Few weeks ago, Ceramics Today’s editor received an email from Midlands Potters Association with a call to help Russell Paige to fire his vessels. The thermocouple of his kiln broke and he was looking for a kiln to rent some space to fire a commission piece. Your kiln is more likely to let you down when you are working against the time!
As usual, the community of potters was very supportive. A potter offered to help and Russell was able to complete is project.
Our editor asked Russell to share his experience with Ceramics Today’s readers.
CT: Hi Russell, could you introduce yourself in few words?
Hi, I’m Russell Paige. I’m a potter based in Worcester, UK. I currently am making small scale vessels out of my garage until I can set up my new studio.
CT: How did you come to ceramics?
I was lucky enough to attend a school with actual ceramics equipment and an art teacher who used to be a potter. So that was my introduction to clay. In fact one of my A-Level final pieces was a collection of abstract sculpture, sawdust fired in a kiln of my own making!
CT: How did you learn pottery and develop your skills?
After school I completed an Art Foundation course at Bedford College and specialised in pottery for the final half of the course. I am still in touch with my tutor from there who was a great inspiration to me. From here I went to study Ceramics at Wolverhampton University for 3 years where I gained a wealth of knowledge about many pottery techniques. The course there is really excellent and helped me to explore many techniques, they even allowed us to build a wood fired kiln in their yard, which may or may not be there still today. From University I went to running a pottery studio at Brewery Arts Centre in Cirencester. I was the Ceramicist in Residence for 3 years where I taught classes and produced my own work.
CT: Can you tell us where your inspiration comes from?
I am inspired by wheel thrown forms predominantly, both everyday and more sculptural objects. The fluidity and slight differences that are created when using the wheel really interest me. Artists like Edmund De Waal and his repetitions and simplicity of form but also the wood fired work of Svend Bayer for its naturalistic decoration. However, I also love the bold designs of Richard Godfrey for his use of colour. I could rattle out a long list of artists who inspire me and you would probably not really be able to find a theme. I think inspiration can come from anywhere really, not just from the pottery world.
CT: What clay and techniques do you use to build your pieces?
I use the wheel to throw almost all of my work. I fell in love with the process at university and continued from there. I also like the precision of slip casting and mould making so do like to mix these techniques. I work in stoneware and porcelain and generally use simple glazes. At the moment all my work is fired in an electric kiln but one day I would love to have a wood fired kiln, I am not sure I can get away with that in my garden though!
Q: Where do you work from? Are you a full-time potter or it’s a hobbies?
I am a hobby potter at the moment. Having just moved house I have set myself up in the garage however the dream would be to have a studio building set up in my garden so I have a dedicated space to work. Of course the dream is to be a full time potter but I’m not quite there yet.
Q: Could you mention one piece that you are particularly proud of?
I think the range/design I am particularly proud of is my Nu-Baroque pieces. This was work that I produced when I was in residence at Brewery Arts and I only ever made mugs and teapots however I would like to expand on the range and make more designs. I think this is what I will be focusing on going forward. The mugs did end up being sold in a very high end interiors shop in Chelsea at one stage which was a great achievement.
Q: where can our readers see/buy your work? Any exhibition in the pipeline?
The best place to see my work would be on my Instagram page @russellpaigeceramics or on my Facebook page Russell Paige Ceramics. I am not the best at updating these (especially Facebook) but they do have pictures of previous work. I do not have a shop set up at the moment but people can message me to see what I have available. I keep telling myself to set something up however life is busy at the moment! I don’t have any exhibitions in the pipeline but would love to be a part of something.