Nicola Blaize

Nicola Blaize

Nicky Blaize is an artist and designer-maker specializing in fine ceramics.  Her studio is based in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, the traditional heartland of the UK ceramics industry. Nicola offers specialist, bespoke pottery that is designed and created with ecology and sustainability as a priority. Each piece incorporates local heritage and skilled craftsmanship.  The highest quality materials are used to produce outstanding ceramics.

An Interview with Nicola

Why did you become a designer-maker?

I became a designer maker because I love making, and all the stages involved.

What are your main influences?

Main influences are the natural world, ecology and femininity.

What part of the process excites you the most?

The unknown aspect of ceramics; you make so many decisions, but when you close that kiln door it’s out of your hands.  It still feel like Christmas day before opening a kiln!

What would you say is important to you when it comes to designing?

Understanding processes and the materials qualities you choose to use.

And when it comes to choosing materials?

When choosing materials I feel it’s important to have empathy with the materials.

Can you describe from beginning to end how a piece, selected by you, is made? Describe where the design concept came from, what influenced you, how you decided on the materials or colour, what processes did you  use etc?

I select the piece hand built lily vessel with wild horses on the interior

(a) rolling out the bone china to the point where it’s just about possible to handle; using  fabrics to create a fine impression, as if it’s a canvas .

(b) When bone china is rolled a cracked edge naturally forms, I select an area with most interesting edge, and cut out to size that to fit one of the plaster blocks.

(c) Working with the material allowing it to form and fold within the restrictions of the plaster block, a cylinder is formed

(d) Pieces are covered and left to dry slowly, at this stage many pieces crack, and cannot be used, but the material can be reclaimed and reused so little waste is created

(e) Firing stage: bone china is usually placed on setters to stop it from distorting during firing at high temperature between 1260-1300 .I consciously don’t use setters wanting the material to find its own form .

(f) Areas of the vessel are glazed using a low temperature lead free glaze

(g) Imagery is applied  using  a mix of Oxides natural pigment  copper, cobalt, iron  in powder form.  These can  be fired to high temperature . Copper lustre is hand painted onto a surface.

What do you think makes you different/ unique from other makers within your genre?

The use of  bone china in  an unrestricted way is unusual; using all the same material and techniques  as would be used in industry but producing an item that is unique.  The majority of bone china is used for tableware production and tableware  has  to have no flaws to be valuable.  Bone china used to be highly prized , for its pure white  and translucent quality which is obtained by use of animal bone, a by-product from the meat industry.  I use this material to create items I would like to be prized and cherished as the animals that have gone into to making  this material.  Today in the UK  bone china  is very common place.  I aspire to make pieces that, although not perfect forms. are, because of their variation. treasured and prized.

What do you regard as your greatest success in your career to date?

The greatest success in my career to date, which is also the reason that I didn’t give up making, was winning the BEDGI Genius award in 2007; the trophy was designed by Tim Tolkien, great nephew of J.R.R Tolkien

From all your pieces which is your favourite and why?

Lily vessel with wild horses on interior, as for me, it sums up the few rare people you meet who have made a conscious decision not to conform, to find their own way and take the consequences.

What are the benefits of being a maker?

Freedom to follow you own instincts.

What are the disadvantages?

When it goes wrong you have to admit it and start again, it can be very lonely.

Did you have an inspirational teacher?

School was always tough being dyslexic, as most artistic people are.  Its quite a battle! One teacher in infant school read Tolkien and adventure books and encouraged us to use our imagination, her name was Mrs Moss .

Describe the commissioning process you employ. What aspect do you enjoy most and which do you fear the most?

Commissioning is always exciting, I enjoy getting involved in making something that someone else has  visualised  and wants to make reality; biggest fear not getting right!

What do you enjoy doing apart from designing and making ceramics?

I enjoy good food,  small  everyday pleasures , travelling, trying new things, being inspired by different cultures.

If you weren't a designer/ maker what would you have liked to be?

I love history so  would  like to have been an archaeologist .

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

I studied fashion after leaving school, so  I was a fashion Designer  early on and made everything from a three piece suit to covering  a three piece sofa.

View All Products

Set Descending Direction

Grid List

  1. 1
  2. 2
per page
Set Descending Direction

Grid List

  1. 1
  2. 2
per page