Tamsin John trained in fine art and specialised in printmaking, and has also worked as a jeweller. She has been working with clay since an inspiring evening class several years ago. She works in a studio in her garden in Bristol, and in the second of the series about creatives’ objects of desire she’s here to tell us all about it:
My pottery is inspired by the fluidity of the clay itself. I like that my best pieces resemble the rippled sand that’s left when the tide goes out. But working with clay, you are open to infinite ways of creating texture and form. The rippled texture that I make has a very calming effect, almost like scalloped waves.
I absolutely love, love my studio! It was the best thing that happened to me last year. My best friend died, and having the studio has helped me to fill the space and be busy making Tamsin John pottery.
I had always dreamt of having my own studio and feel incredibly lucky. Having it outside of your house really helps to get into the zone of working, no distractions other than my cats insisting they join me. It’s a design based on a shepherds hut and was made fairly locally in Frome by a small non-profit making team called Edspace.
My studio isn’t heated and to stay warm while working in winter I double up on layers and plug the electric radiator in. It’s a small space so it heats quickly. When the kiln is on it becomes almost like a sauna!
My comfort food is also my fast food which is great when you’re working and don’t really want to stop to eat or drink! It’s homemade sourdough toast with Marmite, eaten off one of my plates.
My most treasured object has to be a necklace that my boyfriend made me for Christmas. He is a jeweller and is incredibly talented. It’s a string of graduated untreated tiny charcoal-coloured diamonds. They are discreet and understated, but are so sparkly and simple. I’m very lucky!
I have a favourite shop I like to ooh and ahh in when I visit London. I used to take my children on every visit and we would spend a long time taking it all in. It’s The Conran Shop on Fulham Road. It’s an enormous, well-curated shop full of designer homewares and fabrics. The prices are well over my budget but it doesn’t seem to dampen my enthusiasm for going.
If you wish you could draw, paint, or make, I would definitely recommend ceramics (or pottery, or whichever word you are more comfortable using) to anyone who wants to do something a little bit creative. The clay has a way of wooing you in, it’s an immensely satisfying way to spend some time. Of course anyone can paint or draw too, but there’s nothing like starting with a lump of clay and ending with something that is elegant. It does it for me like no other medium.
I have started a new venture this month, having a group of four people sit around my large table with a lump of clay each and seeing where it goes. It’s like an evening class, but in my home and yes, probably with a bottle of wine! You can see more on my Instagram account @tamsinjohnpottery.
Every May I am going to open my home and pottery studio for a weekend of selling Tamsin John pottery and meeting new people.