Sue Pryke

"just do what you love"

What do you make and how?

I just love clay and tableware. I make pieces for the home in a high-fired coloured ceramic “body”, which is slipcast. It’s an industrial process using plaster moulds and liquid clay – or “slip”. I’m using coloured clay similar to Wedgwood’s Jasperware, where the colour runs throughout the clay and without a glaze. And several pieces can be made at the same time. I’ve been designing and making interchangeably since I graduated from the RCA in 1994, and I sell through high-end craft events and at trade fairs.

What’s special about this?

Well, it’s a technique developed for mass-manufacturing but I’m using it for a small scale craft practice. I’m updating the traditions of Jasperware with contemporary shapes for the home. The clay is “vitrified” – that means it’s fired to such a high temperature it’s no longer porous which make it very hardwearing. Finally, it’s polished and gets a semi- matt sheen like a polished pebble.

Tell us about your career

My first job in ceramics was at a rural pottery helping to throw domestic ware, which eventually led to a degree in Ceramics. After graduating I worked at Wedgwood as a shape designer.

I graduated from an MA course in Ceramics at the Royal College of Art in 1994. Then I set up a studio in London producing tableware for stores such a Conran Shop, Heals, Liberty’s, as well as designing for other companies. My first client, who I still work for as a freelance designer, was Ikea – some of my first designs for them in 1994 are still in production.

What’s your studio like?

I’ve just moved to a large studio in an old factory building as I’d outgrown my previous space in an old stable with rural views. Things are now very functional, more like a factory production line than a small scale craft practice. The focus is on efficiency. Ceramics is an expensive business. Each stage of making is labour-intensive and time-consuming, so it’s good business to have everything running as smoothly as possible.

Advice?

Just do what you love!