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Hannah Tounsend

"in love with clay"

Tell us about your work

I make printed ceramic vessels and subtly-layered paper monoprints. I set up my first studio in 2008 and started my own business in 2015 when I finished my MA. I sell my work through galleries, interior designers and directly through my website. I’m also doing one-off ceramics or prints to commission for public bodies, private companies and individuals.

Share your making process

I have a “hybrid” way of making ceramics that combines moulding and throwing. It’s technically very challenging, but means I can build up richly-layered printed surfaces – every form is completely individual. And a big launch for me is a print range to sit alongside my ceramic pieces.

How did you become a maker?

I studied for my BA and MA in Ceramics at De Montfort University. Key moments include winning the British Ceramic Biennial’s FRESH 2015 competition. This really raised my profile and led to a residency in Denmark.

What inspires you?

Layered landscapes and the sea-washed, weatherworn surfaces of the British coastline.

I fell in love with clay right from the beginning. Everything I tried I wanted to develop further and the more I understood the more I wanted to understand. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to explore all the possibilities of this amazing material.

What’s challenging?

Oh, time management without doubt. But I work hard to have studio time, even if business matters are pressing.

So what’s your studio like?

It’s attached to my cottage and used to be the Village Reading Room. It still has the old wooden cupboards and fireplace. I need huge amounts of surfaces as I work very instinctively and like to spread out wherever possible. Good light is another must. And I need spaces to display ideas, beach finds and ongoing work.

A favourite tool?

I use stones collected from the shore to make marks in print and clay. I choose the ones that fit well in my hand and use the rounded edges to scrape back through the films of ink I layer on for my monoprints.

And the future?

I want to make large installations that tie together my ceramic and print work. And to do projects with a greater scale and scope – competitions, commissions and collaborations.

Some advice?

Explore the support and opportunities for makers, particularly when starting out. I’ve had invaluable help from the Crafts Council and Design-Nation – they connected me to a network of peers.

Hannah Tounsend was a member of the Design-Nation portfolio between 2016 and 2017.