Discover our featured maker month by month…
November 2018: MANIFESTO
We recently received lots of new stock from an existing maker - M A N I F E S T O - aka Kate Rose Johnston prompting us to revive Maker of the Month after the long post fire Summer hiatus. We’re so happy to be back and talking to the people who make Welcome Home what it is with their combined creative efforts! These always different, always charming, ceramic wares attract attention such a breadth of people for their diverse and playful aesthetic. You can almost tell their maker has her origins in fine art from their expressive nature!
M A N I F E S T O ’ s manifesto -
a world of colour and play
a culture of sustainable living and conscious consumption
a belief in the sensory enjoyment of the handmade
M A N I F E S T O is in its infancy as a ceramics studio and we love nothing more than to help bolster and guide new design and watch it evolve and blossom. We’re so excited to see what Katie does next! : - )
Hello Katie! For starters, have you always been a creative person? What are you creative origins?
My interest in making developed at an early age. What fascinated me was the ability to create all these diverse and detailed worlds through play – which is still how I work in the studio today. My earliest memory is making a tiny house out of a matchbox which featured intricate moving parts, for example a miniature basketball going into a hoop and a shower spurting sweetie-paper ‘water’. My fascination with making and experimenting with different materials continued throughout my teens and early 20s, where I loved to sew, draw and make models. This lead me to The Glasgow School of Art, where I studied Sculpture and graduated in 2017.
You’ve come from studying fine art to making objects with a more direct functionality. How do you reconcile the roles of artist and designer? Are they complimentary for you or at odds?
The roles of artist and designer are complimentary. Additionally to running M A N I F E S T O, I work as a visual artist, where I create immersive sculptural installations that challenge the perceptions of craft, the woman and the domestic environment. I started M A N I F E S T O back in December 2017 so that I could explore these subjects from a different perspective. For me, both practices inform each other organically and I often find myself exploring questions raised from my sculptures in my M A N I F E S T O products and vice versa.
As an artist, I am drawn to blurring the terse boundaries between craft and the art world - particularly when it comes to the idea of functionality. This is a recurring fascination for me, both in my business and sculptural practice. Earlier this year, I was Deveron Project’s Artist in Residence and in this role collaborated directly with the community of Huntly. Through a series of workshops, we built The Community Crockery, a two-hundred piece dinner set made and designed by local residents. This project was a fantastic experience as the crockery can be seen simultaneously as a dinner set and as well as an artwork in its own right. It can be experienced through touch, use and can even be broken. It’s subtle craftivism.
Why ceramics, what about the material/process did you find exciting?
Ceramics is a fantastic medium because it allows me to work very intuitively. The sculptures and products that I make have a very playful aesthetic – which suits the softness and malleability of clay perfectly. It’s a complex process too, so I am always challenged when I create. When glazing, the medium is very unpredictable – you never have total control over the final result. As well as this, ceramics has a long historic connection with humanity and the home – we have used clay to make domestic objects for thousands of years; it’s an exciting thought to work with an old material in a new form.
Your style is so diverse, what does your process look like and where do you draw your inspiration from?
Including the concepts I talked a little of previously, play and experimentation are the driving forces behind my products. I love to settle down in the studio with the radio on and experiment with shape, size and colour for products and I often get inspiration from my home. Working from my home studio means that I am in constant connection with the environment I create my products for - I am always looking about me to see what functional objects I would love to have in my life. As well as this, I am compelled to try my hand at every process I can and this often leads to new discoveries that challenge how I create.
What’s your best creative tip for getting through a Glasgow winter?
Join an evening class! I’ve signed up for a slip-casting class at the Glasgow Sculpture Studios this year. Not only is it fab to learn a new skill, it’s the perfect way to get out of the house on a cold night and meet new people.
Lastly Please pick a favourite product from the shop!
July 2018 : FREYA IM
Normally our assistant manager performs these interviews but this month we have a slightly unusual format and she is our Maker of the Month. We didn't want to ask someone to be our Maker this month due to the recent fire at GSA and subsequent temporary closure of CCA and Welcome Home so thought this might be a good compromise!
Her attempts at writing about herself in the third person and asking herself probing questions were frankly - by her own estimations - a bit laboured and uncomfortable so what follows is more of an informal ramble about her, her work, her process directly from her (me).
Hello! My name is Freya, and I make jewellery!
I suppose making jewellery is currently my side hustle to working at Welcome Home although the two are interlinked. I sell work through Welcome Home and have been given the opportunity to show my pieces in our window and host Meet The Maker events so the relationship between both is pretty harmonious.
I studied here in Glasgow at the art school and somewhat fell into the jewellery department. I’m a bit of a creative-commitment-phobe as just about everything appeals to me and it took me a long time to make peace with life as a jewellery maker.
I think I had a conception of jewellery as being a very serious and studious endeavour which is enough to put me off anything. My way of moving past this was to make playful, naive and funny pieces. The idea that my work might spark a giggle or a conversation is important to me. I want to subvert the typically formal image of jewellery. I find formality impedes my creativity so I try and make things that make me laugh using quite basic jewellery making techniques and fairly non precious materials.
The Creative Process
My creative process is definitely still in development. I collect imagery from everywhere and make doodle like drawings on the backs of things all the time. I have wonderful inspired ideas at the most inconvenient moments and nearly always fail to remember or record them.
I love the simplicity of line drawings and how each little face’s unique character can be expressed by simply the placing of a few features. Some look grumpy, some sarky, some cautiously optimistic, some just plain glaikit.
Brass is a wonderful material, apart from being a lot more ethical than silver or gold (because it’s an alloy typically made from recycled metals) it really allows for an expressive approach to making. It can be inhibiting to have the high stakes of precious metal when making! I make everything without a stencil and each piece ends up different from the last.
This was hard, I help Mhari to curate/source Welcome Home's stock so I'm pretty attached to most of it!
For someone who makes jewellery I am pretty terrible at wearing any myself, these however are something I need to own in the near future! Perfectly minimal and yet somehow still playful and cheering, and made by a fellow Uk based independent maker.
Alice Chandler XL Silver Wiggle Hoops
I feel like the brooch has a bad rep but the pin is bringing back the brooch in a more palatable form? Brooches are pins and pins are cool!
This one is definite favourite of mine. Living Casual Cloud Enamel Pin
I have a bit of a basket collection right now and this shopper is my dream addition! I'm too devoted to backpacks and tote bags to use any of them but I think this could happily accommodate some newspapers in my living room?
Bohemia Reed Shopper
Images by Beth Chalmers, Styling by Freya Alder and Ruth Mitchel.
June 2018: MAX MACHEN
June Maker of the Month: Max Machen
Max is a Glasgow based illustrator who’s work you may recognise from our Christmas 2017 window. His style is characterised by its simple forms, bright colours and his undeniable sense of fun. His charming, small headed characters traverse and trapeze through bright blockish worlds that capture the imagination.
There’s something wonderfully whimsical and absurd about the scenes he imagines. They transport us to childlike glee, they’re modern but nostalgic. With lines and colours Max conjures little 2D universes to which his characters invite you in!
We stock a series of Max’s prints in store and online.
How long have you been illustrating and what brought you to it?
I specialised in Illustration on a foundation course in Hull about eight years ago and then studied it at Cambridge school of art where i began printmaking and I’ve been printing and scribbling ever since. It lets me create my own world where people can have round heads balancing on square necks or arms three times the length of their legs. The idea of doing it and making money from it is a dream I and I don’t want the alarm to go off!
What were your favourite illustrated books as kid?
Me and my brother used to share a room when we were kids and we got half an hour with the light on to read before the dreaded bedtime. I used to look at the pictures of a book called Castles (first discovery books) by Gallimard Jeunesse It was a non fiction book about a red army defending a castle from a blue army and It terrified me. There was a page where an unlucky soldier fell through a trap door into a dark, cold dungeon below the floor and I used to think about it well after the light went off. It was a big worry for me that one day i may have to defend a castle but I’m happy to say that it hasn’t been a problem for me …yet.
I was also a big fan of the hungry caterpillar by Eric Carle some of those cakes and sweets made me want to eat the cardboard pages!
Your drawings have such whimsy and charm. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw my inspiration from day to day life I like to observe people (in a non creepy way). Ideas and thoughts will just pop into my head from nowhere so I carry round a small book I’ve made which is about an inch in size to write them down in. I find watching old westerns and Hitchcock films really inspiring and I find it useful to have breaks from my work. I enjoy using foreign languages in my work I’m not sure why but a word in French or Italian makes a design a hundred times better. My visual influences are artists like Herve Morvan, Saul Bass and Abraham Games as well as the Russian constructivism and Art Deco movements.
Some of your prints such as ‘moving flats’ hint at a narrative, they make us want to follow them into the paper. Have you made graphic novels or story books before?
I was highly commended in the Macmillan prize for publishing for two books I created at university so it was something I thought I would like to try and get into. The problem is I tend to jump around from one idea to the next and creating a children’s book takes a lot of concentration and patience! I’ve got a few ingredients for a book I want to create but I’ve been thinking about it for years and want the story line to be perfect for when i make it! It’s going to have a giant called Reus in it and a bonsai garden thats for sure!
Screen printing, riso, gocco, pencil, marker - you dabble in many mediums but do you have have a favourite?
This is a tough question they are all so much fun! If you twisted my arm though I’d have to say my loyal friend screen printing. If only I had enough room and money to buy an exposure unit I’d be a very happy chappy!
Lastly please pick a favourite product from the shop!
Love this, I admire it everytime I’m in the shop!
or this is super nice!
May 2018: KATE TROUW
May Maker of the Month: Kate Trouw
Welcome Home has been stocking Kate Trouw's jewellery since late last year but you could be forgiven for having not noticed as her pieces don’t hang around for long. People are enamoured by the playful, bright, wiggly forms as soon as they set eyes on them. They’re bold, fun and cheerful in their colour and form, but also maintain a cleanness and contemporary feel.
The physicality of her polymer clay pieces is just as pleasing as their aesthetic, when fired it hardens to a smooth matte surface. There’s something almost sweetie like about the texture, weight and colour of the pieces you want to wear them but also maybe just sink your teeth into them a little (we have refrained).
We’re always looking for designers based close to home and felt very lucky to stumble across Kate’s work. Based in coastal Fife, across the water from the capital she has her design roots in architecture but has evolved over the past few years into the self employed designer maker we meet today.
How long have you been making jewellery and what brought you to it? Tell us about your transition from architecture to jewellery making.
I've been making jewellery for almost three years now and I still have to pinch myself that it has become my day job. Working as part of a big team is what I found most fun about architecture, but that inevitably means that the design is affected by all of the people involved from the client to the builders who actually make the thing. Occasionally, if you are lucky, this feels like an amazing collaborative project and the end result is better because of it. Mostly though it involves compromises, and did I mention that it takes AGES for an initial design to turn into a building? A lot of projects often don't even make it that far. With jewellery it's much more intuitive, concrete and rewarding and there is something special about making something from scratch with your hands.
You’ve travelled a lot throughout your life. How does being based in coastal Fife effect your current creative mentality?
It's wonderful. I miss London sorely but I now have a beautiful shared studio space in a converted Art Deco cinema up on a cliff overlooking the sea, which is something I've always dreamed of. Moving from my spare room in London to this peaceful place has made my designs more expansive and free, but having a proper studio has also helped me feel more professional too. I feel a lot more focused up here and being able to clear my head by going for a swim or a walk on the beach is, well, perfect!
We imagine there's a certain immediacy to working in polymer clay but your pieces always look so well conceived and balanced in their form and colour. What does your design process look like?
It's long and emotional, but hopefully ends on a high! I usually have ideas already that I want to develop into a new collection, little doodles or one-off pieces that I have made in the past that somehow fit together around a loose theme. I then make hundreds of test pieces and go through weeks of doubt that I'll ever make anything good again. I have to force myself to stay at my desk and to keep making even though I'd rather be anywhere else. It can be painful but, eventually, something clicks and a design falls into place, and I feel exhilarated! That feeling is worth the wait.
Your imagery and styling really brings your pieces to life. Is this a part of the process that you savour and enjoy?
Yes, although I do find it challenging. I do most of the styling and photography myself with varying degrees of success! When I can afford it I use professionals for my look books as it's great fun to collaborate. I worked with photographer Kristy Noble and stylist Olivia Bennett on the look book for the Spline collection, and they produced really gorgeous shots. I'm launching a new mini-collection soon and this time I'm working with Susan Castillo. She has interpreted my brief in a really interesting way and I can't wait to see what comes out of our work together.
Lastly please pick a favourite product from the shop!
easy (if you let me have two)!
Beautiful and comforting - It's Okay Scarf by Need To Feel
Beautiful and practical - Atelier Cleo Folded Envelope Purse with Gold Foil
APRIL 2018: VIV LEE
April Maker of the Month: VIV LEE
Last month artist and ceramicist Viv Lee installed our window at Welcome Home. The window faces onto busy Sauchiehall Street on which the elements have not quite given into Spring and road works loudly groan on, and yet Viv’s window is a small oasis of calm. Bright little yellow stems, dried heather and bushy grasses are balanced thoughtfully in her pieces. A pinecone is nestled atop a small vase christened ‘new bud’ and gypsophila foams out of another entitled ‘Botanical Rhapsody’.
Glazes are where Viv’s work comes to life, deep sludge tones sit along side thick clean icing-sugar white and pink and blue mark making, each adding to layer upon layer of subtle colour. The glazes change the surface of the clay from uniform to organic and each piece becomes a pleasure to hold for its weight and cool irregular surface.
Viv was born in Hong Kong and has spent time living in Toronto and London before finding her current location in the West of Scotland. A former aromatherapist and florist, Viv earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture at the Glasgow School of Art last year. Her work is made from her home studio using a variety of techniques including hand building through pinching and coiling and using found objects as tools for mark making.
How long have you been making ceramics and what brought you to it?
In my second year at art school we had a visiting professor from China who came over to teach us how to sculpt a head in clay. That was my first experience of working with the medium and it was pretty much love at first touch. From that point on I started to explore the material and began making ceramics on the side. I love the expressive potential of clay, its tactile quality and that it comes from such ancient roots. After I graduated from school last summer I decided to fully immerse myself into making ceramics and set up a studio at home.
The names you give each of your pieces really bring them to life, why was it important for you to name them?
Language plays such an important part in how we make sense of the world and the objects around us. By giving each piece a name, I hope to give the viewer/user an access point to engage with the object and allow its meaning to unfold with use.
The palette you have chosen for the range we have in Welcome Home is so subtle - was it informed by anything in particular? How do you make decisions about colour?
I am greatly influenced by my surroundings and in particular, the natural environment. I love how every season brings new colours, moods and sensations and I try to capture these feelings in my work. Very often I arrive at decisions about colour intuitively. Lately I have been particularly drawn to using subtle colours that appear to change and shift, much like the quality of light in Scotland.
How does being based in Scotland, and in particular Glasgow effect your creative mentality?
Although I currently live just a couple miles outside of Glasgow, I feel very much part of the creative fabric of the city, which is dynamic, experimental and lively. I am lucky to have spent four years studying at Glasgow School of Art and being surrounded by so many creatives. I definitely think this drives me to be experimental with my own work. I’m really looking forward to going around GI and Glasgow Open House Festival to soak up some of this creative energy.
Lastly please pick a favourite product from the shop!
Beautiful wearable sculpture!