August 2019 Maker of the Month: Ciara Isabel Ceramics
Ciara Neufeldt is relatively new to Welcome Home having come in with her wonderful designs a few months ago - we’re so happy she did! Ciara creates colourful handbuilt homeware, intended to brighten up everyday life through its use. Her cheerful patterned ceramics have been really popular here and we’re looking forward to getting lots more of her work in very soon.
Find out more about her process and life in Glasgow below…
1 Were you always creative? What lead you in the direction of making?
I would say so – I grew up running around fields in the Irish countryside, so I had a pretty liberated childhood and spent a lot of time playing and creating. I did art all through school and it probably was one of the few subjects I was good at. When I left, I studied English for a year at Glasgow University, which I quickly realised had been a truly terrible choice! I dropped out to pursue something creative and ended up doing my portfolio course at Tramway, before being accepted to Duncan of Jordanstones in Dundee.
I honestly think making is ultimately all I could do. I feel so grateful to be able to work with my hands daily and create objects that people connect with. I think once you’re a maker there’s no going back from it – I know I’ll always have that itch.
2 What do you like about working in ceramics, what drew you to the material?
I worked with clay in high school, but it wasn’t until I discovered the ceramic workshop at DJCAD during my 2nd year that I really became obsessed. I worked as an apprentice in Cromarty Pottery that summer and I remember having an actual realisation that this was going to have to be my career.
I think I love the material itself because it can be altered and manipulated in so many ways. The learning never ends, everyday there’s some form of new information. So, as a material it keeps me on my toes - it doesn’t ever feel mundane because there’s always the excitement of learning more about the process.
I’ve always been interested in the effect of colour upon feeling. Ceramic homeware allows me to create something unique in someone’s life. I’m also fascinated by ceramics ability to connect the maker with user. Each time someone uses one of my pieces, they are directly connecting to an object made by my hands.
My aim is to enhance even just a moment within someone’s day through my ceramics – I’m drawn to clay specifically because it allows me to combine colour with functionality to create these objects of joy.
3 We all recognise your work for its bold colourful layers. How did you hit on the process of Nerikomi? Is it something you see yourself pursuing for a while?
I actually first discovered Nerikomi several years ago, when I stumbled upon a video of the wonderful Risa Nishimori demonstrating cutting through a block. I’ve always had a colourful aesthetic within my work, so I was hugely inspired by this method of directly adding pigment to clay and knew I needed to research it further.
At the time I was amid learning how to throw, so I decided to become competent at that before starting with a new technique.
Once I was fairly happy with my throwing skills, I decided it was time to throw myself (no pun intended!) into learning about Nerikomi. I’ve found it’s allowed me to combine colour and pattern in a much looser and more expressive way than ever before. I’ve discovered a practice that allows me to truly encapsulate what is important to me within my work.
I will definitely be continuing with Nerikomi and coloured clay in the future - I’m hoping to get *fingers crossed* specialised training next year and will then be qualified to teach the technique to others.
4 What does your creative process look like?
I learn massively by experimenting through physical making, so that makes up a lot of my creative process. I’ll do a few wee rough sketches of patterns and plan how I’m going to layer up my blocks, and I usually find it helpful to make small test blocks too. I also have test tiles of my colours, which means I can quickly pull a palette together.
My patterns themselves come from a wide catchment. I follow a lot of painters, illustrators and weavers online – people who use surface pattern in both 2D and 3D ways. I also try and visit galleries and museums. I tend to take a lot of reference photos of anything I find interesting, from textures and colours to compositions and archaeological finds.
Honestly, it also largely depends on how I feel the specific day I’m creating; a lot of the time my blocks aren’t fully planned, the patterns and colours just take shape organically once I begin work on them.
5 You teach workshops in ceramics right? How do you find the role of tutor and how does it benefit you/your process?
Yes! I teach kids and adults the potter’s wheel and hand-building, in both private and group classes at The Craft Pottery. It’s fantastic. I love that it gives me the ability to work with a wide variety of people and introduce them to clay. It’s genuinely one of the most rewarding things to see the joy and fulfilment when people create their own work for the first time.
It benefits my practice because once you start breaking down a process to teach it, you begin to really clarify what you do and exactly how you do it. In that sense teaching others has improved how I create my own work.
6 What’s your relationship with Glasgow? Do you feel you've found your place in the creative community here?
I originally moved here in 2012, before moving to Dundee in 2014 - but I always knew I’d be back. Glasgow feels like home. It’s the perfect city - not too big but not too small, with such an incredibly vibrant and diverse creative scene.
Getting a space at Glasgow Ceramic Studio opened me up to the wonderful ceramic community here. I was always made to feel so welcomed, and it’s allowed me to settle into and connect with a community of makers within Glasgow.
Everyone is hugely supportive. I’ve learnt so much from a variety of makers and their techniques because there is no sense of secrecy; people are always happy to share their process and answer questions, so it’s been an incredible learning environment.
7 We always ask our interviewees to pick something from the shop that’s on their wishlist…
This was by far the toughest question! But I had to choose the ‘Need to Feel AAAH Silk Scarf’ because woweeee the colours and pattern are absolutely stunning and right up my street!