Hi Kirsty! Please introduce yourself and your brand KJA Studio to our readers.
Hello, I’m Kirsty of KJA Studio, a Scottish textile designer turned full time ceramicist. I create functional stoneware ceramics featuring minimal contemporary shapes with a rustic warm feeling you find at home. Just recently I’ve become one third of Clay Coven, a new studio workshop in Edinburgh.
What led you to become a full-time ceramicist?
After graduating from Grays School of Art with a textiles degree, I made textile wall hangings and accesserories for around ten years under the name ‘a wooden tree’. At the same time I worked part time at The Festival Theatre in Edinburgh. I loved making my textile pieces but got to a point where it wasn’t sparking my creativity.
I started an evening ceramics course with my friend for fun as I’d always loved pottery, then got completely hooked. I wanted to make pots all the time. After a few years of classes and building my skills, I decided to jump in at the deep end and apply for a ceramics fair in Scotland called Potfest that I’d had my heart set on. I’ve had my fair share of no’s so would just shrug it off if I didn’t get in and try again next time, however, I was accepted and literally hit the ground running. This led me to joining Edinburgh Ceramics Workshop where I built my body of work over an exciting and stressful few months getting ready for Potfest and it’s been ongoing ever since.
Your work is beautiful, what inspires you to create your unique style?
My textiles degree allowed me to work with pattern and form which has helped to influence the way I now work. My ceramics are inspired by an accumulation of different things I like minimal shapes and fluid glaze patterns and the pots to feel tactile. The vessels themselves are simple shapes taken from my interest in the aesthetics of old objects – milk churns, chemistry beakers and enamel wear. The patterns, glazes and clay are taken from the path nature leaves on the land.
Can you tell us a bit about the process behind making your ceramics?
I start out with a shape or size of pot I roughly want to make, throw it then the development comes through altering the shape as I throw more. I will have batches of pots that are of a similar vein but not the same so each are individual. These are more typical of my vases and display bowls.
Where are we able to buy your gorgeous ceramics, and do you have any new products in the pipeline?
I have updates on my online shop every three or four months which I will let people know via Instagram and I do have a stockists list on my shop website too. I have a new bowl that I am working on and possibly a festive item.
Where do you like to create your work?
As I’m using clay I mostly work in the studio.
Can you pick out 4 or 5 things in your working space that you can’t live without?
Without it I would not be able to throw my pots.
Pottery studios can get real cold so anything to keep me warm.
Music or a Podcast.
Great for helping me concentrate on throwing.
Cups of Tea.
With some biscuits hopefully.
You have recently joined forces with fellow ceramicists Lillian Shipton and Aimie Brown to create The Clay Coven, can you tell us more about what this is and how this came about?
I’ve known Aimie for years, we met through a good friend and by coincidence when I joined Edinburgh Ceramics Workshop she had been a member for a while, Lillian was also a member and we all just clicked. We have the same working ethos and vision for a studio. We’d talked about getting a studio for a while, we wanted to have a place that we could make our own work but use it for more, create a community bit by bit.
What will the Clay Coven Studio offer?
When we are up and running we want the studio to offer, classes for adults and children, clay as therapy sessions and one to one lessons for those that can make it down to the studio. For those that can’t make it down to the studio or are unable to leave the house we are offering our Claycation home kits for adults and children. Additionally we’ll be offering a firing service for those local to the studio, or up for the drive.
You mention clay therapy sessions, this sounds really interesting, are you able to share a bit more information about how these benefit people?
Clay therapy sessions will be co-facilitated by Lillian Shipton, an art therapist who specialises in working with people who have experienced trauma and adversity and Aimie Brown, a tutor in adult education who specialises in working with people with varied complex needs. Engaging in creative activities is an effective and fun way to improve mental health difficulties and relieve stress. These sessions will benefit vulnerable communities as well as children and young people. We are committed to providing low cost, or no cost sessions to ensure that the Clay Coven Studio remains accessible.
Where will The Clay Coven studio be located and how will this be accessible to people in the area and from further afield?
We are based in Edinburgh and are still looking for our Clay Coven studio, at the moment we have a temporary space for six months where we can work and start rolling out the Claycation Home Kits, then when we find the studio and get set up, we can start to open it up to clay sessions and classes. We would ideally like to find somewhere in Leith or areas close by.
You currently have a Crowdfunder campaign in order to help make this a reality, are you able to tell us more about how the funding from the campaign would be able to help?
The Crowdunder has been amazing so far, the support we have received has been truly overwhelming. The funding from it will be the financial leg up we need to get the Clay Coven Studio off the ground. It will enable us to purchase essential equipment like a kiln, wheels, equipment for the studio. Clay and tools for the clay experiences and Claycation kits. The kiln will enable us to offer a firing service to our Claycation community. We will also be able to offer clay experiences to those that cannot afford it.
WHERE CAN WE FIND OUT MORE?