As much of the world went online in the spring of 2020, Ceramicist Lauren Frost was finishing a hands-on Glass and Ceramics degree (now suddenly remote), at the same time as setting up her very first ceramics studio in the garden.
Graduating during the pandemic not only sped up the process of setting up her studio but provided a much needed “real work focus” due to the limitations provided by lockdown.
“Before the pandemic, whilst I was still considering options for when I graduated, I was very interested in teaching, and had been fortunate to have taught ceramics on a number of occasions during my degree.”
Despite being ready to focus on teaching, Lauren is looking on the bright side.
“Although this was put on hold last year, it really enabled me to consolidate my degree, refine my craft skills and develop my unique design style.”
“I am based in a garden studio, on top of a hill. In the winter months it can be very cold which can sometimes be challenging. Multiple jumpers, thermal tights and plenty of hot tea helps though!
Cold weather also means that clay dries much more slowly. I generally have multiple batches of work in progress which means that I am never short of work to do.”
Lauren was certainly not short of work for the months following her degree, as she was approached by a large local business to create mugs for one of their cafés. She went from creating small batches of work for galleries and online retailers to producing 200 hand thrown mugs over a short period of time. Despite being intense at times, the learning process has now shaped her approach to future creative projects.
“It was certainly a step up for me, having only made small batches of mugs, to designing and creating 200 mugs for a local business. It was a fantastic experience and really improved my ability to repeat a design.
However I now know that I prefer to work on a smaller scale, producing smaller batches of different designs, so that I am able to explore the more creative side of ceramics too.”
Creating ceramics is a time consuming process which requires many stages to transform a handful of mud, into a refined piece of art - but it's a practice which Lauren wholeheartedly enjoys.
“I love all stages of the ceramics process; it is wonderful to see the transformation from a ball of clay to a decorative and functional ceramic object. The initial stage, ‘throwing’ a vessel on the potter’s wheel will never tire me.”
Lauren ‘threw’ her first pot on a potter’s wheel during her A Levels but started making things and experimenting with various materials from a young age, where she was given free range to explore her creativity.
“Since I was little, I have loved having a go at various arts and crafts and was very fortunate to have encouraging parents and teachers who gave me the confidence to try new things and develop my skills."
"Growing up on the edge of the Lake District, I would often feel inspired to take sketchbooks on walks.
By sixth form, I ended up taking A Level Art and Art Textiles. This is where I first had a go on an unused potter’s wheel and found the process fascinating. After completing a diploma in fine art I chose to study Glass and Ceramics as a degree. Since then, I have been making and selling work inspired by my favourite places, both locally in Cumbria, and also the western islands of Scotland.”
The outdoors provide Lauren with both a respite, and a chance to find inspiration for her designs, which, often titled after the places that inspired them, reflect the colours and tactile textures of the local landscape.
“My favourite way to spend my time when I’m not working is outdoors. I love walking in the hills near where I live, swimming and kayaking. Somewhat ironically, it’s the time away from work, that inspires the ceramics I create.”
In the near future, Lauren hopes to help others develop a passion for making, as well as sharing with them the wellbeing benefits of making something with your own two hands.
“Going forward, I hope to spend more time teaching ceramics to other people. I love sharing my knowledge and passion for this craft and really believe in the importance of spending time away from the digital. Similar to spending time outdoors, learning a craft enables people to slow down and switch off.”
And by slowing down and switching off, Lauren means more than just putting our feet up. To her it means curating a slower way of life, which is much more sustainable for both ourselves, and for the planet.
“It has become the norm to buy from large businesses who have little environmental consideration. Often this is linked to fashion - and rightly so, but this is also an issue with homeware too. Choosing to buy secondhand, or locally from an artisan is generally the more sustainable choice. It often means you can buy something unique too.
I hope more people will become less led by passing trends and choose to shop smaller for unique pieces that they will cherish for years to come.”