It’s the everyday finishing touches in life that make all the difference. The little things help us to pause and take a moment to reflect on our day, month and year. Like pouring a cup of herbal tea on a Sunday morning in the comfort of your home and appreciating the good times.
These moments of slowness and peaceful reflection are important, which is why something as seemingly simple as a mug can have a great impact on all of us. A craftsperson who knows this all too well is Emma Lacey. The designer of ‘the mugs with the dent’s’, known as the Everyday Mugs. Sculptural and tactile, the shape of these crafted ceramics capture the sensuality of human form and provide an intimate experience for the person enjoying a cup of their favourite blend.
Q. Can you tell us a little more about your process?
Emma. ‘Almost everything is hand-made in my small North London Studio. The Everyday and Rainbow ranges are wheel thrown using a fine stoneware clay and then the shape is manipulated or particular glazing techniques are used to make the pieces as tactile as possible and to communicate the nature of the clay materials and characteristics. I have designed pieces to be produced industrially too (see our tacit mug https://www.emmalacey.com/pressimages), these are designed to harness the repetitive slip-casting process whilst still talking about the plasticity and sculptural qualities of clay. All of the work is thrown by me and then I have help to finish and glaze the pieces.’
Q. How did your signature style/shape come about?
Emma. ‘My large Everyday mug is what I’m best known for. The shape has had a long evolution, beginning with my experimental drawings, photographs and three dimensional studies of the human body, and leading through to material explorations in clay and metal to represent these sensual lines and forms. After a lot of research into functional design and studying how people interact with objects, I played with the notion of functionality by adding handles to my sculptural vessels – suddenly they were jugs and mugs, and it all clicked into place! I call myself a designer and maker, but there is certainly a sculptural quality in my work that can be held and experienced.’
Q. Where abouts is your studio based?
Emma. ‘I work from my studio at the end of the garden in Crouch End (I’m a born and bred Crouch Ender!). It’s pretty small but we are efficient and can produce a lot from there. I have two wheels and two kilns and two assistants!’
Q. Can you tell me a little more about yourself as the maker and how you found this passion for ceramics?
Emma. ‘I have made things for as long as I can remember. I was always making things as a child. I was encouraged in my creativity in my parents so would take pottery classes at the local YMCA and joined an evening class (with a group of people much much older than me) as a teenager (it wasn’t fashionable then like it is now). It was on my Art Foundation course at Middlesex University that I discovered my passion and skill for object making. I still loved to draw, print and take photographs but seemed to have a natural sensitivity for three dimensional form and volume in space so went on to do A BA in Crafts at Brighton University and then a Masters in Ceramic Design at Central Saint Martins in London. I now teach there so am able to share my passion and use it to facilitate the creative learning journeys of the next generation of ceramic artists, designers and makers.’
Q. What elements are of the utmost importance to you and your practice?
Emma. ‘Designing in longevity; not working according to trends. Making work that can be experienced in a tactile as well as visual way. That is functional and useful as well as beautiful. Paying attention to the details and working as sustainable as I can both in the studio and in my attitude towards designing pieces which will be kept and handed down over time.’