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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Featured Artist/Blogger -Katy Mitchell

MC;   Whatdo you love the most about being a potter/ceramist/ clay worker?
KM; I feel that I’m part of a time honoured tradition and I think I’m quite privileged to contribute to such an ancient art form, in my own tiny way.

above image from MJB Photography 'Heart line' series

 MC: What inspires you ? 
KM;  Creative people living out their dreams; walking the beach before sunrise; the way that we all see the world differently; building a new and better life for myself; the prospect of doing what I love for the rest of my life; watching and helping friends achieve their goals; listening to the Pacific Ocean in bed; travelling; Disney movies; chocolate; mint tea; music;sunshine; childhood memories.

MC: Tell us about the processes involved in producingyour work ?  
KM; Nearly all of my work begins in my sketchbook. Very rarely will I make a piece without drawing even a tiny design of it first. I might spend weeks developing sketches or it could be a super quick scribble to get it out of my head. I think that’s the main reason I keep a sketchbook – to empty out my brain!

 I’m a wheel thrower. I weigh out clay, usually in sets of 4 or 8pieces, as I know that’s about one or two hour’s work, then I can take a break to stretch or eat. I throw on batts, moving the pieces over to shelves next to my wheel as I go. I tend to throw one day, and then trim the next. If I have to delay trimming, I’ll stash the pieces in a polystyrene box to keep them slightly damp. I stamp the base of my pieces with a handmade clay stamp. Next comes applying a design, hand drawn with a HB pencil on almost bone dry greenware, followed by painting with Duncan EZ Strokes.

 Once the pieces are completely dry, I pack them up in bubble wrap and polystyrene boxes and drive them over to the Gold Coast Potters’ Association in Benowa to bisque fire them in their baby kiln (she’s called Minnie!).

 I might bring the work back to my studio the next day, or if I’m working a ‘night shift’, I’ll glaze them at the Benowa workshop and reload the kiln that night. After a bisque firing, I lightly sand the lips of my pieces and any other rough patches, then paint melted wax on the bases and dip them into a clear gloss glaze, which I mix myself. I’m quite fussy about fettling the glaze!

  MC:  Describe your studio
KM; In early June 2012 I was fortunate enough to move my studio out of the spareroom of my tiny first floor 2 room apartment, into an elevated space overlooking a warehouse in Mermaid Beach.My good friend owns the building and offered the space for me to use. I have my wheel, 4 sets of shelving for freshly thrown work, trimmed work, painted work and finished stock.

 There is also a large table that I use to wedge clay and sit at todraw, paint or plan for the day. The walls are covered in posters or pages from magazines to inspire me, as well as a big pin board with more inspiration such as exhibition flyers, business cards and photocopies from books. I have part of my library collection in the studio, all of my ceramics reference books and some art history books. Naturally there’s a good stash of tea and hot chocolate next to the kettle and always some kind of music playing.

So far I’ve kept a rule of not taking my laptop to the studio, I hope I can stick with that! I try to leave the studio for a lunch break, often walking 5minutes to sit on the beach (!). It feels rather idyllic at times! I thank my lucky stars everything I arrive and leave the studio.

MC:   How do you market  andsell your work? 
KM; My first stockist was 19 KARENon the Gold Coast, back in 2010, closely followed by Artisan in Brisbane later that year. In 2011 I joined ClayArt Benowa, a sweet cottage gallery supported by the Gold Coast Potters Association and also began stocking work at Market to Market in Toowoomba and The SWICH in Ipswich.This year I was very excited to send work to my first Melbourne gallery, SMALLpieces.

 (Above image-'Lorikeet Cups' -photographer Carmel Dunne)

I’m very happy to say that I’ve recently joined Udessi too! I’ve followed Kim’s work and Udessi for a long time and feel so privileged to become part of such a great initiative.

 (Above image-'Silverdale Dreams' series - photographer Kylie Cox)

I’m so fortunate and grateful to have such supportive and encouraging stockists. They work really hard to promote my work and are all super great people!

(Above image-'Silverdale Dreams' series-photographer Kylie Cox)

In August I celebrated my first year of market-going, at the first birthday of Miami Marketta at Rabbit + Cocoon. The Marketta was my first market appearance in August 2011 and I have attended regularly since then.

 It’s a brilliant mix of art, fashion, food and music on a Friday night and I am incredibly proud to be part of it. I also sell my work at market days and special events with the Gold Coast Potters’ Assoc.

I *do* have an online store, but honestly it’s been in vacation mode since my travels to Canad ain May and I can’t foresee it opening again anytime soon…! I certainly would like to reopen it in time for Christmas…maybe.

MC:   How did you find Mud Colony?And  what impact ,( ifany), has it had on your
KM;My dear friend Adriana invited me from the beginning! We both contributed to MyCreative Space, which then became Our Creative Spaces, started by Kirsty Macafee, which inspired Adriana to launch Mud Colony. Creative Spaces was always a great place to share and meet liked minded makers, and Mud Colony is extra good as its all clay bods!

 I think it’s really important and almost vital for us to share our work, even if we’ve had a bad week. Most of us work solo and it is so easy to become despondent when things don’t go to plan. Mud Colony provides us with a space to share our good and bad times and allows us to support each other through all of that.

 MC:  Are there any clayblogs that you ALWAYS look at ,and why? 
KM; OH,oh there are SO MANY! Allow me to raid my Google Reader list…– a fellow young potter, proving to the world that yes, ceramics can be a viable career. Lindsay and I met on Twitter, leading to an online friendship of encouraging noises and virtual high fives. I totally want to meet her in person one day. the Lady herself! Adriana and I discovered each other’s blogs a couple of years ago and have founded a marvellous mutual appreciation society. Adriana is an incredible support for me, always emailing or texting me in excitement to congratulate me on new work or console me when I’ve made a mistake…! I love reading her blog to learn how she is growing her business and following great opportunities. She is a big, BIG inspiration to me on many levels. No, she didn’t pay me to write that. Elaine’s blog is full to the brim of inspiring, interesting and practical posts on making pots, as well as the vibrant ceramics scene in Western Australia. I really hope to attend her print on clayworkshops in the future.
Above Image-Carmel Dunne I’m sure everyone knows about the wealth of information that Carole Epp publishes on a near daily basis. - I only discovered Rae’s work about 6 months ago, via Whitney Smith’s blog. I fallin love with Rae’s work over and over again. Her creations reminded me to embrace the natural colour of clay and to love it for what it is. We also sharea love of sketchbooks. I found sweet Maki’s blog last year, just as she lost her mentor, David Constantine White. Reading of their relationship and the heartbreak she experienced in losing him has made a lasting impression on me. I am truly indebted to the potters in my life that teach, support and encourage me, I can’t begin to imagine how Maki dealt with David’s passing. It has been a joy to watch her follow his wisdom and followher creativity, working in David’s memory.– Established Melbourne based potter Sophie Milne is another big creative muse for me…every time I visit Melbourne I make a point of visiting galleries to drool over her work.’s blog is funny, witty and often oh-so candid, I can’t click quickly enough when she publishes a new post. Her stories remind me to keep my eyes wide open in this strange world of creative business. A new-to-me potter, found via the wonder of Pinterest – Linda Fahey’s work fills my head with memories of growing up on a tiny windswept island.

MC; Best piece of advice you have been given about your practice?

KM; Just do it! 

 MC; What would be YOUR advice to someone just beginning their practice?
KM;  Take the time to truly prepare your work before presenting it to the general public. I spent months working towards my first market appearance and I am so glad that I did. I was absolutely proud of my collection and presentation. If you want the world to pay attention to your work, it is your responsibility to show them that you are worthy. Start a blog, open a Facebook page, launch a website (yes, YES, it IS worth the money), maintain a consistent online presence and work hard to sustain a creative/business balance!

Also; find a mentor.Someone you respect and admire. Pester them, offer them free labour, bake them cakes, buy them coffee and learn as MUCH as you can from them. My teacher from college, MichaelaKloeckner  is now my good friend and mentor – her support and advice is invaluable AND her work is super inspiring!

Katy's wheel thrown work titled 'Miro Feather Bowls'- was  the winning entry in the PortHacking Potters 47th National Competition in the Open Wheel Thrown Section-Judged by Greg Daly 
Kathryn is a regular contributor to Mud Colony with  her blog- 'Katy in the Clouds' 


  1. Go Katy! She rocks ! thanks to mud colony without which I wouldn't be keeping up with ceramics in the southern hemi !! great interview.

  2. Fantastic inspiring post! thanks Katy and Adriana!


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