Eeeeeeek Creative Q&As are back! And for the first one of 2021, we’ve got ourselves a cracker!
This week we were lucky enough to speak to this lovely face behind ‘Zara Ceramics’.
Based in a small town in Northern Ireland, super talented ceramicist Zara is a force to be reckoned with. Her beautiful work – created as a result of a combination of pure no-fuss talent, and a killer work ethic – blew us away upon discovery.
I think the rugged, natural colour palettes, and the ergonomic shape of the mugs, which look like they are waiting to be cradled in your hands, are what really attracted us to these bad boys.
JANEY: Hi Zara! Please can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself, have you always been a keen maker?
ZARA: I have always been a maker, not necessarily with clay but I have always enjoyed making things, ever since I was a child. That’s not to say it was necessarily anything particularly good, but I always enjoyed the process of creating something from nothing. I didn’t become a professional maker until I started university where I spent three years at Ulster University in Belfast. I really enjoyed the process of learning about what it means to thrive as an artist in today’s world, but I didn’t know how I was going to create an income while doing something I loved. I started making small bits and pieces to sell at craft fairs on the run-up to Christmas, and once I had saved enough for my first wheel, I began throwing small vessels (which I then took to Belfast in order to be fired in the University kilns). I spent three years saving up to buy the equipment so it has been a long process to get to where I am now, but I love it.
J: You have clearly worked so so hard to get where you are today, and it looks like it has paid off!
Huge congrats on your graduation – I’m sorry that it wasn’t quite what you expected your final year to be, but am so glad that you were still able to produce what you did!
How does your current work compare to your university work? Is it pretty similar, or a whole new concept all together?
Z: My current work is all about function – when we went into lockdown I only had a tiny kiln, so I couldn’t create the large sculptures which I was making at university anymore because I didn’t have access to a large kiln. So my practice had to pivot and I began making functional tableware and smaller items. The fact I could craft work which people wanted to use on a daily basis was so lovely and exciting to me, I definitely want to still explore more of my sculptural artistic pieces in the future but at the moment I’m really enjoying building a business and collaborating with other makers.
J: Brilliant, so you really had to adapt to the change in circumstances because the access to the facilities was no longer there. But this led to exciting things and meant you are now making those beautiful pieces in your current collection! I am loving your ‘silver lining’ attitude.
What is the process you go through when designing your creations?
Z: My design process normally starts in my sketchbook, but I do enjoy experimenting with different glazes and clays, and just having fun with different forms on the wheel. Sometimes my best work comes from happy accidents and things that I didn’t intentionally make.
J: That is fab, and I think that is something that is so magical about the medium, that you never really quite know what the finished item will look like, especially with the glazes.
We are completely besotted by your personalised message mugs – what is your favourite wording request you have received so far?
Z: My favourite stamp inside a mug to date was “You are your own Greatest Strength” .
I love seeing what everyone is going to get and it comes as a surprise every time I do a drop. Small words of encouragement, some resonate with me some more than others.
J: The idea of a secret positive affirmation at the bottom of your morning coffee gives me such a warm fuzzy feeling!
If you can possible choose, what would you say is your biggest achievement (so far!)?
Z: My biggest achievement as a business owner is keeping a business afloat in the middle of a pandemic. When I was at school, I studied business studies as one of my A-levels, but I was at the bottom of my class. I really didn’t think I would ever be able to run a successful creative business but 2020 taught me that I am more than capable of achieving anything that I set my mind to. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, it’s actually very difficult and comes with a lot of tears and long nights, but success is a series of small steps which all add up.
J: I think anyone reading this will agree that your work ethic is something that anyone would aspire to, keep doing what you are doing and you are going to achieve SUCH amazing things!
So what are your plans and goals for your business in 2021?
Z: My goals for 2021 were to start classes, but with the pandemic this has obviously meant that my plans have had to pivot slightly. I am now looking at starting online tutorials and workshops. I really want to engage more with my community as I really enjoyed talking to them every day on Instagram, but I want to spend more time with them doing something which I love (which I know will bring them joy too). I also have aspirations of getting back to my sculptural work which I can display in more of a gallery space. I love that I have the ability to jump between functional and sculptural, I would never limit myself to one or the other.
J: Exciting stuff in the pipelines then!
So Zara I think it is safe to say we are convinced – where can we get our hands on your incredible work?
Z: Currently I run my drops on a first come first serve basis – I release 100 units of work at a time.
J: Well you heard the lady!
Keep up to date with the next drop of stock by giving her a follow on Instagram @zaraceramics
Tonight (15th Jan) at 8pm, Zara is releasing more wax burners from her collaboration with soy wax candle maker Olivia’s Haven, and then at 8pm on Monday (18th Jan), she will be dropping 100 mugs.
But get in there quick, these babies sell like hot cakes (or like loo roll last March), and deservedly so!
For now, have a peek at her gorge website, and have a scroll of her Insta feed to see what she’s up to!
Thanks for reading along this week, we can’t wait to share more of our Creative Q&As with you this year – watch this space because exciting things are coming!