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Potter of the Month (Nov-Dec 18) - James Faulkner

1. What general skills & techniques do you use? (e.g. throwing etc)


I use a number of techniques in my making. Throwing would be my major technique along with thrown and altered.  I will also use slab building techniques, and on occasion slip casting to achieve my required shapes.



2. Tell us a bit about your experience and knowledge:


With the advent of the unique surface that I began developing at university, came a commitment to perfect my method, which initiated a somewhat solitary journey into the unknown. My experience has been built through a continual cycle of test, consider, adjust, resulting in the specific knowledge base required to create the precise effect that I create today. Built in to this journey was the imperative to also achieve unity between the surface and the form. I find this stimulating evolution of experience and knowledge which manifests itself in my work highly motivating. It is the reason I will forever continue to test, consider and adjust.


a. Where have you studied and learnt your skills


I began my education and fascination with clay whilst at Lincoln College of Art and Design in 2007/8, whilst taking the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design. Yearning to know more, I applied to Loughborough University School of the Arts to study their BA (Hons) 3D Design. Whilst there I learnt a great many technical skills, read lots and developed my own ideas with which to better explore the potential clay had to offer.


 b. How long have you been a potter


The inevitable conclusion of being medically discharged from the Royal Air Force in 2007, having been left partly disabled from a single seizure caused by a brain tumour, created an opportunity to discover a new future. During the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design I kept my mind open and tried working with various media. Perhaps I became a potter during my first and only one-on-one throwing lesson during the course, or maybe whilst making work for the end of year show. By then, clay held a fascination for me that couldn't be dulled. The raw potential and the possibilities inherent within captivated me in a way nothing else could.


c. Who has inspired you along your path


I have been inspired to follow a path made for me by my experience and ideas from day one, I guess my life experiences and worldwide travels courtesy of my time in the RAF, helped shape the person I became and the things I found inspirational. These experiences along with fabulous makers who I researched and felt inspired by during my studies and gave direction to my work. On top of this I spent time at university studying the work and inspirations of such fabulous and inspirational makers as, Charles Bound, Wendy Lawrence, Rachel Wood, Claudi Casanovas, Sebastian Blackie, Violette Fassbaender, Ewen Henderson, Hans Coper and Aki Moriuchi. They have all shown me that my ideas and inspirations have a place, and that I can travel my own path, and in doing so be inspired to create (I'm told) uniquely original work.


3. Explain your work 


Currently my work is made using a series of methods and self-taught techniques, to produce a range that encompasses my inspirations and ideas, and tells the imagined story of an object's journey, of erosion and decay, back into the earth, through time, to nothing.


a. Processes involved e.g. clays used, firing range etc 


I use Valentine’s stoneware P560 and P570 in my making, from which I produce the forms, and also the slips that are the basis of my textured surfaces. My process is most commonly one of initially making the form, then applying slip in layers of various colours, shades, oxides and thicknesses. Once complete and dry I can texture the surface of the work using my eroded slip technique which I began developing at university. 

All areas of clay body showing through the slip, where I have eroded deeper than other areas are then painted in with an oxide wash, and the work then biscuit fired to 980 degrees, before the insides of vessels are glazed and then re-fired to 1260. The non-vessel objects I create are once fired to 1220-1260 degrees.


b. What has been your proudest piece that you have produced and why


A difficult question to answer! I guess that my proudest piece to date would be the rectangular form chosen to be featured under my name, with a description of the eroded slip technique I've developed in The Potters Dictionary of Materials and Techniques. Having said that I am continuously developing and altering my range, as I search for the piece that not only encompasses the essence of my inspirations and feelings, but is also the piece that is truly the pinnacle of what I can achieve. The search continues...


c.What are your future ambitions?


Since my interview for a place at university, my ambitions have not changed, they revolve around achieving recognition for my work and, in doing so, vindication for my ideas. Being published is a big step forwards but the goals have not changed. I have work now in four countries around the world and have a growing market in the UK. But, to me, the one thing that embodies the concept of having truly ‘arrived’ is the purchase of a piece meant for display in the ceramics rooms at the Victoria and Albert Museum.


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