Guest Blog - Kate Lovery

This week’s guest Kate Lovery, is a ceramicist, hand making jewellery using porcelain and then painting it showing off her creative flair. Her delicate pieces, some incorporating gemstones and leather, are beautiful and unique. She is proof that the creative maker can work in relatively small spaces to produce, each season, an eclectic collection with a fresh modern feel.

In Conversation with Kate. 

Laura: There are so many things I’d like to ask you Kate but first tell me a bit about your life and where you’re based?

Kate: I’m Kate Lovery, designer maker of Little Lovers Ceramics. I live in an old moor side cottage just outside the town of Ilkley, West Yorkshire. I’ve been lucky enough to work in different countries and I lived in Australia for over 10 years. When I eventually moved back to the UK I wanted to live close to my family in Yorkshire. My career experience is in PR, project management and events. Always in an account management capacity, rather than the creative side.

L: How did your creative journey begin then?

K: I felt like a frustrated creative for many years. I studied art at school and would have loved studying a creative subject at college but I felt a lot of peer pressure to get an academic degree. I’ve really enjoyed my career and still do, but I always felt that creative career choices were for other people. So my creativity was channelled through various hobbies – I was always painting old furniture or playing around on the sewing machine.

When I decided to go to college again in 2016, this time to study Ceramic Design, I never thought I would have an exciting ceramics business. I just wanted to learn again and to find a creative outlet. The course gave me a real sense of freedom and validity that I’d not felt before. I learnt there is no right or wrong when it comes to creativity. You might not master a particular technique or an experiment might not go as planned but whatever the result, creativity is as much about the process as the end product.

L: Why was your choice ceramics and how did the jewellery making begin?

K: Having always loved ceramics, I booked myself onto a 10-week intensive wheel throwing course back in 2015. I loved it so much that I went on to study Ceramic Design at Harrogate College. I spent time developing my throwing and hand building skills, making bowls, platters, dishes and vases. Towards the end of my 2 year course, I’d seen some porcelain jewellery pieces that inspired me to create some designs of my own, for Christmas gifts. They were well received. When a shop owner asked me if she could stock them? Little Lovers began!

I love jewellery, it can have so many meanings. It’s expressive and helps tell the story of who we are. It speaks to our history, our life experiences. It is used to show love and care for another person.

I think perceptions have changed over the last few years because when I began telling people I made jewellery from clay, their first impression was something heavy and clunky. I work predominantly with porcelain, it’s very light and I try and infuse it with lots of colour. I’m trying to create wearable art with each design.

L: What do you enjoy most about being a maker working with porcelain and clay?

K: Clay is just so fun and versatile – there’s no end of ways in which you can play and create. Working with clay keeps me calm and focussed. I’ve come to realise that when I’m not, things just don’t turn out well. If I try and rush the process or I’m not concentrating on what I’m doing, I’ll mess it up. So in that sense, I think it really helps my mental health, it gets me into a good headspace.

The other thing I’ve come to understand is that anything made by hand is going to be unique and have little reflections of the maker in it. Someone else could come along and try to replicate it but whatever they make will reflect them. I think it’s one of the reasons why ceramics have had such a resurgence over the last few years – people want to buy pieces for their home that are unique and to have jewellery with imagination.

L: What else is important to you?

K:I’m very conscious of fast fashion using plastics in accessories. I try very hard to minimise plastic in the choices I make. Clay is a natural product. The glazes I use are non-toxic, so I know that eventually if my hand made work ends up in landfill, (many moons from now), they will break down, leaving no plastic legacy behind.

L: Using five words describe your work.

K: Contemporary designs with vintage undertones.

L: Who or what influences you and your work?

I’ve collected ceramics, particularly vintage and retro pieces, since I was a teenager. I’m always on the lookout for more whenever I go to car boot sales, charity shops or auctions. I find inspiration in these collected pieces, particularly shape and colour. Old prints and paintings are a great source too. That said, I actually think inspiration and in turn my creativity, is mostly driven by how I’m feeling at the time. It could be anything, hearing a song, a beautiful view or a change in the season.

L: Your work is constantly evolving and each season you have a limited design collection, how do you manage that?

K: I would like to turn Little Lovers into a full-time job and create opportunities for others to join me and get involved in a creative business. I do a lot of juggling because I have a full-time job as the Operations Director of the Ilkley Literature Festival.

L: What do you do when you’re not creating?

K: So between growing Little Lovers and my full-time job, I don’t have much spare time. I love being outdoors, running, spending time cooking, seeing family and friends at last.

L: What is your next project? What have you got coming up?

K: For unique homeware, I’ve got some earthenware clay I’m experimenting with and I hope to launch some platters and bowls in the autumn.

It already looks like a busy Christmas period with quite a few artisan markets and Christmas Fairs booked. So my focus is getting ready in time. Apart from building up stock, I’m also working on some new earrings and necklaces for the winter season. I’ve got brooches in development and this year I’m hoping to add bangles.

L: What advice would you give to people wanting to have a creative business?

K: The quicker you stop comparing yourself to other creatives the better - only you can produce the work you do. That’s special.

However long you think something is going to take, double it, especially in the beginning when you are doing everything and are learning along the way. Give yourself permission to try and to fail. You’ll see things in an entirely new and different way. It’s a valuable learning curve. 

In the first couple of years, take every opportunity afforded to you. Some of these may go nowhere but others could be of great benefit to you and your business.

Laura: thank you Kate, its been a pleasure finding out about you and how you're business started. You make it sound easy but making something in Porcelain that small and making it look so beautiful is allot harder than it looks!

Your product is unique and I already know my family and friends are going to have a few treats this Christmas thanks to you. 

Shop Kate's Trinket Dishes here at D&C

Please do go follow Kate here

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