BEHIND THE SCENES: WHAT KATE LOVES
Old postcards. Shells. Butterflies. These are just some of Kate’s favourite things, and she loves applying them to her ceramic range. In fact, it was a drawing of a butterfly garden that won her a sought-after Blue Peter badge at age six. 30 years on, it’s still her main source of inspiration. We went behind the scenes at Kate’s Yorkshire workshop to find out more about What Kate Loves.
Where did your love of illustration come from?
I have always loved drawing since I can remember and couldn’t honestly imagine doing anything else. Surface pattern designing is a great trade as it’s so versatile and varied. Pattern and illustration can be applied to almost anything.
Surface pattern designing felt like a natural progression for me as I wanted to gain commercial experience – I knew I wanted to draw for a living so I just applied this skill and learnt how to create repeat patterns.
My designs always start with a sketch. I love drawing and enjoy experimenting with different tools. I used a calligraphy dip-nib pen for the majority of my current range, but I like to use a variety of inks, pens and even sticks to create interesting lines. I’ll refer to Pinterest, of course, and also my mood boards, photographs, vintage books and illustrated guides for inspiration. I then bring the process over to the computer and combine my hand-drawings with digital techniques. This results in a vintage-inspired look, which also has a clean and contemporary edge.
Why did you choose to use ceramics?
I trained firstly as a studio potter and I then completed my MA in ceramic design at Staffordshire University in 2007. I always knew I wanted to create my own range after studying. Having studied in Stoke-on-Trent, I discovered some amazing potteries such as Burleigh Pottery in Middleport which I find very inspiring.
Stoke is an area which has unfortunately been struck by the decline of British manufacturing, and a lot of it is boarded up now, but I have faith that one day it will be returned to its former glory. The history of the industry is really important to me, so I’d always recommend a visit to places like Wedgwood, where you can learn more about ceramic traditions and heritage.
In my work I aim to create the cherished objects of the future; I want to keep the tradition of this craft alive by producing things, which are timeless, beautiful, and of the highest quality from Stoke-on-Trent. I’d love my pieces to be as precious and meaningful for others as they are for me, and to become treasures that the owners will cherish for years to come.
What inspires your designs?
A lot of the inspiration for my work comes from nature. I’ve always been drawn to organic forms like the patina on stone walls and the textures of old wood, and the patterns of leaves and wild flowers. Travel is really important to me – in a very high-pressured fast moving world we need to make the time to explore.
My parents used to take us to the wilds of the British countryside as children, and I still love to roam in places like the Yorkshire Dales and the Scottish Highlands, because you can get such a sense of peace there, and there’s so much undisturbed beauty. It can sometimes take me hours just to walk through a field as I’m endlessly taking photos of plants and butterflies along the way!
What’s been your proudest moment so far as a designer?
The day the range launched in September 2014 was one of the most exciting and also terrifying moments so far. The first year in business has been an interesting ride. I’ve learnt along the way about pricing, wholesale, retail, accounting and generally how to run a business, and I don’t regret a minute of it.
I’ve had such a positive response so far from customers and the press. My plan is to launch more products including textiles and prints, so watch this space!
If you were having a dinner party using your beautiful pieces, what would you serve?
I like to eat food that I can share when I have friends round so it would probably be a variety of stone-baked pizzas, with a lovely seasonal salad served in the Wild Garden Sketches Bowl (holding onto summer!). I like using the floral burst jug for salad dressing, it’s a lovely size to pop in the fridge door.