DCA Shop Designer Q&A: Steph Liddle


24 July 2018

It's always an exciting day in DCA shop when we get a new delivery of Steph Liddle ceramics. Based right here in Dundee, Steph creates porcelain jewellery and homeware decorated in her own distinctive style. We caught up with her to chat about her process, inspiration and tea...

Hi Steph! Your designs are always a big hit in DCA Shop. Can you tell us a bit about how you got started and what drew you to the world of ceramics?

Ceramics was a bit of a tangent for me! I studied Illustration at Duncan of Jordanstone Collage of Art and Design (DJCAD) where I didn't even touch a lump of clay. It wasn't until a few years after I graduated that I started experimenting with ceramics when I did a short leisure course at Abroath College. I'd been curious about ceramics for a while, and initially signed up just as something to do as a bit of fun and as a new surface to draw on, but as soon as I picked up that first lump of clay I was hooked! After that I started buying bags of clay and playing around in my studio - figuring out how different clays responded in my hands, and finding out how my drawings and patterns translated onto the surfaces of the objects I was making.

" soon as I picked up that first lump of clay I was hooked!"

Process and making has always been really central to the work I make and I think that's definitely part of the appeal of ceramics for me. It's a very physical process which I love, it feels like your whole body really has to get involved, but it also has so much science to it which definitely helps to satisfy that part of my brain! I'm a big lover of learning and play (especially when they're both combined!) and there's so much of both of these within ceramics - I feel like I could spend a lifetime exploring and it would still only be the tip of the iceberg with lots more to learn and discover.

Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?

The recurring core theme of my work is the idea of ‘home’ and ‘home comforts’, especially the role of food, and many of my minimal patterns are inspired by culinary staples. For example, the recurring dash and curve motifs I use are inspired by rice and macaroni – classic comfort foods reduced to their most basic shapes! Food is almost always on my mind so it's only natural it would make its way into my work.

I've always got at least one sketchbook on me and often find myself cracking it out to jot down quick sketches of patterns and ideas - the illustrator in me is still very much a big part of how I make - and I have piles and piles of them around full of patterns and unexplored ideas that are great to look back through and cherry pick from if I'm ever feeling stuck or uninspired.

All of your designs are hand-crafted. What's your favourite part of this process?

That's such a difficult question! Each part of the process has its own things to love - there's a great sense of satisfaction at the end of a day of making pots or necklaces when you see them all lined up, and drawing the patterns onto the clay once it's dried has a real meditative monotony about it that you can really get lost in. I think my favourite part of my process has to be the odd glimpses of time where I get the chance to make one-off pieces just for fun though - I try and set aside a bit of time to experiment as regularly as I can so that I can avoid feeling a bit stale if I'm working on a few orders from stockists or towards an event which means I end up drawing the same patterns on repeat! 

What does a typical day in the Steph Liddle studio look like?

It depends on the day! It's such a long process from start to finish which means I tend to batch up my time - casting pots and making necklaces one day, drawing patterns another. Drawing the patterns onto the pots and necklaces is definitely the most time consuming part of the process (it can take me up to an hour just to decorate one pot!) so that's probably the task I'm most likely to be doing - one day of casting pots probably equates to 3 or 4 days of decorating. I often pop a podcast on when I'm in the studio, or I'll let BBC 6 Music provide the soundtrack, and let my brain do one thing while my hands do another. And there are always lots of cups of tea to keep me fuelled - always in a handmade ceramic mug of course!

"...there are always lots of cups of tea to keep me fuelled - always in a handmade ceramic mug of course!"

Who are your favourite designers and makers at the moment?

There are so many! I'm a big fan of lots of other DCA Shop stalwarts like Hilary Grant, Tom Pigeon and Laura Spring who are all makes and brands that I definitely look up to a lot. It's great to have been able to see how their work has grown and evolved over the past few years and I'm super excited to see where it goes next for them.

What's next on the horizon?

I'll be launching a new collection over the next few months which I'm very excited about! I've been working on a new jewellery collection which uses a deliciously rich copper lustre to bring a pop of sparkle and warmth which contrasts beautifully with the marble smooth Parian porcelain that I use. I'm also working on some new, larger forms to add to my 'STAPLE' collection of pots too which will launch at the same time, as well as lots of one-off pieces which I usually sell online and at design markets.

I also run ceramics classes from Meadow Mill in Dundee which are great fun and I have a few of those coming up over the next few months too. First up is 'MUGNIFICENT' in September where we'll be making DIY ceramic cups and mugs, then 'JINGLE' in November which will be full of festive themed ceramic fun! 

Thanks Steph! You can find a selection of Steph's dash, curve and grid designs in DCA shop now and watch out for some new designs landing very soon. Be the first to find out when by following us on Instagram

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