All my work is a direct response to the natural environment. Rather than seeking to make patterns or designs based on nature, I am looking to record and celebrate its particularity – this leaf, in this wood, at this particular time of year. Many of the things I make can only be made at a particular time of year – for example, the bowls inlaid with young oak leaves have to be done in May as soon as the trees start breaking bud. Others, like the poplar and ivy leaves, are made in winter when the cold and rain reveal the intricate vein patterns of fallen leaves.
The methods I use are a modern reworking of the ancient techniques of encaustic or mishima. In these techniques, a pattern is pressed or traced into clay and filled with clay of a contrasting colour. Once the clay has hardened slightly, the design is scraped back with a sharp blade to reveal the inlaid pattern.
I find that it is possible to use this technique to inlay impressions made by natural objects in such a way that their intricate detail is preserved, in the same way that a fossil preserves the form of an extinct animal. The process is exacting and very time-consuming, but it preserves the beauty and suchness of a single leaf or plant forever.
I use a variety of clays including white earthenware, terracotta, and grogged stoneware.