Potter at her wheel, lifting the pot and putting it on the side

Pottery through adversity: Jules Carpenter

Blog by Tamra Booth, Keeeps

Potter Jules Carpenter has lived by the sea for nearly 25 years. After growing up in Surrey and then years of living in London, she felt drawn to the coast, and eventually followed her best mate to Dorset and a calmer way of life. She can now see the sea from her house in Downton, Hampshire!

Having always been into art, Jules had desperately wanted to go to art college after school but got persuaded by her well-meaning mum to take a safer career route. She went into nursing while still doing art as a hobby to keep her creative juices flowing. But it was through adversity that Jules eventually found her artistic calling.

At the age of 42, Jules was shocked to discover she had a tumour and underwent brain surgery, which meant she had to have two years off work. Despite losing her hearing in one ear and suffering from tinnitus following her surgery, Jules began looking around for an art class to fit in around nursing and school runs with her two young daughters. The only class she could find in her available time slots was a pottery class. Not really knowing what she was letting herself in for, she attended the weekly classes as a comforting hobby, learnt the basics, and slowly but surely, she began to fall madly in love with pottery.

Jules started to buy pottery equipment and before long she had turned the garage at home into a home pottery studio. Initially she sold her work at craft fairs, then in 2013, the town in which she lives held a food festival and her pottery went down extremely well. At the time she wasn’t selling online as potters didn’t tend to have websites, so she continued selling at festivals and didn’t look back.

Over the last 5 years, pottery has become a more intense part of Jules’ life. She is still working as a registered nurse and specialist in occupational health in the private sector, but the pottery has really started to really take off. She has increased her production and been trying different methods and shapes, and basically doing whatever she feels like doing:

“I spent a long time trying to churn out identical work as I thought that’s what people wanted, but it used to drive me insane, trying to make everything uniform. Now I just do what I like, and people seem to like it!”

Jules favourite method is ‘throwing’ which is basically making pottery on the wheel. She only throws the same design a few times. “Once I’ve done it ten times, I am like, okay, that’s enough, time to move on!”

Using off-the-shelf glazes, Jules mixes them beautifully together to create unique blends. She is yet to make her own glazes, but you can sense this may be on the horizon which is exciting considering what she is producing with commercial glazes.

Jules absolutely loves making mugs, not just because they are fun to make but also because people then use them every day. She loves making platters for the decorations she can apply, and she has a penchant for using real leaves in her designs.

One of Jules’ favourite current styles is her pinch pots, where she literally pinches pottery into shape with her fingers and thumbs, to create indented and misshapen kitchenware and more. This method is the ultimate in handmade design, you can see the fingerprints and feel and sense the love that goes into pinch pots.

“I love making pinch pots so much. Instead of knitting in front of the telly, I sit there happily making pinch pots!”

Keeeps stocks Jules Carpenter’s pottery on a regular basis at www.keeeps.co.uk

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