Ceramics Monthly: How do you balance form and function in your pots, while achieving the aesthetic you desire?

Florian Gadsby: My style is inherently simple, mainly because I try to create the pots I can imagine living with and using. They’re the objects I’d like to have fill my kitchen cupboards and sit on my mantelpiece. Straight sides, sharp edges, thinly trimmed walls, and hollows where glaze can pool are common traits in my vessels, as are pulled handles, which are perhaps more organic in nature versus the highly trimmed surfaces I usually go for—hence why I occasionally even fettle the handles to be thinner and lighter.

As my forms are so straightforward, I’ve looked for glazes that add depth. In all my testing over the years, I’ve searched for similar glazes and finishes, those that are more than just a flat layer of color, as otherwise my work becomes quite blocky and dull. I use high-iron stoneware, feldspathic crackle glazes, and fire in reduction to cone 10. 

One obsession I’ve had ever since starting to make ceramics is that of creating pots that are light and delicate. This is in part because the glazes I’ve come to use must go on so thickly. If they were heavily constructed, then my pots would end up quite hefty, so it pushes me to throw and trim to quite exacting measures. As the thick layers of glaze melt and soften the careful clay work underneath, I often try to exaggerate sharpnesses and even trim cylinders to taper in at the bottom slightly, as I know the glaze will flow down and fill those gaps.

I used to create work that was primarily focused on function, but as time has gone by, I’ve embraced those qualities that make my pots stand out with my voice. Some vessels have narrow bases that could topple over easily and others have razor-sharp, iron-encrusted rims that might fracture if bashed. I’d rather focus on those qualities and make vessels that embody what I like rather than creating very rounded, smooth, and safe pots, the likes of which factories make.

In terms of color, I keep things muted. My pots are bathed in veneers of pale white, gray, green, and blue, although I’m cautiously expanding that range (I’m rarely satisfied by the glaze tests I fire). The colors match the clothes I wear, unintentionally perhaps. They say that dogs look like their owners, and I think the very same can be said for us potters.

Lastly, there’s the reduction-fired element to my work. It provides some controlled spontaneity and occasionally causes large blots of iron to permeate my bowls and mugs. There are patches of oxidation, too, that creep in and cause the flame’s path to be permanently imprinted as a discolored mark on a pot’s side. I used to dislike both of these imperfections, but after working with Lisa Hammond, she persuaded me to think otherwise, thank goodness. 

Topics: Ceramic Artists