Clay Body: Red earthenware 

Firing temperature: Cone 04–06 

Atmosphere: Electric kiln 

Surface treatment: Painting with underglazes 

Forming Method: Coiling 

Favorite tool/tools in your toolbox? Rubber kidney ribs, wooden hand tools, a wooden flat spatula for patting, and a whirler (banding wheel) 

Website and online shop: 

Social media: Instagram @deebarnesdesigns 

Describe the first piece you made in clay that you thought had potential/felt like your own style. I learned to coil a pot when I was 18 and fell in love with the process. I am now 60 and still search for my own unique style, which is a movable feast. 

What are you inspired by? There is no easy answer to this question as I am inspired by so many things including art and ceramics (old and new), but I can be inspired by simply walking into a room or building that holds a certain atmosphere. My current inspiration is drawn from Sèvres porcelain. 

What is your process for finding/designing new forms? I work very intuitively and spontaneously and do not plan what I am going to make until I get the bag of clay out. I might narrow it down to a box or vase but that is it. I see where the shape takes me as everything I make is a one-off. 

Who are your mentors? My mentors are fellow potters, customers, friends, and family. 

Favorite piece in your ceramic collection? I have a vast ceramics collection, which I have built up over the past 40 years, so to narrow it down, I will pick my favorite thrown mug, which I use every day. It’s made by a young potter, Iona Crawford Topp, whom I met at a fair last year and we have struck up a great friendship. 

Best piece of advice you ever received? Trust your instincts, be in the moment, and slow down the inner chatter. 

Best advice you can give to other potters? I tell my students that it’s fine to make wobbly/uneven pots or pots that are not perfect, but this must be done with intention, otherwise it’s just a badly made pot. (Although, I don’t tell this to my beginners class, I don’t want to frighten them off!) 

Describe your studio. I have always had a home studio, but I had a brief spell in a shared studio space toward the end of Covid-19 restrictions, and I found the experience very frustrating. Shortly after we moved three years ago, I converted half the garage into my studio space. 

Best thing about your studio? It’s at the end of my garden and looks out onto the house, which is a Georgian-period property. 

Wish list for your studio? I would love to move into the rest of the garage so I could teach in the space and I would love a bigger kiln so I can make bigger pots. 

Describe a typical day or session in the studio. Apart from the two days a week that I go out to teach, I spend the rest of my time drifting around the house and studio. I typically work in my studio any or every day of the week whether it’s for an hour or five. I love being close to my work and the kiln. 

To read more about Dee Barnes’ process, take a look at her article Tree of Life Candlestick