At Natalie Marie Jewellery we celebrate handmade artisan objects, and feel privileged to stock some beautiful pieces from ceramicist Julie Cloutier ...We were thrilled to catch up with Julie, to find out more about the process and what inspires her on a daily basis.
Tell us a little bit about your background, when did you begin working with ceramics and how did you get into it?
My background is in architecture. Before I began pursuing ceramics, I spent a decade getting 2 degrees in architecture and working in small residential architectural firms. Days spent on the computer had me craving physical work and I started taking classes in the evening. It soon became an intense hobby, and for many years, I just kept signing up for clay classes before having my own space. While still having a full-time job, I found a shared ceramics studio where I put my training to use and from there, the work and process took on a life of it’s own.
Where are you based & what influences and inspires you?
I recently moved to the tiny, rural town of Tomales, CA—just 50 miles north of San Francisco. I’m originally from Quebec, Canada but I’ve called California home for 15 years. Inspiration comes from looking closely at details in my everyday life and surroundings—from noticing small seasonal changes in plants in the yard to documenting concrete sidewalk patterns in the city. Architecture, drawing, painting, nature and language are equally influential components to my work.
What does your process look like, how important is the process itself in what you do?
Working with clay has many steps, so the process wins over. There’s always so much to do; wedging, throwing, trimming, bisquing, glazing, firing, cleaning or recycling clay. It’s a slow process, yet very satisfying. From start to finish, it takes at least 4 weeks for a single piece to be complete.
What does a typical day look like to you?
Most days are spent in the studio. I typically wake up without alarm between 7-8am and have a quiet, slow-paced morning. For a couple of hours I’ll have breakfast, a couple cups of tea and do some emails and web updates. Around 10am, I make my way in the studio and get a game plan for the day. (I work from home, so the commute is just a few rooms away) I decide what I need to make and for whom. I look at my calendar and make a list. I’ll spend the whole day throwing clay, and will take a quick lunch break and eat on the porch. Around 5-6pm I start to wrap up and spend a solid 30 minutes cleaning up. Some days are longer, but I try my best to stop after 7-8 hours on the wheel. I than prepare dinner with my husband. He does most of the cooking and I do the prep work and we eat a leisurely meal with wine. I stretch throughout the day and try to spend a little time outside, whether that’s gardening or a walk to the post office.
At NMJ we are all about the handmade artisan object, which is why we love your work so much. What does it mean to you to have your pieces become a part of peoples every day lives?
I love seeing my work in the wild, becoming routine for others. I’m so grateful that handmade work is still cherished and that every piece finds a home. It’s truly an honour to have my work in other people’s home and seeing/hearing how they use it in their day-to-day is so rewarding. I strive to make work that lasts a lifetime.
Shop a selection of Julie's ceramics here
PC Rachelle Derouin