Ceramicist Elissa Palser was taught the art of making stoneware birds by her mother who made them before her…
Describe your workspace.
When my mum died last year I inherited her studio in rural Carmarthenshire – the hidden gem of Wales! It’s a large space in a converted farm building. I have it better organised than she did but her presence is still there – to have her work, tools, sculptures and paintings surrounding me is very comforting.
Tell us about the making process.
The first part is making a press mould to create the bird’s shape – it can take months to get right! I fill the mould with clay, leave it to harden, then pop out and smooth down before moulding the tail, wings and beak. Each bird is biscuit fired and decorated by hand, then fired to lovely glazed stoneware.
What makes your birds special?
They are impressions rather than painstaking reproductions of British garden birds. This gives them more vitality and a sense of life that many bird ornaments often lack.
Do you have a favourite?
It has to be the Bullfinch. He’s the latest addition to the collection and it was such a struggle to find the right colours! I think he’s rather smart.
What do you love about what you do?
Being connected to the earth through having my hands in clay and the soothing rhythm of the making process. I particularly like opening a kiln after a glaze firing, they never fire exactly the same twice and it’s so exciting to see what magic has occurred!
Describe your creative style in three words.
Across-medium, colourful and natural.
To find out more about Elissa’s characterful creations, visit The National Trust.Tweet