Blacksmith Ceramics – My chat with Hannah Blackall-Smith

11 March 2020


I first came across Blacksmith Ceramics while shopping in Copenhagen a couple of months ago, and as I held the small handmade bowl in my hands, little did I realise just how much I had in common with its maker.

From rediscovering your creative spirit, carving out a career from your passions, to taking the leap and living the Danish dream, it’s safe to say Hannah Blackall-Smith has achieved a lot over the last few years.

But how did this Mum from Kent end up on the cover of Elle Decoration Denmark recently?

Blacksmith Ceramics – My chat with Hannah Blackall-Smith

Here’s what Hannah had to tell me:

How did you become an English Potter in Copenhagen and what impact has it had on you personally and artistically?

After the birth of my second child in 2015 I needed to find a creative outlet in my life again, so started a Saturday morning class at The Ceramic Studio in Kent.

I instantly felt at home at the pottery wheel and what followed was an intense period of pottery practice and a growing obsession.

It was during this time I began to follow a number of potters on Instagram and YouTube, many of which were based in Copenhagen, a city I already had a fondness for.

In the same month as our third child arrived my husband decided to move his career from London to Copenhagen. So, when we arrived 6 months later, I began a week-long course at the incredible Tortus Studio.

Living in Copenhagen I am always inspired and amazed by the opportunities it gives me and young families like mine.

Blacksmith Ceramics – My chat with Hannah Blackall-Smith

 

Blacksmith Ceramics – My chat with Hannah Blackall-Smith

Can you tell more about Black Smith Ceramics and what a typical day in the studio looks like?

Blacksmith Ceramics came about when I realised that by altering my own name, Blackall-Smith, I could name my work something both personal and also evocative of traditional hand crafts.

On a ‘typical day’ in the studio I alternate between throwing, trimming, glazing and firing. I don’t spend much time drawing, as most of my ideas are better ‘sketched’ on the wheel.

I also spend as much time as possible assisting at the studio of former Tortus apprentice Tasja Pulawska. By working alongside other talented craftspeople, you learn and develop so much.

Who or what inspires you when it comes to creating your pieces?

When I first took up ceramics, I read about the traditional British studio potters of the 1960s and 70s and soaked up all the traditional techniques that I could; many of which I fall back on today as I pull all my handles by hand and I make teapots in a very old-school way. This involves throwing and assembling each component piece by eye.

I am also greatly inspired by the processes involved in Wheel-Thrown pottery. For me there is something soothing about the spinning momentum of the wheel and it is this energy I like to show in my work and the marks it transfers into the stoneware clays I use.

In terms of design I like to make a modern and minimalist take on historical and classical shapes, such as the English teacup, Greek amphora or Japanese tea bowl.

Blacksmith Ceramics – My chat with Hannah Blackall-Smith

What for you is the best thing about working with stoneware clay?

I prefer stoneware for the durability it retains when thrown fairly thinly. I also like to leave some outside sections exposed from glaze and I love the rough stoniness of it.

I also work in porcelain altered with black grog and I do this only when I really want some translucency. Otherwise I find beautiful stoneware in colours ranging from white to chocolate and black and mix, blend and marble them together.

Where can we buy your work and who do you collaborate with?

There are so many exciting collaborations happening in Danish ceramics right now, such as Cathrine Raben Davidsen and Royal Copenhagen, and I for one would love to explore a similar project of my own in the future.

For now, my work can be found at Stilleben and also in a lovely smaller retail space in Vesterbro called, No. 24.

If you are not heading to Copenhagen anytime soon though, you can buy my work directly from my website or find me on Instagram.

Thank you so much to Hannah for chatting with me, I cannot wait to add a piece or two to my collection.

All photography via Hannah Blackall-Smith.

Like this post? Then why not read my chat with Marita Lindholm, the founder and creative powerhouse behind Swedish ceramics brand Lindform.

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