Updated: Oct 22
Imagine, if you can, a world pre COVID pandemic isolation & quarantine. A world where you could still travel to international locations to escape to the sand & sun. Seems pretty far-fetched now, so join me on a virtual trip to the beautiful & sunny island of Barbados, where there is a bright & bustling ceramic studio called Earthworks Pottery.
I’ve been a lucky gal to visit Earthworks over 3 visits while in Barbados. The first time I went it I was like a kid in a candy store. That was back in 2014 before I owned my studio, and before I even knew I was one day going to own a studio. Oddly enough we had a family friend who lived in Barbados and was good sailing buddies with the owner of Earthworks Pottery- so we got a total studio tour! My latest visit though was a bit different from the first 2. This time, I was not only there for my own viewing pleasure, but researching, documenting & inspiring myself to create some new awesome pieces for none other than Duncan Ceramics!
Earthworks Pottery's studio is placed on top a hill with a beautiful view of the ocean, bright, open (albeit full of pottery) and welcoming. Their signature blue glaze (complemented with yellow, orange, green, white & pop of coral pink glaze) is found everywhere- and I mean everywhere. The front steps leading to their studio is mosaiced with broken pottery, beautifully sculpted barriers mosaiced with broken pottery, even the exterior of their building is one big beautiful mosaic complemented beautifully by all the lush, tropical greenery. I keep saying the word beautiful a lot, but the aesthetics are trulypleasing to the senses and mind, and perfectly define the word beautiful for me.
Retail shelves are overflowing with collections of plates and platters, mugs, bowls, dishes, vases and more. Each equally beautiful with the handmade craft & details apparent in each design. The best part of visiting Earthworks is that you don’t just get to browse their retail shelves, you can wander through their studio to see the pieces throughout the stages of completion. Whether the pieces are being poured into moulds, made by the pottery press or thrown on the wheel, it’s easy to see the dedication and love that goes into each piece. The staff are happy and welcome questions and comments about their work, and I could have spent hours watching their quick & skillful hands add the beautiful underglaze designs.
Everywhere you look are stacks, and stacks, and even more stacks of pottery. Even when you’re not at their studio, you still see Earthworks pottery around the island. Beautiful commissioned murals along the business district walls and ocean front boardwalk, house address & business signs, and many gift shops around the island.
Their latest ocean front boardwalk mural made to bring awareness to turtle hatchling sightings is a sight to behold. The bright & bold ceramic glaze colours on broken pottery were intentionally laid to complete the stunning mosaiced mural’s design. Seeing their murals is what really got my brain kicking into overdrive. I mean it was so overwhelmed with inspiration and ideas that it kind ceased up for a few days and I had to give it a kick start so I could get all my ideas sorted out.
I knew there had to be a way to respectfully & artistically pay homage to Earthworks Pottery and introduce other potters & ceramicists to their work. I was lucky to have been able to visit their studio 3 times and really get the feel and understanding of how much work went into their pieces… which was something I wanted to be sure to capture in my own interpretation.
Our last trip to Barbados ended with the anxiousness and uncertainty of the COVID spread through our travels home. It was nerve racking, to say the least. Upon our (safe) return home, we were required to quarantine 2 weeks after international travel. So, I had 2 full weeks with a whole lot of nothing to do, so what better way to fill the days than with a super time & focus consuming pottery painting technique? There was something about the meticulous work in laying each color burst crystal chip individually to the piece that was comforting and a welcoming distraction to the surge of the pandemic outside our apartment quarantine. Plus, I also had nothing else to do.
Earthworks turtle hatchling mural was my biggest source of inspiration due to all the elements it entailed. Full fish shaped platters & turtle shaped tiles were added to the wave design of the mural, while square, round & rectangle platters with detailed designs were also added with smaller broken pieces of pottery to complete the mural- each piece of broken pottery added to the mural looked like a piece of artwork on its own.
I was introduced to Duncan color burst crystal chips when I owned my own pyop studio, but had mostly used them on vertical surfaces for their beautiful melted & dripped results. I knew there had to be some sort of product available to me that would replicate both the look & process of mosaics on a flat surface. I have really come to love the process of creating mosaic looking pieces with the color burst crystal chips. The way the chips melt down but still remain individual by the tiniest division line between each chip so they don’t all melt together- much like the grout between tiles in mosaics. It excites me to no end to see the fired results.
I knew in my head how I wanted the finished results to look... and luckily it fired exactly that way! The process of laying each Color Burst Crystal Chip one at a time was definitely time consuming, but really gratifying and calming. Once I got in the rhythm of it I was able to work quickly and without over thinking it too much.
If you are a PYOP studio owner, this is something that would be great to offer to customers as a take-home kit. They can work at their own pace, and on their own time to get their piece made and it would be easy to pack up all that they would need to create it- a little goes a long way with the crystal chips!
For all the instructions & materials needed to try your own Color Burst Mosaic pottery, head on over to Duncan's site!