Back in the 1980’s I threw my first pot on a manual potters wheel, it was one of the most difficult things I had ever tried to do.. keeping clay on the wheel, standing up pushing the kick bar backwards and forwards to make the wheel go round and have some idea about what you are trying to achieve….Then in the late 1990’s I signed up for a pottery evening class at my local college, was I mad or did I just like getting messy? Obviously there was still a spark somewhere. I attended three times a week and was totally hooked. I loved throwing once I got the knack and creating slab and coil pots. Our house was quickly filling up with my work and friends and family knew what they would be getting for birthdays and Christmas.One day my husband asked ‘ what are you going to do with all these pots?’. My reply ‘ I have no idea, but I have lots more ideas and I want to continue. At the time we were living in a small house with a long garden. We sold and moved to our current home in the village of Tysoe in Warwickshire which had the perfect place for a studio and within 6 months the studio was built.
I started selling my work through the local tourist information centre and some craft fairs and in 2005 gave up the day job as a manager in the Civil Service to follow my dream and I launched Penny Varley Ceramics.It was scary with no money coming in but I stuck to my guns and introduced teaching pottery into my repertoire. As well as speaker events, both things I had been involved with in my previous life.I have a staple range of domestic ware bowls, jugs, coasters and tea towels and then I have my unique pieces. These are all one off’s and will often be inspired by the view I have from my studio up to the Edge Hill escarpment. I love to experiment with texture and colour and as a keen dog walker I observe and collect items on my walks to inspire new work. I am passionate about my garden and a few years ago decide to work with a clay that would be frostproof. New clay, new firing temperatures and new glazes have all taken my work on a different path.My purpose build garden studio is my area of calm and sanctuary. My commute to work is less than a minute (usually with a golden retriever and a cup of tea). The radio switches from radio 4 to radio 2 depending on my mood, but there is no phone or internet.’ organised chaos’ is how I would describe my studio as I often have more than one project on the go at a time. ‘ there is order but only I know what that order is’.
At the start of March my diary was full of commitments for shows, teaching and talks. As we know that all changes and I discovered Makers Market From Home. I decided to embrace social media and technology. I bought a new phone got posting and signed up for the makers market. July was my initiation. I loved setting up my stand and having something to work towards. I have missed my shows and fellow artists and the banter and the MMFH has filled that void for me. It was lovely to do the interview with Andy and the idea of ambassador is pure genius. As a designer maker of 3d object s it is difficult sometimes for customers to understand the processAnd to get the overall view of the work, any platform that enables that is a winner in my book. Thank you MMFH for having the vision and seeing it through.
Watch Penny’s interview on our Midday Makers series on IGTV.
Visit her Instagram @pennyvarleycermics