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Q + A | JUDITH HOFFMANN

THE STORY OF YOUR PRACTICE

How did you get into your practice? 

After my second son was born I started pottery classes in the evening so I could get out of the house the minute my husband came home from work. 

 

What’s your design background? 

My mother is an accomplished crafter and I grew up with handmade things all around me. I remember, as a teenager showing my mum clothes that I wanted and she would say “no problem, I can make those for you”, which I hated of course! But my professional background is in education, even though I always had wanted to study interior design. There was never anything around me that I hadn’t painted or decorated. Much to my boys dismay even all of our charging cables in our house are crocheted...

 

How and when did the practice come into being, and how has it evolved over time (if at all)? 

Once I was pregnant with my 3rd son I stopped working and this really gave me time to reflect on how I really wanted to spend my life. When I had started pottery classes it was as if an old knowledge that I didn’t even know I had came back to me. It felt so natural and joyful, I knew straight away that was what I wanted to do. I feel incredibly grateful that my practice has grown slowly and step by step over the years. 

 

Is your practice informed by any specific set of values or principles? 

I try to reflect constantly on how I want to spend my time in my practice and how I want it to grow. I am not interested in growing my business to more than I can make with my own hands. It’s important that none of my work is made under pressure or mechanical, this is for me then a time where I step back and reevaluate. Making things by hand is for me always a conscious process that I want people to feel when they use my pottery every day. As much as possible of everything I use is recycled, from my clay to packaging, containers etc. 

 

How does your studio or workspace function in the day-to-day?

My workspace is very fluid. My house doesn’t offer room for a studio, so previously I rented a studio space but with lockdown I now have  my wheel on the deck, which is what I never ever wanted to do. But do you know what… I love it! This way I never have to quickly clean everything because it’s time for school pick up, I can finish things after dinner or whenever I want. 

 

Style and influences.

How would you define your work?

Clean lines, natural tones. My design interest is always the shape first, texture next. I’m a very tactile person and always on the hunt for the elusive perfect texture in a glaze. 

 

Do you see your work as belonging to any particular style or tradition?

No, the beauty in having my own business is that I can do what I like when I like it. I feel blessed that my sense in style and design seems to be in fashion at the moment, but when that fades I will still do the same work. I admire Japanese design and dare I say it … Wabi Sabi 

 

What matters most to you in considering and developing a project?

Most importantly that I don’t have to bend and stay true to myself and my work. It needs to feel right and flow. When there is no flow and too many obstacles pop up is usually a sign for me to back out. 

 

Who/what are your greatest influences? (Anyone or anything that feeds your work, directly or indirectly.)

Always nature! 

 

Sustainability.

Talk me through the ways that sustainability features in your work.

Ceramics is such a natural old style process that sustainability is natural and a given. You would really have to go out of your way to make it a not sustainable process. We use earth from Australia, natural minerals for glazes, recycling clay is always done, wherever you go. 

I reuse all my packaging material that a whole posse of friends kindly collect for me, but this is only possible in a small business and I am aware that sooner or later I will have to resort to bought (sustainable) packaging. 

 

Your process. 

How do you come up with a project? 

Most of the work I do is for shops or markets, which means making similar objects most of the time. To make things interesting I throw in play time every once in a while where I just play with shapes and new vessels and what I like best out of this will make it into my repertoire. 

What inspires you most? 

Again, a new shape or elusive texture in a glaze often inspired by shapes and textures around me and in nature. 

 

Where do you do your best designing/creating? (Any literal situations that stimulate your desire to design, ie. when you are travelling, when you are having a great conversation…)

I don’t do any formal designing on paper, just sit at the wheel and explore. But my best planning and organising I used to do in a cafe sitting by myself and writing down my thoughts. In busy pre lockdown life that was often the only time to myself and I really enjoyed that. 

 

Your clients.

Do you work with a broad scope of clients, or do you have a preferred kind of client/brief? (Would be wonderful to get a good sense of your portfolio here.)

I mainly sell my work wholesale in shops around Australia. Some shops stock my work continuously, some come and go. There is a nice flow to this and I found most clients very relaxed and understanding to work with. The more precise their order is the more can go wrong (eg, work fired in 2 kiln loads with different glaze results, or they want 4 mugs but 1 broke etc), and in ceramics there is always something that will. 

 

How closely do you work with a client? 

I works very loosely with my clients. As everything that they order is from my usual repertoire I don’t feel the need for deposits or any formal arrangements. 

 

What have been some of the most satisfying projects that you have worked on? Why were they so effective / enjoyable?

My very first big client that I’m still working with would take everything that I had on my shelves when it was time to restock. An absolute dream come true, no need for me to count and recount if I had made the right amount of items or hope the firings would turn out the same. 

 

The future.

Where do you see the practice in five years? Ten years? Twenty!

I would like my practice to be exactly the same in 5, 10 or 20 years from now. But the space I would be working in would be my dream studio. I love dreaming up the best studio, that would be spacious, light, near my home. Maybe shared by friends. Busy manifesting this!