VanillaKiln is the work of Jude Winnall, a designer maker:
"I am a trained graphic designer but since moving back to Wales some years ago I have been concentrating on my passion for clay – initially as a sculptor and now as a ceramics artisan. I pride myself on well crafted products and good customer service. My work can be described as inspired, spiritual and sculptural."
I love that moment when I have thought of something original. I have an affinity with beautiful fabrics (after years of dressmaking) and this inspired the linen and lace collections. Other ceramics draw upon my design background or are inspired by forms found in nature – living in beautiful North Wales is a rich source of visual material.
Some of my work has been created by engaging with the clay on a spiritual level where intervention and serendipity is in careful balance. A perfect form is likely to be the result of both concentration and a happy accident – for example, gravity making its mark. During the making process I like to be free of outside disturbances, internal worries and anxieties (if only for a few hours) until the process is complete. I hope that those good vibes are evident in the work I create.
I also offer ceramics that have a spiritual function or message. For example, candle holders used for prayer and rituals, receiving bowls to thank the universe, feather jewellery to remind us of loved ones, or a simple soap dish making those daily routines more pleasing.
A lot of my ceramics are completely unique and made without using moulds. For the poppy bowls I select areas of clay with cracked edges to form the petals and use sculptural techniques and wonderful glaze combinations to add expression and interest to the poppy centres.
Other designs are more controlled and start their life in paper. Techniques like cutting, folding, shaping and gluing can be applied to clay. So a new idea is often developed in paper first, and if viable, will be progressed into a hand built clay prototype.
I utilise many different modelling styles for the porcelain components of my jewellery. The exquisite snowdrops are precise and realistic but the linen impressed pieces are more freeform and expressive. But all my jewellery is about craftsmanship and aesthetics rather than intrinsic value.
PORCELAIN AND THE CERAMIC PROCESS
Originally from China, porcelain is now manufactured by hundreds of companies around the world. Porcelain is well known for its white, translucent quality and is the main component of parian porcelain, china, fine china, English china and bone china. Even though it is whiter than porcelain, bone china contains animal bones from unknown sources so I don't use it. My porcelain is suitable for vegans, it is made in England and loved by sculptors because of its wonderful malleability.
When my clay is prepared to the right consistency it can be impressed with textures, draped like fabric, ruffled like lace and curved like card. When it is leather hard it is beautiful to handle and at this stage I do the assembling, carving and refining.
After the pieces have been formed, they need to dry out completely for a week or so before they can be glazed. Glazes enhance the form and contrast with areas of unglazed porcelain and I fire everything in my kiln at 1220ºC to achieve vitrification. Porcelain is a self glazing clay so any areas that are unglazed will be sealed and water tight.