Ceramicist and Instagram star Florian Gadsby takes us step-by-step through the processes and techniques he uses to make a collection of angular vessels
I started throwing pots at a young age at the Waldorf Steiner school I attended in South London. Clay was a material we started using in kindergarten and it was a consistent medium in my education from age five to 19 years-old. At 16 I became infatuated with throwing after watching one of my first pottery teachers throw a vase on the wheel in what felt like seconds. I quickly came to the conclusion – after getting plenty of practice – that pottery could be something I would like to spend the rest of my life doing.
Towards the end of my time at Waldorf Steiner, I did a work placement at the Leach Pottery in St Ives and upon graduation from school was successful in gaining one of 12 coveted spots on the DCCI Ceramics Skills and Design Training Course in Thomastown, Ireland. This intensive two-year course hammered skills into the attendees and it was treated more like a job than a part-time course.
Two years later, I started an apprenticeship with potter Lisa Hammond in Greenwich, London. This was a chance to see how a studio operates from the inside-out and it gave me the opportunity to really hone my skills, especially increasing the speed at which I could throw while maintaining a high level of craftsmanship.
Two years turned into three as Lisa started the ambitious project of setting up Clay College and she also helped arrange a six-month apprenticeship for me with Ken Matsuzaki in Mashiko, Japan. (For more details, see the article ‘From West to East’, in CR293, Sept/Oct 2018.)
I thought working for Lisa was hard work, but I spent weeks with Ken learning how to use a traditional kick wheel and threw the base yunomi cup forms that he would later facet and finish. I was also given a month to create my own Shino and Oribe work, much of which I shipped home and sold, this ultimately funded the equipment I needed to finally set up my own studio.
Since my apprenticeship with Lisa, I have been blogging online and making videos, which has now somehow turned into an audience of more than 3.5 million people across various social media platforms. This acts as my business front and I typically produce work to sell in three large online shop restocks a year.
I am based in High Barnet, London, and make the pots I imagine myself living with and using. My time is increasingly spent creating videos for my YouTube channel that hopefully shed light on how I make pots together with more thorough tutorials on the basics.
For more details visit floriangadsby.com; @floriangadsby
All photography by Layton Thompson