"My happy place"

"My happy place"

Whatever life chucks at her, you will always find potter Jane Bridges in her studio – moulding the clay on the wheel, trying out new glazes and colours and firing her gorgeous pots.  
When I was a mum with young children I realised that I just needed to do something for myself. I’d always enjoyed making things – knitting, gardening, upholstery – so I enrolled on a pottery course at Tunbridge Wells Adult Education Centre and within three weeks I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do. So I took my City and Guilds in Ceramics and Design which was fabulous. And when it finished I went back to Tunbridge Wells and became a pottery technician, and then a tutor – which I did for 30 years. I loved it, absolutely loved it."

“We converted the garage into a studio for me and that’s been perfect. I got my first potters wheel, my first kiln and I was away. Most of my early work was raku firing which is a Japanese technique, including creating a crackle glaze which makes thin fine lines across a pot. I loved doing that but it was such hard work and as smoke is part of the process it’s not very good for your lungs. I don’t know what the neighbours thought of me charging round with a face mask and goggles!"
“Meanwhile I was learning about all the other techniques which I needed for the students I was teaching. And that meant that my work continued to evolve as well. Now I don’t think hard about what I want to do, I just let it come. I’ve always enjoyed experimenting, trying new techniques. I’m definitely addicted to making."

“Colour is a big thing for me. Right now, I’m seriously into all the big orange, reds and acidic yellows and I think that started in lockdown. It was such a sad time for all of us, that it just felt good to throw some colour about. I’ve had to deal with some tough things in her life, but my pottery has always been a place where I can get away from it all. It would have been hard without it. My daughter, who sadly died five years ago, supported me all the time. She’s always with me saying `Go on Mum, you can do it!’

“Pottery is definitely my happy place. Every day I’m in my studio, cup of coffee, radio on, up to my neck in clay. When I plump the clay down on the wheel I know exactly what I’m going to do, what shape I’m going to make.

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