INTERVIEW WITH JOSIANE VÉDRINE
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers? Who you are, where are you from, how long have you been doing ceramics and is it your full-time job?
Ceramics is my second life. After a career in business management, I decided to shake things up a bit. I took a two-year apprenticeship in France to learn ceramics and, shortly after, my family and I moved to Québec where I practiced full-time. That was 14 years ago.
Tell us a bit more about your ceramics background.
As a small girl, I liked watching potters throw at the wheel and I've always thought one day I'd do that too. But it took me a while to get there. I first took recreational classes here and there for a long time. And then one day, I decided that would be my craft. So I enlisted for a full-scale potter formation. My teacher, Patricia Cassonne, is passionate about all things Japan. She specializes in tea ceremony utensils. I already had a strong interest in Japanese culture myself, even before I learned ceramics. And of course, it kept growing. I made a few trips to Japan, booked some workshops and masterclasses there and learned traditional techniques with Tomoko Okuda.
Of course, many other ceramic artists impacted me during my training. Anne Buillot, for example, whose work focuses more on expressive pieces with strong textures.
I like ceramic as raw material the most. Textures, glazes, firings... I like it all.
When did you start making teaware?
For me, the discovery of tea happened in parallel to learning ceramics. Making a teapot is an essential step in a potter's journey. When you get there, I think you naturally get curious about what goes inside... Also, I'd say it's pretty rare to find an interest in Japanese culture, to travel to Japan without liking tea at least a little bit. During a masterclass, we had to explore the infamous chawan archetype. From there, I discovered matcha tea and so on...
What do you like most about your work?
Hard to say, I like every step of the process. Wheel-throwing is a real passion, a unique moment of solitude and tranquillity, almost like meditation with your hands acting on their own. But if I look at ceramics as a whole, what I prefer is simply creating things. To have an idea, refine it, realize it... firing with my wood/gas kiln is also very exciting. And very stressful. You have to slowly let the temperature rise in the chamber, stoke the kiln, reduce, wait 2-3 days for everything to cool down before you can even see the first pieces done. This type of firing requires patience. Patience as well as acceptance that not everything is under your control.
What are you looking to achieve through your work?
My goal is to be able to live solely on my profession as a ceramicist, but not at any cost. I don't want to be mass-producing. Even when I'm producing series of similar pieces, I always make sure each of them presents some degree of uniqueness. I also would like to have enough time to keep developing new shapes, new glazes and new styles. Enough free time to explore new techniques.
How would you best qualify your work?
I don't know, I don't intellectualize my work a whole lot. I do what I want, the way it comes to me.
There's a real sensorial connection with clay. When you have your hands in it, there's a direct contact that's a bit hard to describe. When throwing on the wheel, clay somehow seems to take a life of its own. It flows through your hands, it's almost magical. There are many other materials I find interesting, like glass, which uses light and transparency in a fascinating way. I tried playing with glass a bit in the past, but there's always a tool standing between me and the material. Basketry, weaving... I always come back to clay. I don't think there's a very clear explanation. It is mostly felt I would say.
Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
I often look at other ceramicist's work (mostly japanese artists: Akira Satake, Shozo Michikawa and many others), but most of all, I like to observe nature. I like to take inspiration from textures, rock colours, wood, and so on.
Would you like to add something here? Regarding your work, yourself, or anything else? We'd be happy to read.
I don't remember having talked that much about me before... so I think I have nothing left to say.
Josiane Védrine's collection is now archived.