It was while living in New York a decade ago that Parisian Arielle de Gasquet fell into ceramics – “you could say that ceramics found me”.
Looking to make a vase for her ikebana course she was introduced to a ceramics studio filled with members of the Japanese community. With their help and encouragement – “they kindly said I must have been a ceramicist in another life” - she would visit the open studio before going on to complete a diploma on her return to Paris.
Not surprisingly, there is a purity and strong Japanese influence in her work: “I wanted everything pure, simple and white and it has slowly evolved from there. Many say my bowls have a Japanese style which I love, even though I’m typically Parisian and have my own style.”
“Usually I put some clay on the wheel and see what happens and where it wants to go. I don’t know how it will turn out and I quite like it that way. I was taught to knead the clay in a Japanese way called 'kikumomi' which takes the air out of it so there are no bubbles inside. For a bowl it takes around 3 minutes for a 500g weight, but I make pieces up to 5kg although not any larger than that currently.”
“Once you have finished on the wheel you have to let it dry and that depends very much on the weather and the humidity, (in the winter it can take as long as a day or the summer, only a few hours). The next step is trimming and for that the clay needs to be soft enough to handle and yet not too dry. It is fired in the kiln at 980°C which takes about 30 hours and then once you have glazed it, it’s 1280 degrees. I make my own glazes and enjoy doing the research on glazes and colours.”
“I wanted everything pure, simple and white and it has slowly evolved from there. Usually I put some clay on the wheel and see what happens and where it wants to go.”Arielle de Gasquet