Cara Guthrie Ceramics Studio
A highly skilled ceramicist, born and raised in Scotland, with experience in London, Stockholm, rural Denmark and the Lake District, Cara Guthrie is now based at Cockdurno Farm, Balerno. We visited her studio to capture her throwing the final mugs from our collaboration project and to talk to he about her background and work.
What originally attracted to you to working with pottery?
I was working in London at the time, frustrated by a lack of direct creativity and longing for some respite from computer screens. I'd dabbled with developing film but it didn't feel right. My friend suggested we do a pottery taster class, so we went along with no expectations. She found the class (and our creations!) hilarious. I found a true enduring passion.
What’s your favourite part of the process?
There's something incredibly primitive about pottery — making a form from earth with your bare hands using very basic tools. I know I've done a good day's work when I see my shelves filled, not when the clock hits 5pm. That's very satisfying to me. I am far more interested in creating form than decorating, so my glazes tend to be a subtle finish to each pot. I have spent so many hours throwing form on the wheel yet it never tires — it pushes me to try out new things. Each year, I feel my skills improve which allows me to think of making forms I would have previously not been able to make. I don't think it's a job you can ever truly master. The more I learn and improve, the more it opens up to me with bigger challenges. I'm still very much in my pottery infancy!
What’s the brand values of your style of making?
I'm pushing for a more sustainable practice, exploring use of materials around me and utilising bi-products where I’m able. I try to be as resourceful as possible in my studio, reclaiming clay and minimising waste. Its also really important to me that what I produce is both affordable and practical. Being a production potter allows for this — what I make is intended for everyday use.
What’s your seminal piece of work/the piece that’s challenged you the most?
I mostly produce wholesale runs, which means I am throwing smallish things. Its a real joy to take time out to concentrate on one-off large pieces and experiment with natural materials I've collected. I've been working on some jars in the style and technique of Korean moon jars where two large identical bowls are thrown then attached together. They're a real test of skill! This week, I will attempt two new moon jars — one using clay dug from the field next to my studio, the other containing black volcanic sand I collected in Japan some years back.
What have you enjoyed about working with Kestin?
It's been so good to work with such creative minds on the Kestin collection. It has been a real collaboration in design and a huge boost to see ideas align so easily. Its really nice to work with Scottish based designers.
What do you think modern Scottish design looks like?
I feel there's been a lack of confidence in modern Scottish design. There's such an established idea of what traditional Scottish design looks like — lots of tartan and tweed — but when it comes to thinking about modern Scottish design, there's a tendency to lean on other countries for inspiration. Kestin really exemplifies what confident modern Scottish design looks like — its proudly designed (and much of it made) in Scotland and doesn't need to draw on inspiration from elsewhere. There's such beauty in our landscape and so much creativity and ingenuity here already
You can view more of Cara Guthrie's work at www.caraguthrieceramics.com.