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Tea for twit-twoo

From winking owls to strutting peacock designs, ceramicist Hannah Turner just loves to add a bit of humour to the home

Not many undergraduates sell the majority of their creations at their degree show. Graduating from Bristol University, Hannah was an exception to the rule, so it was no wonder she went straight into setting up her business, Hannah Turner Ceramics. Apart from a short break when she had her two children, Hannah's been designing and creating ever since.

Hannah's workshop is conveniently based in the garden of her Bristol home. "It has four different areas," Hannah describes. "The desk/computer area is where I spend the majority of my time. The artwork's all finalised on the computer, so it's not all dull paperwork! Then there's the desk space where I do more creative sketches and the packing area. Finally there's the area where I do all of the mucky stuff like slip-casting the ceramics, which is then sponged and fired in the kiln before the colours are added and glazed." With each piece having to be fired three times, this is no short process.

"I have two sides to the business; the designs that I make myself here in my studio, and then the designs that I get made for me. I see the decorative items that I make as the more 'collectable' side to what I offer. The tableware is now made for me in Sri Lanka. I had an affinity with that country after the Tsunami as my partner did a lot of fund-raising to help after the disaster." The items designed by Hannah but not made directly in her workshop enable her to sell at a much more affordable price and in a variety of outlets from very small galleries to large department stores and chains.

The range has a very identifiable look with her most popular items currently being the owl and the peacock design. The owl range adds some humour to the kitchen with her owl teapots fashioning a comical beak for a spout. "The peacock range is very reminiscent of '50s and '60s designs that are now highly collectable. I love finding vintage pottery at fairs and markets. I like to try to evoke something of that era but with a contemporary twist." Hannah adds.

Hannah's partner has been a great source to bounce ideas off. "He restores old scooters (Vespas and Lambrettas), and has a good eye for colour and pattern placement. All members of my family and friends get to cast a critical eye over new design ideas. It's good to get a spread of feedback, as I make sure I don't just design for myself."

Hannah's two children both also show a keen interest and enjoy helping out where they can. "My son has a good eye for design. I can see him doing something similar in the future, he's already produced designs that he has scanned, Photoshopped and put on t-shirts! My daughter earns some pocket money helping me out with various jobs."

Ever seeking new forms of inspiration, Hannah spends time trawling junk shops and vintage fairs, "I look for all-sorts, I love old textiles, vintage illustrations and Scandinavian design." The next step is venturing into textiles and wallpaper, Hannah reveals. "I've been busy getting samples and experimenting with repeat patterns of my designs, I'm very excited. I'd like to offer something other than ceramics so that my designs can be seen all around the home, not just in the kitchen or on the mantelpiece!" Keep them coming we say!

You can find out more about Hannah Turner Ceramics by visiting www.hannahturner.co.uk