Sam Marks is a second generation potter based in Falmouth (Cornwall). His work has a strong focus on function and form, which informs a simple, yet stunning aesthetic. When designing our new Roastery in Porthleven, we asked Sam to create a bespoke range of vessels for the cafe and the feedback has been incredible.
We caught up with Sam over a coffee last week and spoke about his inspirations, journey through ceramics so far and his plans for the rest of the year.
Instagram - Sam Marks
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHERE YOU’RE BASED NOW.
I am a maker and second generation potter based in Falmouth, Cornwall. I previously studied and trained to be a Product Designer before turning to pottery, but have worked in a few different fields including specialty coffee for around 6 years, so working with Origin feels like a bit of a full circle moment! I left London where I grew up, and moved to Cornwall around two years ago, so that I could be closer to the coast and surrounded by nature, where I enjoy exploring with friends and my dog Senga.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO CERAMICS?
I’ve always been around it, my mum studied ceramics and taught pottery to young kids and adults at a community centre, I attended those classes from a young age. However it wasn’t until I was 30 that I started making pottery with any enthusiasm! It started as a creative outlet to sit alongside my job, I instantly fell in love with the material. I had also found an activity that massively helped me with my ongoing battles with mental health. I took to it fairly easily, and found myself with some commissions, which lead to other jobs and slowly became a business.
WHERE DO YOUR INSPIRATIONS COME FROM?
Mostly I am inspired by nature and environmental elements of the coastline as well as the aesthetics of Korean and Japanese pottery. I had a small obsession with pebbles collected on beaches from a young age, fascinated by their textures, shapes and colours. I extract the colours and sensations, and attempt to capture them in the pieces that I create. I often want to evoke the sensation of holding a pebble in your hands that has been warmed by the days sun.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
My work has a strong focus on function and form, which informs a simple aesthetic. I work with creative freedom, appreciative of traditional techniques, but not tied to them.While most work sits in the area of functional pottery, predominantly tableware, I enjoy the freedom to create Original artworks. These are designed purely to stimulate the senses and arouse curiosity, and are sometimes forms which challenge perceptions and the viewers understanding of traditional ceramics
WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FOR THIS PARTICULAR LOOK AND STYLE?
Primarily the range comes from a place of functionality. We looked at the shapes that felt comfortable and appropriate for the intended drinks, ensuring the cup would hold the correct volume of liquid etc. The finish of the vessels strongly convey an earthy and natural feel, and one that lends to the fact Origin are a Cornish coffee roaster based in Porthleven, so using some colour and texture inspiration from the surrounding coast seemed a no brainer!
WHAT CLAY WAS USED, AND WHERE DO YOU SOURCE IT FROM?
Each cup is made from a different blend of clays, using stoneware and earthenware bodies. I blend all of the clays by hand in order to achieve the range of colours, which are left unglazed on the exterior surfac
HOW LONG DOES THE PROCESS TAKE?
This is one of those questions that’s complicated to answer, as there are so many small jobs that get done over a period of time. Making the pieces on the wheel might only take a few days, but there is a lot of preparation before getting around to the making aspect, and then they have to dry out for a couple of weeks, before their first trip into the kiln, and then being glazed and fired again. In most cases a batch of cups will take around 4-6 weeks from start to finish
WHAT PLANS HAVE YOU GOT THE FUTURE?
Well first and foremost, taking advantage of having some more freedom after what has been quite a year or so! Studio wise, I am working on some exciting projects for some up and coming shows with galleries, and continuing to supply and develop my functional ceramics. I will also be running a few more workshops from my studio now that its safe to do so. I’m also on the look out for more studio space, so that I can expand the studio and allow access to other pottery enthusiasts…watch this space!