Hi, I’m Wendy Tournay and I design & make contemporary minimalist ceramic
giftware and interior products from my studio in Birmingham. I combine typically
industrial processes of plaster modelling, mould making & slip-casting and use
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN MAKING AND WHAT GOT YOU INTO
I was first introduced to ceramics at school and immediately loved the material, it
was so versatile to work with and very responsive and immediate. I went on to
study at Bournville College of Art where I specialised in 3D Design. I enjoyed
experimenting in Ceramics with various handbuilding techniques as well as their
wonderful collection of surface treatments. I was encouraged by my tutor to
continue with my interest in Ceramics at Degree level and went onto to study a
Degree in Ceramics with Glass Design.
HOW/WHERE DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR SKILLS?
At university I was introduced to plaster modelling, mould making and slip-casting, this had a huge impact on the work I chose to produce. On graduating I exhibited
at New Designers. Here, my tableware caught the eye of Prinknash Abbey Pottery
and I was offered a full-time position as In-House Designer where I would further
develop my my range as well as other new collections.
Three years later I returned to study in the world renowned 'Potteries' in Stoke on
Trent. I undertook a Masters at Staffordshire University in Ceramic Design for
Production. This was a wonderful opportunity with access to world-class ceramic
equipment and facilities, including work placements at Wedgwood in their Design
department. They provided us with their fine bone china casting slip, which I
immediately was taken with.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
During my Masters Degree we were fortunate to receive lectures and one-to-one
tutorials from influential product designers such as Sir Terence Conran, Robin
Levien, and David Queensberry who were all truly inspirational. Design wise I am inspired by the ethos of Scandinavian Design with it’s functionality, honesty of materials, simplicity and pure clean lines, as well as the aesthetics of minimalist Japanese design.
WHAT’S THE PIECE YOU'RE MOST PROUD OF?
My Hula Teacup and Saucer. I won the Jaguar Product Design award for this when I exhibited it at the Royal Birmingham Society of Arts Gallery. The Teacup & Sauceris a contemporary, assembled piece of multiple components sheared at angles. It plays with the illusion of balance with the off-centre concentric circles running through it enhancing this resulting in a visual delight.
WHAT DOES CRAFT & HANDMADE MEAN TO YOU?
The skill involved in turning raw materials into crafted products by hand means so
much more than buying mass-produced anonymous objects. Behind each piece of work there will have been hours of dedication, consideration and care, with
attention given to every detail, including choosing the finest quality materials to
work with. This approach cannot be compared to products that are made by
machines in a factory. It’s even better when you know the maker who you are
buying from. Having done many craft fairs over the years I have got to know a lot
of designer makers and it’s always good to support fellow independents.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A NEW MAKER STARTING OUT?
Being a successful maker requires lots of hard work, determination and resilience.
You must be authentic, focussed on your goals and love what you do. It is definitely a lifestyle choice as much as a career, you may find you have to take a second job to subsidise making your work. It’s great if things work out and you can spend every day doing what you love and getting paid for it. The personal rewards can be amazing. Seeing your work in shops and galleries and being enjoyed in peoples homes, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE MAGAZINE AND TV SHOW?
For the latest ceramics industry news I read Tableware International. On the
television I enjoy The Great Pottery Throwdown, although I find the time
constraints given for tasks unrealistic as ceramics is a slow process, hence a lot of work on the show failing; cracking/ exploding during firing. Over lockdown I really enjoyed Grayson Perry’s Art club and I am looking forward to the next series.