Teija Women Issue 1 - Rebecca Proctor
Teija Women is a new regular feature, bringing you interviews with the creative women who inspire us. We look at how they wear their favourite Teija pieces and how they weave style into their creative practice.
First up is potter Rebecca Proctor.
What inspired you to start your business?
I worked as a trend consultant in London before moving to Cornwall 15 years ago. When I moved here I started making pottery as a hobby and the truth is I became completely obsessed with it. That hobby has gradually morphed into a business, but I already had a lot of experience of looking at and thinking about design. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to make functional pieces that are simple, stripped back and elegant.
Over the years I have been fortunate to work with lots of great restaurants, making their handmade tableware. Collaborating with chefs gives me a new insight into what they are looking for (it’s often very different to what we would have in the home) and it is also an incredible way to perfect throwing skills as there is so much repetition involved, you can’t help but improve.
I also supply retailers including Toast and sell directly through my website. I try to update my online shop every month, as it gives me a window to experiment with small batches and unique pieces.
What has been your biggest win so far?
My first collection at Toast five years ago was a small series of wood fired pieces made in an anagama kiln. This style of pottery is very unique - it is a traditional Japanese style of firing where the kiln is fired for at least five days, and the glazes are created from natural fly ash. It is the kind of thing that mostly only pottery aficionados are into so I was very excited to bring it to the high street. I believe that for craft to stay alive we need to educate people about it and make it popular. When I work with this traditional technique I always try to bring a modern spirit.
And what about the challenges?
Well, probably exactly what I mentioned above. Sometimes when you are trying to modernise traditional craft people don’t like it, but I try to ignore any negativity. The other very real problem with pottery is the amount of equipment and space that is required. I quickly outgrew my garden studio. Now I have a lovely studio nearby but for wood firing especially, I dream of a field in the woods, with no neighbours.
What does style mean to you?
I guess I think about style as the way things go together. Often I think style is about having the confidence to leave things out. To focus on shape and the materials. I like to think good style is timeless and personally I like a mix of old and new in pretty much everything. I’m quite eclectic in my taste but I like each item to be well made in themselves.
What part does style play in your business and for you as a founder?
I try to find beauty in all everyday objects - whether that’s clothing or furniture or ceramics. I need beauty around me, but I also like to be a little bit unexpected. Because beauty by itself can get a bit boring so sometimes I like throwing something else in to just shake it up a bit.
What is your favourite piece from the Teija Hendra collection and why?
The XANTHIA blouses in both the striped cotton and silk. I love the puff sleeves and pin tucks, and the sleeves are the perfect length for pottery!
Interview by Katy Lassen