Interview: Victoria Baker on Pottery, Male-Dominated Disciplines, and Going It Alone

12:00 pm


And now for something different! Victoria Baker is a potter, creating rustic, simple tableware in her home studio. We had a little chat today about working in a traditionally male-dominated medium, and how social media impacts selling your wares. I love all of her progress photos; seeing the steps to creating such wonderful items is always a bonus!

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Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Victoria! First of all, for any readers who don’t know your background, can tell me a little bit about yourself and where you are today?

Victoria Baker:
So I consider myself to be a third generation potter. My dad's teacher was Ron Mottram and my dad taught me. I mostly make tableware and other household objects. I didn't study making pots at university, but I started a small business doing it and this year will be my ninth year. Ah, that's longer than I realised!

Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your pottery in three words, what would they be?

Victoria Baker:
Tactile, rustic, cute!


Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into pottery and when did you first starting selling your art online? Did you have to overcome any self-confidence barriers in order to get to that place?

Victoria Baker:
I got into making pots not too long after I left university. It might be surprising to some people to know that I'm actually not a very confident person at all. I used to be worse and I've just learnt strategies to cope with it. Some people are naturally talented at dealing with others, but I have to really work at it everyday. Sometimes I just don't want to talk to anyone at all. I've found selling on the internet works for me because I can deal with people by email when I'm ready for it and if I don't I can leave it for a while.

Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female and non-binary artists and their work. Which female and non-binary artists, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look at when you need a spark of inspiration?

Victoria Baker:
Pottery is a discipline that's historically been dominated by men. At one point it wasn't deemed an acceptable job for women to make pots - just to design them and paint them. I've got a really old pottery magazine which has a headline 'The potter is a woman!' Pottery, I think, attracts women who are opinionated oddballs somehow and it comes out in their work. I actually really like Lucie Rie's work. I've always been attracted to really strong simplistic forms and geometric shapes.


Magic & Musings:
Of all of your designs, which are you the happiest with and why?

Victoria Baker:
I make a variety of one-off items and standard ware. Occasionally the stars align and I make something that's just higher quality than expected. I made some ramen bowls lately I was pleased with. In standard ware I do enjoy making plates even though they're quite big objects when you get a set that stack together really well it's satisfying.

Magic & Musings:
This is a question I like to ask purely because of the variety of answers I get! I’m really interested in how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album of music you listen to? 

Victoria Baker:
I spend most of my time in the studio which is in the basement of our house. I find what I need on any given day depends on what I'm doing. I have a creative job, but I schedule tasks depending on the day of the week. This is mainly because customers tend to ask about the progress of their orders and it makes it easier to give suggested delivery dates. 

I always try to have breakfast and tea every morning before work since lunch can be anywhere between 1-2pm, some days even later depending on how busy I am. I can't function without tea. Many many cups of tea of all kinds; chai and hojicha are my favourites. Some days are longer and more physically demanding than others; on the days I need to be pumped up I listen to a lot of KPop and JPop. If I'm doing a lot of delicate jobs that require intense concentration I listen to Classic FM.


Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Victoria Baker:
Stop working. I tend to get entrenched in work and very focused. At certain times of the year I can be a workaholic. It's hard, but you need to step away from working sometimes and just do something, anything else that isn't making pots.

Magic & Musings:
Have you ever explored working in another medium?

Victoria Baker:
I've thrown pots in different types of clay, but I don't enjoy working with earthenware or porcelain. Stoneware is a kind of middle ground which for me is ideal for the types of pots I make. It's easy to throw, not too hard on the hands, and a tough, durable material for everyday use.

Magic & Musings:
What would you say your relationship is like between your business and the internet/social media? Would you say this has helped you greatly in your success, or not?

Victoria Baker:
Social media is super important. I do think it helps that customers can get directly in touch. It's the photos they send in that really help, and it's quite satisfying to see your work in someone else's home. Sometimes it feels like you're not talking to anyone in particular, but social media and blogging just gets information about you and your work out there for people to find if they want it.


Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field?

Victoria Baker:
You have to decide what direction you want your business to expand into. Sometimes it's hard making decisions. You fight with yourself and your own personality all the time. It's inevitable that there'll always be some things you'll be bad at and its hard to avoid feeling like every decision is a major risk. You've got to roll with it and not get too stressed out. It's hard to go it alone sometimes.

Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song? 

Victoria Baker:
I don't really get the time to read many books these days. I usually read textbooks for learning Japanese, or books for work rather than for pleasure. I'd highly recommend Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway though, it's a self help book, but it's actually good. I watched Your Name recently. I watch a lot of anime and Japanese TV. It's a great film, but watch it with a box of tissues! At the moment I can't stop listening to Arrival by Got7; it's on heavy rotation. Once I get to the end I can't help but listen to it all over again.


Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work? 

Victoria Baker:
You can find out more about my work on littlewrenpottery.co.uk, you'll find lots of links over there for social media and Etsy, so I won't list any more here. Thanks for wanting to interview me!

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