Harriet Coleridge - France

I became a potter by chance. I was engaged in postgraduate studies in Theology at Bristol when I paid a fortuitous visit to Aldermaston Pottery. Later that year I became apprenticed to Alan Caiger Smith.

He and Edgar Campden taught me to throw, to glaze and to decorate pots in the tin glaze earthenware tradition. This was a revelation for me as I had never touched clay before.  It was a wonderful place to learn and four years later, in 1987, I set up my own studio near Newbury where I continued to make maiolica pots. I was a member of the Oxfordshire Craft Guild and the Guild of Craftsmen of Hampshire and Berkshire and exhibited widely – in Newbury, Henley, Richmond, Farnham, Oxford and Cambridge.

In 1994 I moved, with my husband, to America where we stayed for six years on a farm near the Delaware River. Here I met lots of other potters and we built a wood fired salt kiln in one of the fields. This was another revelation. I loved using stoneware and firing it with wood and salt was very exciting after years of working with a strictly controlled and largely predictable electric kiln. Ever since we built that kiln I have been learning more about making pots – about form, and glaze, and firing. In 1995 I became a founder member of the Covered Bridge Artisans who  had studio tours and exhibitions twice a year... and still do. I exhibited in Stockton, Lambertville, Princeton and Philadelphia.

In 2001 we came back to England and I established a studio in Ewelme,  an historic Oxfordshire village well known for its fifteenth century church and school and its connection with Geoffrey Chaucer.

I am a member of the Oxfordshire Craft Guild and of West Ox Arts and every year the Pottery is open for Oxford Artweeks.

In April 2021, I was accepted as a selected member of the Craft Potters Association.

The Pots

These days I work in stoneware and porcelain. The two clays I most enjoy throwing are a porcelain from Limoges and a lovely blue stoneware from St. Amand in Central France.

I fire four different kilns and it is thanks to the firing process that the finished pots are so different. Pots from each of the kilns can be seen in the Gallery.

1) I have a gas kiln in which I fire pots glazed with celadons, copper reds and carbon trap shinos. The celadons are rather quiet, the reds can be very rich and the carbon trap shinos, at their best, very dramatic.

2) In France I share an anagama kiln, built in 2003 by a French potter, Raphael Meyer. In this kiln the naked porcelain comes out with astonishing surface textures and colours: soft creamy pinks with constellations of gold crystals and swirls of lustre and bronze.

3) In Ewelme I am getting to know the  new kiln that I built with Rob Molyneux in 2009 which is fired with gas and wood. The pots are slipped and soda is introduced at about 1240 degrees C. Pots that go into the kiln looking like dry biscuits come out lustrous and iridescent, infused with the life of the flame.

4) I still use an electric kiln to make a range of coloured stoneware pots for everyday use. They are bright , bold and durable. I also do a certain amount of painting on tin glazed stoneware. Having done highly decorated maiolica for over twenty years I am reluctant to put down the brush for ever. I am happy, therefore, to take orders for inscribed ware to commemorate special occasions such as birthdays, weddings and farewells.

Many of the pots I make are for daily use but I also make ceramic fish, birdbaths, tiled tables, chessboards, bottles and basins.

I am happy to take commissions.