This month we met ceramicist Stine Dulong, Founder of Skandihus London at her beautiful studio in North London. We found out all about Stine's journey and how she has turned her creative outlet into a business that offers quality ceramics and inspiring workshops.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your business?
I am a ceramic designer and maker based in Hackney, East London, specialising in functional, handmade ceramics. I have been working with clay for about six years, and I count myself lucky that I get to make a living from the thing that I love. My studio is both the hub of production for my own work, but also a class and event space.
I worked in the City of London as a business crime lawyer for years, never quite feeling fulfilled or happy. I often felt like I went into work every day to perform a role that was written for someone else. I always wanted to be an artist but somehow ended up following a different path. Whilst still working as a lawyer, I decided to do various evening courses and one of them was a pottery class. I totally fell in love with the material and never really looked back.
Where did your passion for ceramics come from?
I was drawn to making because it grounded me in a way that I had never experienced before. When I am working with the clay, I am there in the moment and it is almost like a form of meditation for me. My love for ceramics also stems from my childhood in Denmark. My Mum has always loved pottery and every summer when I was a child, she would take me to visit the local potters where our summer house was in the north of Denmark. One of my favourite Danish potters there was Tue Poulsen, and I still have one of his angels on my bedside table which I am sure has protected me since I was a kid.
Where do you draw inspiration from when creating new products?
My designs are a reflection of the journey my life has taken and who I am. The colours that I use are reminiscent of the coastal region of Hellerup, near Copenhagen, where I grew up. I love the sea, it was my life and I spent a lot of my teenage years sailing. The sea influence is reflected in many of the colours that I use - natural whites, sea blues, lagoon, turquoise and deep blue. You can clearly see this in the Wild Wave Platter because I use a mix of two different glazes to reflect the complex and changing colour of the sea from the white crest of the waves to the deep and dark blue seas underneath. The sea off Denmark is a very dark blue, particularly in the autumn and spring.
Today, I spend a lot of my free time in the forest and hiking in different parts of the UK. The British coast has particularly captivated my heart and my love of being outdoors and connecting with the earth is reflected in all my designs. On my plates, I have deliberately left the rims and the underside unglazed, so you can feel the natural graininess of the stoneware clay.
How would you describe your work and aesthetic?
I aim for my work to carry the hallmarks of minimal distraction with maximum functionality and beauty. SkandiHus is all about hand-made, high quality ceramics that are affordable, stylish and relevant to how we live now. I tend to work with light colours and seek to make that understated impact of beautiful utilitarian design. My work has definitely become more colourful than it used to be, and I think this has happened as I have gained more confidence to express myself more freely through my work.
Can you tell us about the events and classes you run in your studio?
We run a range of classes and events at our studio, from taster sessions to private events to twelve-week courses, and we are actually currently in the process of opening a second studio in Clapton in London to accommodate both the increase in demand for classes and to scale up my own production. I love that I can share my passion for clay with others and hope that through running classes and events we both inspire new makers, but also create a happy and safe place for people to come and escape from the pressures and stresses of their busy lives. Some of my students have started calling the studio their "clay sanctuary", and I love to think of it this way.
What advice would you give to someone starting their own creative business?
My advice to anyone wanting to follow my footsteps would be to not forget the business side of things. Money seems to be such a taboo still for artists but it's really important to have open and frank discussions about it. I mean, if you don't make a living from your art, you won't be able to continue making it (unless you're fortunate enough to not have to worry about earning a living). As much as I don't want my making to be dictated by what people want to buy, I also have to be realistic and bear it in mind. Another piece of advice would be to have a clear idea of where you want to be and slowly work towards that. Set realistic goals and don't try to do everything at once as it gets completely overwhelming
and often leads people to give up their dreams.
Finally, don't forget to enjoy every step of the way. It's so easy to only focus on where you want to go and forget to enjoy the here and now, which is actually all we ever have.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
I start most days with a one-hour morning walk in the forest with my dog, Alfie. This has become essential to me and I can tell a significant difference in my "head space" when I haven't been able to do it even just for a couple of days. I think of it as my morning grounding and meditation. We don't start work until 10am and that's a very deliberate choice as I want all of my staff to have a healthy work life balance and time to make their own work outside of work hours. Once I get to the studio, every day is very different. I may be working on commissions, have meetings with clients, develop new work, respond to emails and enquiries, manage my staff, do Payroll, VAT returns, send out quotations, respond to press enquiries, deal with class admin etc etc.
How do you make your clothes work for you and your busy lifestyle ?
I cover them in clay (laughing)
What are your go-to wardrobe staples?
Probably a pair of black jeans and a roll neck top, which I find myself wearing most days at the studio.
If I wasn't running Skandihus... I would be very sad (but hopefully I would be doing something very similar)
My ideal breakfast... is porridge with fresh fruit, nuts, honey and cinnamon.
Words to live by... being busy is a choice.
The best thing about my job... everything about my job.
My day isn't complete until... I meditate in front of my fireplace.
Destination I'd love to visit... Japan.
|Linen Jersey T-shirt >||Printed Utility Dress >||Hooded Linen Jacket >||Linen Trousers >|
|Cropped Wide Leg Jeans >||Cotton Silk V-neck Blouse >|