Fiona Newby – Ceramicist

Fiona Newby

Fiona has been playing with clay for 36 years, starting at an evening class with a much loved Aunt, her obsession for the sticky stuff was embedded. After drawing a pregnant life model, whilst at University, she became fascinated with the female form, especially the way the body curves as the new life grows.

Each piece is created, in Fiona’s attic studio in Meltham, using a fabulous white clay, surprisingly the clay is textured, the texture creates strength which is needed in the smoke firing process. Each piece is either coil built or pinched, modelling the clay to create all the various unique forms, these include Earth form, birds, fishes, Angels and Hand Earth Stones.

Burnishing is a polishing process, Fiona spends many hours polishing the surface of her pieces, with each burnish the piece dries a little allowing for a higher sheen, after five or six burnishes the piece has reached an optimum shine and is totally smooth.

After a firing in her electric kiln each piece is wrapped in a foil blanket, this process is called Saggar firing, tucked around the forms are many combustibles: seaweed, banana skins, pink Himalayan rock salt, copper wire, copper carbonate, cobalt oxide, feathers, ferns and surprisingly miracle Gro- the plant fertiliser. 

The final process is where the alchemy happens, the smoke firing….. This happens in an oil drum. The oil drum is stacked with sawdust and wood, the pots enveloped securely in the middle of the drum. When the heat intensifies the combustibles burn, leaving their unique marks on the clays surface. The next day, once cooled the pieces can be unwrapped.

After a wash and a beeswax polish the forms are complete, ready for their journey to your homes.