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Practical Pieces: A Pottery Revolution

Rachel Unwin-Hatton is one of our favourite illustrators and graphic designers and she has helped us build our brands since the very beginning… So when she told us she was launching handmade pottery side hustle we knew we totally here for it.

Before we get into the pottery, let’s take a moment to talk aesthetics: There’s something about Rachel’s approach to her pieces in general that is hard not to love, and it’s a total reflection of who she is.

It’s quirky, it’s cute, it’s understated. it’s not trying to be anything that it’s not. It’s practical – true to its name. There’s a beautiful simplicity in that.

We chatted to Rachel to find out what the big deal is with pottery and what’s driving the revolution back to ‘home made’, ‘handmade’ and ‘made with love’ products…

Rachel, thanks for chatting with us, it’s so good to see what you’ve been building come together so beautifully. Congratulations on your recent launch!

Thank you! I finally got there in the end. I’m hoping to get back behind the scenes to create more than a store real soon.

Can you start by telling us a little about what you do?

In a super short sentence, I create simple ceramic pieces for everyday use. I’m a huge fan of functional objects that get used often and don’t just sit around gathering dust! All of the pieces are hand-built (so not using a wheel) because I’m pretty useless on the wheel and I actually really enjoy having 100% control with just my hands and a few tools. The slightly slower process is also pretty therapeutic and grounding too.

Interesting… What was it that inspired you to start making pottery? 

After doing a bit of clay making in high school the idea floated around for a while. Then I was given a 6-week ceramic course voucher for Christmas about 3 years ago, which I really enjoyed and kind of kickstarted it – even though I didn’t touch clay for a couple of years after that. It got to a point last year where I felt the need to do something away from my laptop and to also have something that I had all the control over, so I just bit the bullet and bought a membership at ClayMake – a shared ceramic studio. I’ve been going there a few days a week ever since!

You’re a gal of many talents, being an artist and graphic designer, do you think these skills have helped you to launch this new business? 

Being a graphic designer definitely gave me the extra bit of confidence that I could create a brand and business – so creating the logo, website, having experience with creating social media content and super grateful that I’ve got to work on the wonderful Wildbrand business plan documents to look back on! Shucks… Thanks Rach! [Pinky swear we didn’t pay her to say that]! 😉

Being an artist has helped with the creative side for sure, where I’ve now begun a one-off range in using shapes from my paintings and turning them into multi-use objects.

From an artistic and aesthetic point of view, where does your inspiration to make your pieces come from?

Most of my pieces are made with the idea of being as simple and versatile as possible. Versatile in a way that they can fit into most homes/environments. I do love a scroll through Pinterest for inspo to gather certain elements of pieces I like and especially when it comes to different glazes (something that I’m experimenting with in the background). And with what I touched on in the last question, I’ve started using shapes from my old paintings as inspiration to create some special one-offs and that’s been a lot of fun.

What has been the most challenging part of your journey so far?

Most challenging part was to actually START and run with it while avoiding that self doubt monster who likes to pop up sometimes.

Man, do we feel you. Impostor Syndrome is a b*tch! What has been the most rewarding part so far? 

There’s been a lot of rewarding things! Obviously making sales and people being interested is very humbling, but mostly the rewards have been just feeling good internally! Literally just doing this and focusing on trying to make it into something but also just rolling with it and not getting too caught up in success or failures has done wonders for me.

It seems we’re having a renaissance or a revival of sorts right now, with people rediscovering their love of art and crafts. Have you noticed this too?

I think there’s a mixture between people discovering that locally, handmade things are much more rewarding and then trying a few things out themselves. That as well as finding fun things to do that don’t involve a screen. There’s also SO much inspiration out there too! With local boutiques and markets galore showcasing beautifully handmade items, also Pinterest and Instagram filled to the brim it’s hard not to give something a go!

Ooft. Totally. Spending time off the screen is so important, especially if you’re trying to pursue something creative.

Okay, time to get deep… What kind of world do you want to see in the future in terms of how we live, shop and work? 

Wow, tough one… Probably simply and slowly. Not buying things we don’t need, products being quality made and not just pumping out like $10 toasters that break in 6 months (or less) time. Can we bring in a 9 day work fortnight too? Every second Friday off or Monday – your choice! Not because it would just be “cool” but because I reckon it really helps reset, you get an extra day to sort your general life stuff out and actually enjoy yourself because in the end it’s your life and you should probably have a good time!

Now that is something we can get behind! Freedom to live and work on your own terms, yo!

Time for your Fave 5:

This is probably the hardest question of all and therefore I’m renaming ‘Slow 5:’ Hahaha.

  1. Favourite food Pasta

  2. Favourite song At this moment I Feel Like Dancin’ by Aged In Harmony. Such a banger, super uplifting, can’t not have a boogie to it.

  3. Favourite brand I don’t buy often but I really love my few Lois Hazel items and also because their ethical values are on point.

  4. Favourite movie Not great with movies, I usually fall asleep… I really enjoyed Parasite recently!

  5. Favourite book I don’t think I have a favourite! On the lookout for recommendations to change this though 😉

How can we connect with you and buy your beautiful practical pieces? 

You can connect and keep up to date with me through Instagram mostly @practicalpieces – hopefully through my website soon too where I’ll be expanding it and adding more info and bits. At the moment my website is a store only where you can purchase pieces. You can find it at practicalpieces.co 🙂

Pottery in itself seems to be making a revival of late, or perhaps it never really left us. We seem to be headed ‘back to our roots’ with the brands, textures and materials we are seeing across homewares and consumer craft products right now.

It feels as though we are being called to reconnect with some of the important skills we seem to have lost long ago, skills that many of us never learned in the first place – things we had taken for granted until now.

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