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Joan and Jack Hardie

Joan and Jack Hardie: printed pots

Joan and Jack Hardie aim to make ceramics that are inspired by natural forms and have a sense of life and movement. 3D printing with clay makes it possible to create ceramic forms that are not achievable by other means. They combine art, craft and technology to explore fascinating new possibilities.

They started making ceramics about 45 years ago, firstly at evening classes, then in a shed in the back garden. Jack was a thrower and Joan did hand building. Ceramics took a back seat to other work until 2001 when Joan decided to become a full time potter, progressing through further education workshops to a professional development diploma for designer-makers. In 2005 she opened an open-studio pottery in Cumbria, making and selling hand-made ceramics and running pottery classes. Meanwhile, Jack had also made a major change of direction by gaining a first class honours degree in Art and Design at London University of the Arts.

When they began to learn about 3D printing in 2014, they imagined the creative possibilities that this might present in clay. There were no commercial 3D printers available to do what they envisaged, so they built a 3D clay printer themselves. It extrudes very thin coils of soft clay, which are pressed down in layers to build their original designs.

Each new idea must be captured and developed as a detailed digital design that is practical to print in soft clay. The printing process uses all their accumulated pottery know-how. Achieving the right consistency of clay is an art in itself. They prepare the clay largely by hand to get a very soft, even consistency with no air.

The new forms and textures Joan and Jack are working with also demand fresh approaches to colouring, glazing and firing to make the forms come alive. They are currently working in both porcelain and stoneware, using body stains and glazes, and firing in a gas kiln under both oxidation and reduction.