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The Development of the Nerikomi Range

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The Development of the Nerikomi Range

You might laugh at this. I am constantly worried that I am not going to be able to back up the striped range and I will be a one hit wonder. The nerikomi striped range was a hit as soon as it came out and Mystery Creek Ceramics wouldn't be where it is without it. What I am constantly thinking about now is "can I ever create a product with this kind of popularity again".

What I often talk about when I'm teaching (and have to frequently remind myself of) is that the striped range didn't just pop up out of nowhere one day, it took years and years to develop. I hazard a guess that this range started forming about 5 years ago and when I scroll back on my Instagram the first use of coloured clay appears on Tuesday August 08, 2017—7 years ago!

Lets start at the beginning; the very first pottery image that appears on my Instagram account (scroll back that far, I dare you) is this lovely aerial view of three pots. 

These three pots were posted on Tuesday, August 23, 2016 and I would guess that this was maybe one or two terms into my throwing classes. I didnt take to pottery naturally and it actually took me over a year to learn to throw at a reasonable level. 

Nearly a year later is the first time I used coloured clay (looks like I could center at this point). This was pot black from botpots mixed with PW20, a favourite clay of mine. 

The fun thing about looking back on your development as an artist, is that so many years down the track I now look at these pieces with an ‘ugh’ response, but I clearly remember trying to take this photo (thank goodness I'm no longer doing our product photography) and was so so proud of the work I made. It was absolutely the best thing I had made up until this point and what's great about creative practice—this feeling never changes. It's a love/hate relationship with work I made a long time ago but a beautiful reminder of how far I have come. 

The next step in my coloured clay journey was playing with coloured casting slip. I was very much in a casting slip era at this point. I tried lots of fun things, I learnt so much and the photography marginally improved (please note the marginal). 

Next up is the first time that my work with coloured clay is recognizable as what the range looks like today; these pieces didn't come about until May 2018. Ideas percolate slowly for me, I usually have so many in my mind it can take time for an idea to fight its way to the front of the line. Thank goodness I persevered with this idea. 

Colour is now a massive part of my work. I love colour myself and aim to make vivid work. Here are some more works where I begin to find my way with colour. 

A fast bit of progress is made here as this is August 2018. So many critiques come flying into my brain looking at these works but I am just so glad they existed. Without them I wouldn't have my range now. 

The first stripes appear in November 2018:

I then moved away from the stripes to this more random look. The random look appeared approximately a year later in October 2019.This stayed around for a while and a significant amount of work (for me at the time) was made.

It wasn't until May 2020 that the stripes make their first appearance! 

Redwhat a great colour to start with (yet now our least sold colour?!). 

There was still a lot of messing around and experimenting to follow. 

Blue is my favourite colour - at this point and still currently, although pink is a strong contender.

Between 2020 and 2024 over 15,000 mugs have been made to get to the point where the nerikomi striped range is today. 

One of the biggest ways you can see the development and growth in this range is in the rainbow colour-way

Rainbow in 2020:

The nerikomi range in 2024:

Rainbow in 2024:

I feel like with each batch of colour small improvements are made along the way. These improvements are harder to show in images but development is constant both in the final product and the process. That's what makes it so fun. Also our photography is now done by the amazing Holly Kate photography; she is able to make the work shine in a way that we greatly appreciate. 

Now the ever-expanding nerikomi range comes in over 14 different colours and 35 different functional shapes and is constantly expanding. There is now a coloured clay thrown range as well and more in the works. 

The entire point of this post is for me to personally reflect on my growth as a ceramic artist. I still constantly feel like I am not there yet. There are too many ideas in my mind and I haven't been able to execute even 10% of them. Technical frustration, skill limitations, artistic frustration and external feedback all get to me. This is my reminder to you (and myself) that the creative journey in business is a process. Racing to the endwhatever 'the end' may beis not possible but also not what is going to make the journey worthwhile. As I have moved through this journey from 2016 to the present I have made hundreds of mistakes, hundreds of works that while I was proud of at the time I would happily see smashed now but I continue to move forward. 

Pottery is not instant satisfaction and I am so grateful for that. Students always say to me 'how do I....' and as insanely annoying as it is, my response is "its practice". 

Here's to practice. My practice, your practice moving forward, continuously improving and trying as hard as I can to enjoy all the bumps along the way.