in the studio with hayden youlley
Hayden Youlley designs and produces handmade, functional homewares from his studio in Marrickville, Sydney. He has been working full time on Hayden Youlley Design for almost 7 years and continues to design and make his full range. Starting out with a weekly market, his work is now stocked Australia-wide. We stock his classic white paper series which has products ranging from coffee cups to plates, serving bowls to keep cups, ramekins to vases. We recently asked Hayden a few questions to shine some light on his process and design ethos.
Photo courtesy of Joshua Morris
How do you describe yourself?
I’m a professional ceramicist, enthusiastic surfer, amateur foodie and part time adventurer.
Why/how did you start making pots?
I’ve always been passionate about design and craftsmanship, but I didn’t find ceramics until I enrolled in a Bachelor of Design at the College Of Fine Art (COFA) at the University of New South Wales. Things really clicked for me as a designer when I found ceramics during my second year. I felt that in ceramics I had found a creative outlet that allowed me to express myself fully.
Describe your process
My day usually starts with opening a clean, fresh bucket of clay. Most of my day-to-day work in the studio involves making ceramic pieces using a technique called slip-casting. Slip-casting is used for the accurate reproduction of ceramic work, and especially for shapes not easily made on a pottery wheel. It works by pouring liquid clay into a plaster mould, and the plaster then absorbs the liquid leaving a hardened clay shell around the interior of the mould. The shell is then left overnight, and removed from the mould. To make my pieces, I then trim, clean, hand-polish and burnish the piece, and stamp it with my logo. The piece is left to dry and then fired in the kiln, hand-painted with glaze, and fired for a second time in the kiln.
What is your favourite pot and why?
My favourite piece is my first prototype cup of the Paper Series. I still have it sitting on my desk in my studio. It is tiny, not well finished and the paper detail is so faint it is almost unnoticeable, but it showed so much potential that I instantly knew I wouldn't be able to stop working on capturing the crushed paper detail until I had realised this idea fully – and I think that’s when I knew I’d had an idea that could form the basis for my first collection and make Hayden Youlley Design a real possibility.
What is something surprising about making pots?
The most surprising part of making pots is in the act of crafting by hand every day, which gives me a satisfaction that I have never experienced in any other job. It gives me a feeling that I am somehow fulfilling my intended purpose, and that who I am as an individual and what I am doing with my life are aligned. Knowing that objects I designed and created have in a small way made someone else's life a bit more fun is very satisfying. That and opening a kiln after glaze firing. The weirdest surprises await you when opening the kiln door to a fresh glaze firing.