At home with… Clare Gage

Design boutique ceramicist Clare Gage is breathing cool new life into the British tea-drinking tradition with her textile and ceramic fused tableware collection (from £14). Here, the first class graduate talks awards, getting herself out there and what makes her tick.
I struck on the idea… of fusing ceramics and textiles during my final year university project. My brief was to bring unusual qualities into ceramics, so I introduced textiles – my other big passion.
I begin with… fabric that I hand-weave and use to make fabric cups that are then created in porcelain. This instills the weave and stitch effect. I make cups, bowls, vases and coasters.
When I was a little girl… I was always making things. I went to millions of classes outside of school – jewelry making, ceramics and textiles.
My creative flair comes from… my parents. My mum loves textiles and my dad is a potter. He used to take me to his classes.
I’ve already had my first international exhibition… in Barcelona in August after being shortlisted for the International Ceramics Contest.

I’ve recently shown my work at… many galleries across the country, including the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate, Created Gallery in Chesterfield and Design Edge trade fair.
The most exciting thing that’s happened to me so far… is winning the Royal Society of the Arts award. It felt really important. I had to come to London and have a really pressurised interview in front of a panel – it was a bit like Dragon’s Den!
I’m proud to be… a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. At an RSA dinner I was the youngest person there by about forty years…
I love my home… because it’s my first. I live in a one-bed flat in Chesterfield. I arrived to view it on my own and liked it straight away. When my boyfriend arrived I told him I’d already made up my mind and wanted to move in.
The best room in my home is… the living room. It has lovely high ceilings, doors onto the patio and the focal point is a gorgeous fireplace.
I was lucky to find… my studio. My parents’ friends were renovating the outbuildings of their shop and they asked if I would like to have my studio there. It’s five minute’s walk away from my flat and it’s absolutely brilliant!
My best find… was an old Indian rug. The shop owner is an antiques dealer and he’d thrown it into the skip, but the builders rescued it for me. It’s a bit faded and tatty, but that’s ok because I get clay all over it.
My biggest challenge so far… has been starting up after university. I knew it was going to be hard, so I took a Flying Start course for women entrepreneurs.
I wouldn’t be where I am now… without being business-minded. It’s not enough to just be creative and to sit around all day making beautiful things – even though that’s what we all want to do. You need to have organisational skills as well.
It’s important to… get yourself out there. Part of being successful after university is being professional and building up your profile. You need to get out there and learn business skills.
For me, it’s all about… working with materials. I’m not inspired by other designers or artists but by the creative process. My ideas are based around the possibilities of what I could do with materials. I’d say I’m more techniques based. I just love trying out something new to see if it will work.

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