August 2018- ongoing: Ich arbeite im Atelier Alles im Griff in Nippes und gebe dort Töpferunterricht
May 2017- ongoing: Self employed potter at Isabella Bilstein Ceramics
February 7th-July 30th 2017: Pottery Assistent Tythegsten Pottery (Joanna Howells), Bridgend
July 1st 2016-December 18th 2016: Pottery Assisstant at Bridge Pottery (Mickie Schloessingk), Gower
September 2013-June 2016: Cardiff School of Art and Design, Cardiff Metropolitan University: First Class Honours Degree
September 2011-May 2013: FETAC level 6 in Professional Practice for Art, Craft and Design and exhibition organization at Grennan Mill Craft School, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
Ich heiße Isabella Bilstein und bin Töpferin.
Ich habe lange Zeit im Ausland gelebt- in Irland und in Wales- und bin vor Kurzem wieder nach Köln gekommen. Deshalb ist diese Website halb auf Englisch und halb auf Deutsch, aber ich arbeite daran alles zu übersetzen 😉
Mein Atelier heißt “Alles im Griff” und ist in Nippes in der Eichstraße 6.
Dort mache ich meine eigenen Arbeiten und gebe Töpferkurse. Ich würde mich sehr freuen wenn Ihr Mal vorbeikommen würdet.
Ich bin immer von Montags-Mittwochs von 10.30-17.30 Uhr dort.
Töpferkurse finden von 18.00-20.30 Uhr statt, dann ist das Atelier auch offen, aber meine ganze Aufmerksamkeit gehört den Kursteilnehmern.
My name is Isabella Bilstein and I grew up close to Cologne in the West of Germany.
After finishing school I moved Ireland. I studied Art, Craft and Design at Grennan Mill Craft School in Thomastown. There I got to work with clay for the first time and immediately knew that I wanted to devote a lot of time to working with this material.
In 2014 I moved to Wales to study Ceramics at Cardiff School of Art and Design. I felt drawn to the wheel, constantly striving to improve my skills in thowing pots. Since graduating I worked at Bridge Pottery for Micki Schloessingk and at Tythegston Pottery for Joanna Howells. I have recently returned to Cardiff. Now I share a studio with 8 other makers of different disciplines in CSAD’s Inc Space.
What I do
I make functional wheel thrown ceramics, that I sell at markets, in craft shops or in the form of commissions. For commercial wares such as crockery for cafe’s I use stone ware bodies, because they are very strong and hard wearing. I also have a line of traditional lower fired slip ware. It is lovingly decorated and especially designed for the use at home. The domestic range includes everything from kitchen ware over lampshades to vases.
Why I do it
My aim is to enrich the everyday in people’s life’s, such as drinking a cup of coffee. The handmade cup draws a connection between the person who uses it and the maker and furthermore the natural resources that were implemented in the making of the piece. Emotional value is attached to these objects. That can lead to an appreciation of theirs, that transcends the constant demand of consumerism to buy and replace things.
How I do it
Red clay is my medium of choice and I use a traditional momentum kick wheel. Working with this age old machine, all the energy needed to shape the clay is generated from my body, which gives the finished pots lively vibrancy and a more personal touch.
I enjoy techniques of working that have not changed in centuries, allowing me to interact with the elements earth, water, fire and air with the smallest amount of technology involved. Although I am temporarily forced to use an electric kiln, I favour a wood fired model.
The design of the pieces is of great importance for me and I spend a considerable amount of time drawing before I start making the physical pots. I use an iterative design process whereby I start with a simple form and draw multiple variations. I pick the shapes I like the most to take forward and finalise. On the wheel these 2D forms come to life and turn into physical objects. The process of throwing those forms can be likened to drawing in 3D.
In functional pots the form takes precedence over the decoration, as the focus is on practicality. Other pots, such as large platters, whose function also lies in their decorative nature, are designed especially to act as a canvas. I decorate my work with slips and enjoy handling the clay at it’s leather hard stage. In my decoration I aim for free, abstract compositions that are often inspired by the art of the German Expressionists.
The pots are fired once, to save time, money and resources. My enjoyment of working with slips was born out of my experience working with the salt kiln where slips, which are applied to the leather hard pot, turn into glazes during the single firing.
During my time on the Gower at Micki Schloessingk’s Bridge Pottery and in Baden WÃ¼rtemberg (Germany) with Susanne Lukacs-Ringel, I fired my pots in a wood fired salt kiln to stoneware temperatures. This year I will help Clive Bowen fire his bottle kiln, to learn about the particulars of firing earthenware pots with wood.
Wood firing allows the potter to be more involved within the process of turning the clay into ceramic, although the outcome is less controllable. The potter is in collaboration with the elements and enables the flames to keep burning by feeding them with wood, yet they leave their mark on the pots without human interference.
Although my focus is on the creation of functional pieces I believe that the meaningfulness of making exceeds the physical outcome of the process. To interact with our natural environment in a constructive and transformative way is an important tool for self expression and essential for our well being.