The very act of preparing and serving tea encourages conversation. The little spaces in time created by teatime rituals call out to be filled with conversation. Even the tea itself–warm and comforting-inspires a feeling of relaxation and trust that fosters shared confidences.”
Emilie Barnes, If Teacups Could Talk
A cup of tea – that age-old remedy for all that ails us; sparking a million conversations over our lifetime and signalling a time for us to sit, reflect and rest – will always infuse us with a feeling of warmth and well-being.
The ‘comfort in a china cup’ has a universal reach and while having a brew is mostly loved here and in Asia, the rest of the world is slowly catching on to – and a glimpse of – the delights a cup of cha can bring.
Artist and ceramicist Jud Pollock loves ‘tea time’ so much she decided to make a career out of it and the products that have emerged from her imagination and memories are gorgeous little treats that would upstage any cakes on a high tea stand.
In fact she hopes one day to fill these beautiful hand-made works of art in her own tea and coffee shop – but more of that later.
Jud, 39, originally from Northern Ireland, now lives and creates her original tea art on a blueberry farm in deepest Perthshire; living with her beloved dog Albert.
Her work has echoes of vintage chic with a dash of boho opulence and a splash of earthiness. Her tea mugs scream ‘drink from me’; and her Instagram page makes me want to order some for myself. Tea will definitely taste better from these…
‘Oh yes it does,’ laughs Jud, ‘but I’m a bit biased,’ she says.
Jud – pronounced Jude and short for Judith – is inspired by colour, pattern and nature; something that saturates her designs. She loves nothing better than having a cup of tea and a chat – which is in short supply for us all right now – and hopes one day to welcome us all through her doors…
‘My absolute dream is to have a small tea and coffee shop alongside my business,” she says. ‘When I chose the name for my business, I was thinking ahead to when I would actually have that. I thought ‘tea with Jud’ would be great as people drink tea from my mugs and could also come for tea with me.
‘I worked in a coffee shop in Belfast which I absolutely loved. I used to dream of serving something that I made on or in something that I also made. I love the social aspect of hospitality and being able to make someone’s day with a chat, a bun and a cup of tea.’
Jud is currently making mugs for our ‘cup of tea times’ – and they come in all shapes, sizes and colours. ‘I have four different sizes and I think of a mug as something you wrap your hands around when you drink from it, and the shape lends itself to that,” she says.
‘I think cups are more elegant however and I used to make a cup shape but it was not as popular compared to the mug, so I discontinued that last year… and in saying that, since I’ve discontinued it, people keep asking for it! Typical!’
Jud, studied 3Dimensional Design at Manchester Metropolitan University; specialising in Ceramics, and concentrated on Throwing (a pottery technique). The artist has a lovely quirky style; a bun placed trendily on top of her dark head of hair; you can just imagine her dressed in colourful clothes at work in her garden workshop. She’s has creativity etched all over her.
‘I appreciate the beauty of handmade things so much. I get great satisfaction from starting with a ball of clay or ball of wool and turning it into something functional,’ she explains.
Knitting is another creative talent Jud has. The tea cosies are like something from a 1930s crofter’s steading… beautifully crafted in stunning colours. I particularly like the sunshine yellow one.
‘If i’m not making pottery, I will be knitting! I am totally obsessed with knitting. Socks in particular and I’m currently working on an Icelandic jumper.
‘I also love wild swimming. I do that all year round but the loch has been frozen for the past three weeks so that is making it pretty tricky at the minute! I love baking too (and I’m deciding what recipes to use in my future tea and coffee shop!)
‘Having a business (and a dog) is a lot of responsibility so I don’t get to travel as much as I used to but I do like going on adventures to the mountains and to the sea when I can. I like going to gigs and festivals too. I’m looking forward to everything being rescheduled, probably next year!’
When Jud’s not drinking tea, baking, knitting or swimming, she’s working hard on her designs, ‘a mug will take about 40 minutes to make (that includes wedging, throwing, fettling, handling, packing in and out of kilns, sanding and glazing).
‘The over-all process in my workshop will take about three to five weeks, especially in winter as the workshop is cold. I make my work in batches, so depending on what product I’m making I will ‘throw’ between 30 – 60 pieces in one day, then when they are leather hard, I will ‘fettle’ (smooth down), pull and attach their handles.
‘They need to dry fully before going into the kiln for their first firing, called a bisque (1,000 degrees), which takes about two and a half days.
‘They are then sanded down, glazed and go back into the kiln for a glaze firing (1,185 degrees), another couple of days. After glazing, each piece is checked for quality control, and the bottoms are sanded again to ensure there are no sharp bits!
‘Ceramics is all about timing, and working with the clay at the right time, so if the pieces are not dry enough to work with I will wedge and prepare for something else or ‘throw’ another 60 while I wait for the first batch to dry. No time is wasted!
‘At the moment I am experimenting with some new ideas – shapes and colour so I’m really excited to test out some new designs.’
Looking at her designs and hearing Jud’s passion for her craft just makes you want to make a cup of tea. It’s something most of us will have every single day of our lives. So we can all relate to what she’s talking about and personally I can’t wait to visit her tea and coffee shop once it’s finally open to the public.
‘Drinking tea and coffee is an essential part of our daily lives,’ she says, ‘and I just love the thought that I can enhance someone’s day with something so simple. People send me the nicest messages such as… “my experience of your pottery is that it cheers up a dull day. The whole package, shape, colours, clearly carefully and skilfully handmade, a pleasure to use.” Makes my day…