This is the fifth year of New Makers, our programme designed to support and mentor craftspeople at the beginning of their creative journey. Launched in April 2019, makers from across the globe apply each year, with five chosen finalists receiving business and marketing advice from TOAST, as well as a platform to sell their unique pieces.
Each of our makers for 2023 demonstrates a great appreciation for material and texture in their designs. While varied in their approaches and disciplines, all showed commonalities in tune with our own ethos – that of thoughtfulness, simplicity, and a celebration of age-old techniques.
The final grouping brings together ceramicists Hiroko Aono-Billson and Jynsym Ong, weavers Estelle Bourdet and Poppy Fuller Abbott, and woodworker Ewan Craig.
Meet our 2023 New Makers
“In Japanese, ‘teineini’ means ‘everything considered’. I approach my work with this in mind – it takes time to make every piece with care and attention.”
Norwich-based ceramicist Hiroko Aono-Billson’s work is inspired by her mother’s collection of functional Japanese ceramics and the Mingei movement. Meaning “art of the people”, the movement was developed in 1920s Japan and focuses on the overlooked beauty of practical craft objects used in daily life.
Hiroko first discovered her love for pottery on a short course before she studied textiles, and has concentrated on the medium since 2019. She has recently moved to a larger studio space, which has allowed her to create significant pieces such as large round vases.
Her ceramics are made from terracotta clay and she uses the sgraffito technique – where a slip or glaze is applied, then scratched off to reveal the layer beneath – to create unique patterns.
“By following the rhythms of the different stages of weaving and having respect for the materials I use, I allow myself to discover and learn more about them.”
Originally from the Swiss Alps and now living in Kalmar, Sweden, Estelle Bourdet creates handwoven textiles by using hand-dyed yarns and repurposing fabrics. Her woven wall hangings, rugs and bags incorporate unconventional materials such as climbing rope for a heightened sense of tactility.
She often sources the rope from local gyms, when it has been discarded. It brings a chunky tactility to her pieces, juxtaposed by the other finer yarns she incorporates into her colourful patterned weavings.
Estelle experimented with techniques, colours and compositions during her studies at the École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne, The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and the Swedish school for craft and design, Capellagården. Her work brings traditional rag rug making techniques, tracing back to 18th-century Sweden, into new contexts.
“The process of making is just one aspect of creating. I see art as a way of making beauty out of the values we wish to protect and visualise.”
Having recently studied historical carving at the City and Guilds of London Art School, St. Albans-based woodworker Ewan Craig creates hand-carved spoons, bowls and juicers. Designed to bring a resonance to everyday rituals, the sculptural and functional pieces are crafted from green wood he sources locally in Hertfordshire.
He considers the setting in which the piece will be used to inform the design, finding beauty in subtleties of form. The objects are intended to be just as beautiful to behold on the shelf as they are in use.
The mastery of carving Ewan developed from creating large public sculptures during his studies has been translated to a much smaller scale, enabling him to create serene domestic objects.
Poppy Fuller Abbott
“Working with nature is very humbling as you have to be patient. This makes processes like natural dyeing feel very ancient and important to preserve.”
Brighton-based weaver Poppy Fuller Abbott creates textile works such as wall hangings and placemats using natural yarns and dyes. She often sources locally grown plants from her mother’s allotment and makes them into nuanced dyes, each creating natural variations when applied to fibres.
She dyes her hemp paper yarns using resist and dip-dyeing techniques, before weaving them in intricate patterned fabrics. The dipped, coloured ends of the thread highlight the weave structure, while negative space is explored by the undyed sections, building on the work she developed while studying Textile Design at Central Saint Martins.
The intricacy of the weaving patterns are juxtaposed by the long fringed ends, which bring a sense of tactility and a loose, improvisational quality to the pieces.
“Nothing about pottery can be hasty; it is a potter's maxim that to rush something is to ruin it.”
Jynsym Ong set up her own pottery studio in Oxford after returning from a ceramics apprenticeship in Japan.
With an interest in textures and patterns found in nature, she creates a range of useful pieces from teapots, cups and vases to pestle and mortar sets. Each piece has a serene quality due to the combination of gently rounded forms and soft glaze tones.
After studying English at King's College London, she took evening pottery classes before enrolling at Clay College in Stoke-on-Trent. Since, she has focused on taking the time to hand-process her own materials, allowing unique textures and patterns to shine through.
Photographs by Suzie Howell.
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