mdby……Nathalie Dérouet

Today we show you Nathalie Dérouet’s work in porcelain, she talks about her beginning, how she discovered ceramics’ world and how she enjoys it. If you have any question to make her, just write us!!

Nathalie, in 2004 you opened up your ceramic workshop, but how did you know you wanted to professionally dedicate to ceramics?
Earth became the basis of my job after many years of artistic research and exploring practices. Clay became my main focus as it allows an amazing creative exploration by the body. The matter of this creation is not only solved by a state of mind but depends on a close body to material relationship. Ceramics make this rapprochement easier.
Choosing ceramics was something intuitive. By letting your unconscious talk over your rationality, the best solution can be found. This creative discipline makes us accept the fact that some answers can only turn up after taking decisions and approaching actions.


Was it hard at the beginning?
Working with ceramics is hard and quite demanding. Of course it has been difficult, although it was necessary to quickly realise that it will be this way forever.
Let’s say that this affirmation is what really matters.
It is a huge technical complexity that requires severe discipline and an accurate work structure which must be reinforced.

Have you ever been discouraged?
Yes, of course. Ceramics are often quite exasperating and even after many years of work, might be disappointing. Nothing is forever successful, paying attention to each work stage is essential.
Here is where my passion is held again…
A constant difficulty that demands attention and perseverance. Each work stage is overcome with effort and ingeniousness. Luck is required as-well. This complexity is a joy to mind.


Being a ceramist often involves loneliness, do you like it? Is it what you expected?
I really like working by myself. The interior and lonely research attracts me. It is what I desired.
However, I am not alone and I relate to different people due to my job. And above all, I work for other people.
It makes a nice balance.

How would you define your work?
Ceramics implies research based on transformation. Being both, literally and figuratively transformed. Shapeless and chaotic matter is beaten, worked on, kneaded, stretched, printed, stamped, cut, dried, cooked, enamelled and baked again at high temperatures until it becomes a fine and beautiful object with shinny colours over our fingers. This huge transformation to a timeless solid object is an infinite source of research, work, reflection and joy.


The pictures of your work are stunning, do you take them?
I was a photographer before ceramist. This is why I pay attention to this medium.
Once I have made a collection or a clay set, I see the pictures inside my head. I know how I want that set to be shown.
I work with a professional photographer, Bernard Galeron. All my pictures have been taken at this studio. We together study the lightning and the points of view.


There is not much colour in your work, it seams you don’t pay attention to it. You sometimes use white matte enamel, stained greyish blue, stained turquoise, blue blackboard, colours which I love. How did you choose them?
In ceramics, the colour issue is complicated because it requires an accurate extensive technical research. Since I started working, I mainly focused on the shape. Clay is by far the most complex material; I needed years of practice to dominate my job.
I have been focused on the shape, leaving colour apart for a while.
It is nonsense being too fast. Besides, clay is interesting due to its whiteness!
The colour issue has recently arisen up and I am looking for the touch.
I have just finished with a light green suit and a greyish-green that show the great value of clay whiteness.
In any case, greenish and blueish colours are my favourite ones. That stained greyish blue, the stained turquoise and the blue blackboard that you love, are quite natural colours. For now, this is what I am looking for. A very natural expression, something easier to be found in nature. A stone or a pebbled shape through time. However, these colours have been used over potter’s clay. Now that I only work with clay, my attitude to colour has changed and the pieces are more bright.


“Dentelles” set is magnificent, have you had any surprises while opening the oven?
“Dentelles” technique is quite singular and complex. It took me a long time and many trial and error tests. I still have some surprises, I do. All the work is based on understanding and anticipating to the bakery transformation. You learn over time by doing, you get used to transformations and movements inside the oven, you get to know how these transformations happen on the clay. It is exiting!


Which is your favourite theme set?
I am currently working on a set for a big Japanese restaurant. A traditional Sushi bar.

What does the symbol marked on your objects mean?
Each one of my pieces has a stamp on it that represents my studio. It is my signature, where the curves are similar to a leaf design.


Are you inspired by a country like Japan?
What is fascinating for me is the Japanese consciousness of unity. In other words, arts and crafts are not separated; there are no hierarchies like the ones found in Europe. Everything is connected and related to spirituality.
Arts and crafts humility integrates manhood into the world as part of a whole, no more and no less.


What is beauty for you?
It is something that excites you and allows you to be in harmony with the world.

Tell us about your regular day at work.
A workday implies many different activities, looking at, mixing, preparing the clay, watching the drying process, baking, preparing the colours, drawing, making tests, modelling, and without forgetting to take a bath!


Do you dedicate some time to press or do you have someone who helps you with it?
Yes, I dedicate quite a long time to taking pictures, making catalogues, updating the website and searching for new clients. It is a part of my job and I like the relationship between general public and images. For these sorts of activities, I also work in collaboration with professional people.

Any advice to someone who is starting with ceramics?
To devote time and be passionate about it.