Meet the Maker: Hannah Elisabeth Bigley

Thu 16 Nov 2023

Hey! Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do?

I’m Hannah, an illustrator, printmaker and potter (I always say I’m a ‘jack of all trades’ - can’t stick to one thing) from South Lincolnshire. I enjoy anything that creates a mess, which is probably why I was so drawn to printmaking and pottery in the first place!

“I feel like Smaug, the dragon from The Hobbit, when I open up a kiln of gold lustre!”

How long have you been making for?

I started printmaking when I was at university studying illustration - I just loved the hands-on approach to it, and how each print was slightly different to the next. Pottery came later; in around 2018 I started taking pottery classes, and when the pandemic shut everything down decided to use the down time to set up my own studio. It’s definitely been tricky balancing two very full-on processes, and keeping on top of the chaos they both create!

What inspires you and your work?

It depends what I’m working on - for example; for my portrait illustrations I am heavily influenced by the person themselves e.g Florence Welch and her music. With my ceramics I’m influenced by colour palettes I see around me and in nature, I’m very drawn to more earthy-tones. I like my work to have an almost ‘sepia’ tone to it or a nostalgic feel. I think comes from my love for film and polaroid photography and old vinyl, I love the faded-lived-in colours and imperfections they each have.

What is your favourite thing you have made/favourite thing to make?

My favourite thing I’ve ever made would be my illustration of Laura Marling. It’s a piece where everything finally ‘clicked into place’ of what I wanted my work to look like moving forward and has influenced almost everything I’ve made since.

My favourite thing to make currently would be my mountain mugs; there’s several different stages to the process from throwing, trimming, attaching handles, and then finally glazing. Hand painting each one in a slightly different mountain scene is something I’m really enjoying at the moment, it’s really calming and forces me to slow down a bit.

What’s something that you’ve always wanted to make but haven’t got around to doing it yet?

On my to-do list at the moment is to make some big vases - watch this space!

If you weren’t a maker what would you be?

My favourite toy as a child was a post office set, so probably running my own post office. I get to partly live out this dream through my online orders; nothing brings me more joy than the thermal printer and sticking postage labels to packages!

What is your favourite technique to use? Can you tell us a bit about it?

Not so much a technique, but I love using gold lustre. It’s amazing that it paints on as a nondescript purple liquid, and from the heat of the kiln turns into gold. I feel like Smaug, the dragon from The Hobbit, when I open up a kiln of gold lustre! The best part of using lustres however, is definitely having to kit up in safety gear: gloves, mask and goggles. It makes me feel like a scientist when I’m using it!

What is your greatest achievement or favourite memory from your making journey?

During my final year at university I won a D&AD award for a series of Coen Brothers posters; I keep it on my desk to remind myself I am capable (for the days when it goes a little bit wrong and I’m feeling a little bit sorry for myself)!

Your designs are organic and nature inspired in their style, do you take influence from your travels?

My current mountains collection was inspired by a trip to the West Coast of America. At the end of 2019 my partner and I spent two weeks driving around Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. I fell in love with the variety of landscapes and the backdrop of mountains from the highways. Cacti popping up randomly at the side of the road. The landscapes of browns, reds and pinks has definitely influenced my own colour palettes.

A few of your illustrations are music inspired; Florence & Laura Marling….does music boost your creativity?

Definitely! At the moment I’m listening to a lot of Johnny Flynn’s back catalogue, and the Daisy Jones and The Six soundtrack. Some days I do just crave working without any music or background noise, having just the birds chattering away outside.

Hannah Bigley has a range of ceramics & prints available to buy in the shop now!

You can see more of Hannah’s work on her Website.