emma alington handmade ceramics combine form with function

Emma Alington handmade ceramics combine form with function

Homegirl London pays homage to Emma Alington.  Emma makes a range of handmade ceramics consisting of tableware and decorative objects for home.  Her work is contemporary, quirky and elegant with the heritage of craftsmanship at the heart of each design.  Alington’s current collection is called ‘With A Twist’ which has been inspired by the silhouettes of cocktail glasses and decorated using an innovative bubble blowing technique.  Her pieces combine form with more than one function for longevity.  Her mission is simple – to create uniquely beautiful, high quality products with a purpose.  If you’re looking for ceramic gifts look no further because Emma can make you a bespoke piece. I caught up with Emma Alington to find out more.

emma alington heritage collection

Heritage Collection
Made exclusively for Story, a small independent shop in Bray

Meet Emma Alington

Emma graduated last summer from Central Saint Martins in London from the Ceramic Design degree course.  She tells me – “My three years there undoubtedly gave me the drive to get to where I am now.  Being part of such a creatively hungry network was an incredibly challenging but encouraging experience.”

emma alington

Emma Alington

Starting her own business was always in her mind.  Emma explains – “It has always been my dream to design my own products with my name on the back, which was ‘my one day plan’.  It was really only after the success following my degree show that I had a realisation that my ‘one day plan’ could become a reality.  I went all guns blazing to try and make it happen and so far it’s been so good.  Seeing how my business has grown in this first year is enormously rewarding. It’s very easy to focus just on the challenging parts of running your own business but also acknowledging the positives helps keep me motivated and optimistic.”

emma alignton collect and combine bowls

Collect and Combine Bowls
Order a bespoke bowl with names, initials or commemorative dates

Emma is based in Maidenhead, in Berkshire.  She tells me – “I moved back here, from London, after graduating mainly because I had the space and resources that enabled me to start my business.  I converted an old scout hut at the very back of my garden into my studio.  I’m lucky to have this space – as this would have been a lot more costly to source and set up whilst still living in London.  I can’t wait to be able to expand, but in these early days of running my business, I’m a ‘one woman band’ which at times can be challenging!”

Emma Alington Collection

Emma talks me through her style – “It’s contemporary, quirky and elegant; I try to keep the heritage of craftsmanship at the heart of each design.  Integrity is something I hope feeds into all that I create.  I make a range of handcrafted ceramic products for the home and for the table.  My mission is simple – to create uniquely beautiful, high quality products with a purpose.  Everything I make is handcrafted, authentic and always has a story.”

emma alington small boxes

Good Things, Small Boxes
Add value to everyday objects with these made to order porcelain boxes

The new collection is called ‘With a Twist,’ it’s her second range but most significant so far.  Emma reveals – “I began designing this collection earlier this year and it’s been great fun to develop.  Inspired by the silhouettes of cocktail glasses, the collection consists of five pieces – each one named after a glass: The Collins, The Martini, The Shot, The Coupe and The Brandy.  I wanted each shape to have more than one function, something that could be used in any room in the home, which I hope this adds longevity to the designs.”

emma alington with a twist collection

With A Twist Collection

Emma reveals how these pieces were made – “Everything in this collection is hand thrown on the potter’s wheel in porcelain.  I let each piece dry completely before applying the bubbles, a mixture of water, black underglaze and fairy liquid.  I use a straw to blow black foam in which I then carefully rotate each piece.  This innovative process means each piece is completely unique but in a controlled process.  Bubble printing is something people may have experienced at school so this decoration has a sense of fond nostalgia.”

emma alington with a twist

With A Twist Collection

For the final stages, Emma tells me –“Each piece is bisque fired; I glaze the insides, stamp the bases with a logo and then finish with a high glaze firing.  Keeping the outsides unglazed, I sand and polish each of these surfaces to give a velvety and tactile finish.  Though this collection only launched recently, I’m now itching to experiment with scale and colour.  I think the bubble pattern could be the starting point for many more of my designs or collections to come.”

emma alington the collins pot

The Collins

Hand making her products is very important to Emma.  She tells me – I am hugely process driven and tradition feeds into a lot of how I create things.  I throw (throw is the term used to mean making a pot) all of my work on the potter’s wheel in porcelain.  Throwing a pot is an ancient process with a lot of heritage attached to it.  I love being able to use this technique whilst designing a collection with a modern aesthetics.”

emma alington the martini

The Martini

Surface design then comes into play which gives Emma’s pieces a personality.  Emma explains – “The techniques I use to decorate my work are hugely important to me; being innovative, fun and pushing the boundaries is what I strive for.  A lot of my ideas for surface design are a result of my curiosity.  I try and think of what people aren’t familiar with, or something they are familiar with but in a different context, then see how I can work it into ceramics.  I like to challenge people’s assumptions.”

emma alington the collins

The Collins

Creative stimulation is drawn from her surroundings.  Emma tells me – “Objects, patterns or places that inspire me are also things I like or enjoy and are things I want other people to relate to.”  Browsing her favourite stores also gives Emma food for thought, she reveals – “I can spend hours in places such as Liberty’s, The Conran Shop, Anthropologie and Designers Guild.  It’s when you can both see and feel a brands integrity and dedication to design in all that they do; from the products, to packaging, to visual merchandising.  I tend to look up to those designer makers who have started small and stuck with their integrity whilst growing their brand, product range and workforce like Billy Lloyd and Kaoru Parry.”

Buy Emma Alington Products

If you visit Emma’s website you’ll see her list of stockists www.emmaalington.co.uk.  The With A Twist ranges are priced from £39.00-92.00.  Emma also undertakes private and public commissions which have ranged from making bespoke tableware for a restaurant to bespoke wedding gifts.  If you’d like her bespoke service starting prices usually start at around £80 and you can contact her via the website.

Author: Homegirl London.  Photographs and Thanks: Emma Alington.