Earlier this year I did a very exciting product shoot with talented Northern Irish photographer, Esther Irvine and I couldn't be happier with the results. If you follow Rebecca Killen Ceramics on social media you may have noticed Esther's fabulous work.

Esther also came to visit the studio to get a 'behind the scenes' insight into how our bone china products are made beautifully capturing each step of the creative process.

Check out Esther's latest blog post, not only is she is a super talented photographer she also has a beautiful way with words.

Thank you Esther x

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AuthorRebecca Killen

Wow what an incredible competition to be apart of! We are so honoured to have won the regional award for Northern Ireland in the Etsy UK and Ireland annual competition and part of our prize was to exhibit a selection of our work at the London Design Fair at this years' London Design Festival. Check out some pics of an inspiring weekend in London.

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Our Cobalt Bottles exhibited in the Etsy stand alongside fellow Northern Irish designer Katie Brown's silk scarves, Yvonne Ellen's upcycled plates and Ireland's Matt Jones turned bowls.

On the 3rd September we took our third slip casting workshop at Tory Bush Cottages situated at the foothills of the Mourne Mountains. We had a full group with one lovely lady coming all the way from Austria to join in on the Creative Weekend.

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We began the morning session with an introduction to slip casting, explaining and demonstrating the industrial yet creative process that I use to create my work. We then all got to work on our own bottle casting into pre prepared moulds using fine bone china.

While the bottles remained in the moulds for a couple of hours we got started on another technique in which we used plaster and underglaze to create a unique bone china tile.

After a beautifully prepared lunch by Claire we were then able to take our bottles out of the moulds, and after a little cleaning and sponging, apply our own hand painted surface pattern.

Everyone did such an amazing job on their bottles and tiles, the results speak for themselves...

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The bottles and tiles have all been taken away to my studio where they will go through a bisc and glaze firing. The bottles can be used either as a functional flower vase, or milk jug or a lovely piece to remember your weekend at the Mournes!

Our next Creative Weekend in The Mournes is on the 15th October and spaces are filling up fast.

Info:

1 nights accommodation at Tory Bush Cottages
2 workshops (ceramics and print)
Home cooked meals for the duration of your stay
Refreshments during workshop
info@torybush.com
Ph Claire 07866928846 or David 02843724348
or message us at the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CreativeWeekendsMournes/

All of the above for just £185

WOOOOHOOOOO we won the regional award in the 2016 Etsy UK and Ireland Awards and will be representing Northern Ireland in the winners showcase at the London Design Fair at Tent London, 22nd-25th September.

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to vote for the Cobalt Flower Bottles in the People's Choice Award and although it didn't win I am overwhelmed by all support throughout the campaign.

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AuthorRebecca Killen

INFORMATION

The Craft Weekends at Tory Bush consist of two full day workshops, accommodation for two nights, home cooked meals and refreshments and cake during the workshops. £185/person

DATES

24th-26th June - Ceramics and Printmaking

2nd-4th September - Ceramics and Printmaking

*DAY WORKSHOP PACKAGES ALSO AVAILABLE* £45/person

CONTACT

To inquire about taking part in the Tory Bush Craft Weekends, please get in touch. Either contact Rebecca - Click here

Or contact Claire 07866928846 or David 02843724348 from Tory Bush Cottages.

Rebecca has teamed up with Tory Bush Cottages in County Down, to give you the unique opportunity to create your own bone china bottle in the most idyllic setting. Tory Bush Cottages is situated in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains and the views are truly breathtaking, the perfect setting for our slip casting workshops.

The workshops run from 10am - 4pm with breaks for a tasty home cooked lunch and freshly baked scones, cake and tea throughout the day. Rebecca will guide you through the slip casting process, where you will each make your own functional bottle using fine bone china.

The bottles remain in the moulds for a couple of hours, so while we are waiting you will have the opportunity to create a beautiful ceramic tile using a printing technique with under glazes and plaster. Why not use the stunning surroundings as a source of inspiration for your work.

Or use your own art work as a source of inspiration.

Once the bottles are removed from the moulds they are now ready to be decorated using under glazes, this is your chance to really make your bottle unique!

Rebecca will then take your bottles and tiles off to the studio to be fired and glazed and fired again ready to be delivered in a couple of weeks. The bottles can be used either as a functional flower vase, or milk jug or a lovely piece to remember your weekend at the Mournes!

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AuthorRebecca Killen

We are completely over the moon to be shortlisted for the UK and Ireland Etsy Awards. The Etsy Awards celebrate the best of creativity in the UK and Ireland. Entrants have the chance to win up to £10,000 cash prize, product showcase at Tent London during London Design Festival, business support from The Design Trust, retail opportunities with John Lewis and more. With over 3000 entries Rebecca Killen Ceramics has reached the last 60 with the popular Floral Cobalt Bottle but now we need your help.... 

To win the people's choice award of a £10000 bursary (that could transform our small ceramic business) you need to vote and validate if using your email address. Click on link to vote if you like our handmade bone china bottles.

VOTE FOR REBECCA KILLEN CERAMICS

You can now also buy our handmade bottles from the etsy shop, click to check it out and purchase a piece of handcrafted bone china.

The lovely Jane from Culture NI got in touch to chat about my involvement with Tory Bush Cottages craft weekends and what has lead me to a career in ceramic design (making milk bottles for a living).

Making It in the Mournes

Newcastle ceramicist Rebecca Killen on finding commercial success for her signature crafts and showing South Down sightseers how it's done

Spring and summertime in the Mournes. It’s a tantalising prospect, awakening visions of green fields, lush blossom, glorious mountain scenery, all in an area where rural traditions remain an integral part of everyday life.

Nestled into sloping meadowlands, with Slieve Donard and the dense woodlands of Tollymore Forest Park rearing up behind, Tory Bush Cottages are a popular haven with visitors seeking refuge from stress, routine, hustle and bustle.

Over the next few months, proprietor David Maginn will be showcasing South Down's rich artisan history with three creative weekends, comprising accommodation, home cooked food, great views and expert tuition in ceramics, willow weaving and print making. In charge of the three ceramics courses is 29 year-old Newcastle born Rebecca Killen.

Killen is one of a new generation of exciting young Northern Ireland craftworkers who are establishing themselves and their work in the UK and further afield. A graduate in fine and applied art from the University of Ulster, she is achieving international recognition for her attractive range of bone china milk bottles, dishes and vessels, all featuring her trademark white and cobalt blue colour palette.

 

It is one thing for a young artist to aspire to setting up his or her own business and getting the work into commercial outlets, but it is quite another to do it. Killen has been exceptionally strategic and focused in pursuing her goal and achieving the skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace. She is the first to admit that having an artistic talent is just the start.

'During university, I took a year out and did a business-related course at Monmouth College in Illinois,' she says. 'I learned a lot of new skills, like advertising, marketing, international economics. I came back home to finish my degree and, after graduating in 2011, I did an additional course at the art college, developing my work with the support of a studio space. It was a bit like an artist-in-residence programme.

'I always knew that I wanted to continue the making process. I was determined to earn a living out of my ceramics and I was aware that I would have to invest a lot of time and energy to make that happen. When I finished my course, I worked as an art technician at Down High School in Downpatrick, which was my first experience of working with children and taking workshops. I enjoyed it very much and it led to my working with clay in different ways.'

Killen was one of eight craftworkers, all female, who were accepted onto Craft NI’s Making It 2013/2015 programme. Her host organisation was the Southern Regional College in Newry, where she was given her own studio, together with professional mentoring in the practicalities of business start-up.

 

'It was great to get to know the others in the group,' she recalls. 'They were working in ceramics, jewellery design, screen printing, glass and textile design. We were all in the same position and were able to share our problems and issues, as well as doing some projects together.'

The relationship with the college has continued and Killen now teaches there on a part-time basis, while expanding her range and pitching to new outlets. She is in the middle of a hectic period in her life, making plans for her wedding and searching for a studio space in the part of world to which she feels so connected.

'Yes, I have a lot going on at the moment,' she laughs. 'I was recently invited to exhibit at the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate, along with seven other makers from Northern Ireland as part of Craft NI's Export Development Programme. It was a great show for my business, securing orders with new stockists across the UK. I now have five outlets in the north of Ireland and one in a new shop in Kildare Village. Plus I have a dozen or so in England and Wales - and one in Japan.

'The Tory Bush Cottages weekends will be a new challenge for me. Participants will be able to experience the complete process from beginning to end and will make the same things as me. At the end of the weekend, everyone will take away their own bespoke bottle that they will have made and decorated - just the same as mine.

 

'The cottages are right in the middle of the Mournes. It’s a magical place, a really creative environment, where people will be able to switch off and try something new. If I could find a studio around there, I’d be very happy.'

The country traditions of her home patch provided the backdrop to Killen’s earliest exhibited work. For her final year show at the art college, she produced a series of plates based on Downshire Pottery, the oldest pottery in Northern Ireland, which was set up in the 1700s.

They, in turn, prompted her to develop the more commercial range, which is now proving so successful. It is inspired by the nostalgic blue and white china she grew up with at home, as well as by her own love of all things retro.

'I collect old bottles and vintage things,' she explains. 'I remember when we used to get glass milk bottles delivered to the doorstep and those little bottles of milk at school. Their shapes look really great in bone china, especially with different surface patterns that are modern and abstract. The blue and white adds to the sense of nostalgia and reminds me of the past, of growing up in this special place.'

Tory Bush Cottages Creative Weekends will take place on 13 to 15 May; 24 to 26 June; 2 to 4 September. Places are limited. For more information on how to book visit www.torybush.com. To see more of Rebecca's work go to www.rebeccakillenceramics.com.

- See more at: http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/features/crafts/making-it-mournes#sthash.IpSnmoPn.dpuf

Check out this video from our one of our latest stockists Só Collective, a new store featuring purely Irish design based in Kildare Village. Só Collective is described as a 'unique shopping experience and thoughtful curation of both established and emerging Irish designers. Immersing guests in a rich world of imagery, texture and colour, the space forms an integral part of From the Isle, the exciting new initiative at Kildare Village designed to nurture and support Irish creative talent'. This place is STUNNING a real must see!!!

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AuthorRebecca Killen

We were delighted to exhibit for second year at the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate, this time with a group of 8 designer/makers from Northern Ireland as successful participants on Craft NI's Export Development programme. Take a look at some images from the event including a few new additions to the collection. Please keep an eye on the stockist page to find out where to buy Rebecca Killen Ceramics.

Export Profile – The British Craft Trade Fair 2016: Rebecca Killen Ceramics

Export Profile – The British Craft Trade Fair 2016: Rebecca Killen Ceramics

Continuing with our maker interviews ahead of the 2016 British Craft Trade Fair, we're delighted to chat to Rebecca Killen, one of the eight NI makers attending with Craft NI, about her process, her work and her plans for the future.

Hi, Rebecca. Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you get into making?

I am ceramic designer/maker living and working in County Down creating blue and white bone china products for the interiors and gift ware market. I was first introduced to clay by a very passionate teacher and potter at school and have been using the material ever since. Whilst studying Fine and Applied Art at the University of Ulster I specialised in ceramics and also took a year out to study business at a college in America. After graduating I was keen to combine my making and business skills to create a business in which I could produce and sell a contemporary range of ceramics, so I applied for Craft NI’s making it 2013-2015 programme to help me achieve this goal. Having recently completed the programme I am now selling bottles, vessels and dishes in craft galleries and design boutiques across the U.K.

Could you tell us a bit about your making process?

I am currently working with bone china, a beautiful material to use. Its smooth and high quality fine finish provides the elegance and delicacy which I use as a foundation for the hand painted decoration. I use the industrial technique of slip casting which involves casting liquid bone china in plaster moulds that I make from turned models or found objects. The surface pattern is then applied, whether it be a hand painted pattern, ceramic decal or dipped cobalt glaze. Each piece is then finished with hints of gold lustre.

Every day in the studio is different (one of the reasons why I love what I do) but depending on what deadlines are looming, I could be doing anything from making moulds, hand painting the cobalt designs, glazing to packing and shipping the work. I usually cast first thing every morning to build up stock and the rest of the day is consumed by all the other elements involved in making my work. I allow time during the week to work on the business side of Rebecca Killen Ceramics where I am making calls, answering emails and marketing my products – time-consuming activities but a surprisingly enjoyable part of my business. I am also a part time lecturer at the Southern Regional College and help take a variety of workshops at Mount Ida Pottery, so the weeks tend to be very busy. The process of making is the most enjoyable part of what I do. I wouldn’t exactly say it is relaxing, however when you get into a rhythm there is something strangely satisfying about working with such an unpredictable material.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to maintain a healthy lifestyle so I try and get to the gym as often as I can, but after being inside the studio most of the week I love to get outdoors at the weekend. I am lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of the country beside the sea and at the foot of the Mourne Mountains so there is plenty to explore. I am also getting married this year so does planning a wedding count as a hobby?

Where can people currently see or buy your work?

Locally you can find my work in Kiln and Loom and Coppermoon in Belfast, The Kingfisher Craft Gallery, Killyleagh, F.E. McWilliams Gallery, Banbridge and Synergy Studios in Newcastle. My work is also stocked in a range of galleries and design boutiques across the U.K and I have recently sent an order of work to an Irish design shop in Tokyo called Stor. I am excited to be exhibiting some new pieces at the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate this April along with 7 other talented maker/designers from Northern Ireland. You can find us at stand 400.

Where would you like to see your business in a year's time? Do you have any big plans for 2016?

I hope for continued growth of my business, to be fulfilling orders for existing customers but also reaching new markets with my products. I would love to have my work in some larger retailers in the U.K and Ireland this year and also expand on my product list. I am hoping to take part in a couple of major selling events in the U.K and also intend to exhibit at another trade fair (early 2017) to introduce my brand to new audiences.

Find out more about Rebecca Killen, as well as her work and details on where to buy it, on the Craft NI Directory.

We are delighted to be stocking our ceramics in a new exciting project coming soon to Newcastle Co. Down. Synergy Studios, opening this week is a workshop, studio and retail space located at the foot of the Mourne mountains and aims to provide a creative hub for emerging makers, designers and artists. They are hosting a Christmas Pop-Up for the month of December with a festive shopping evening on Friday 4th December

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AuthorRebecca Killen

We have a collection of vessels, t-lights and bottles on display in Adore Contemporary Boutique for their current exhibition 'A Contemporary Christmas'. Adore is based in the beautiful harbour town of Falmouth, Cornwall and showcases the best of British contemporary craft. Their annual Christmas exhibition sees our work exhibited alongside talented designers; Gemma Scully, Katy Luxton, Bryony Stanford and Fleur Grenier. 


Call into Belfast's best kept secret Coppermoon to see a new batch of Rebecca Killen Ceramics on the shelves including these cute Cobalt Milk & Sugar sets. Coppermoon, a beautiful art and design boutique, showcases collections of jewellery, home and gift products to discerning customers worldwide and supports both local and national designers. Coppermoon have been stocking our products for over a year and we are delighted to launch our new Cobalt Milk & Sugar Sets in store. A beautiful piece for the home or a great gift idea!

During August Craft Month 2015, myself and Áine McKenna showcased our current collections at the Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick in the joint exhibition 'History Repeating'. Both local ceramic designer/makers, we were brought together on Craft NI's 'Making It' programme and have worked successfully together on a number of projects.

'Making It' is a 2 year business start-up programme for makers in craft and applied arts in which participants are placed in host organisations. Áine is based at Down Arts Centre and I at the Southern Regional College. As the 2013/15 programme draws to a close the exhibition showcased a body of work that demonstrated the progress made whilst on the programme, and the challenges of creating a commercial product range alongside conceptual ceramic art. 'History Repeating' makes reference to common themes embedded in both our work as we explored the notion of multiples and industrial processes.

Images - Opposite Page Photography

History Repeating - Down Arts Centre

History Repeating - Down Arts Centre

History Repeating - Down Arts Centre

History Repeating - Down Arts Centre

History Repeating - Down Arts Centre

History Repeating - Down Arts Centre

History Repeating - Down Arts Centre

History Repeating - Down Arts Centre

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt Wall Dishes

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt Wall Dishes

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt Wall Dishes

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt Wall Dishes

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt Bottles

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt Bottles

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt Bottles

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt Bottles

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt Milk & Sugar Set

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt Milk & Sugar Set

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt and Willow Vessels

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt and Willow Vessels

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt Vessels

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt Vessels

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt Dishes

Rebecca Killen Ceramics - Cobalt Dishes

Áine McKenna Ceramics

Áine McKenna Ceramics

Áine McKenna Ceramics

Áine McKenna Ceramics

Áine McKenna Ceramics

Áine McKenna Ceramics

Áine McKenna Ceramics

Áine McKenna Ceramics

To accompany the exhibition Áine and I carried out two workshops where we demonstrated the processes involved in each of our practices. Áine presented the process of handbuilding using fine sheets of paper clay creating porcelain envelopes and bags and I demonstrated how I make my bone china bottles, dishes and vessels using the slip casting technique.

We would like to thank all those who have visited our exhibition, the Down Arts Centre, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Southern Regional College, Craft NI and Opposite Page Photography without their support ‘History Repeating’ would not have been possible.

'History Repeating' runs until Saturday 29th August at the Down Arts Centre, 2-6 Irish Street, Downpatrick.

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AuthorRebecca Killen

I have recently become a little bit obsessed with Instagram, after a couple of technical issues (I apologise for my persistent follows) I finally got my @rebeccakillenceramics__ account up and running and I have found so many amazing new artists, designers and inspirations. There are some incredible feeds out there, here are my two favourites (sorry both ceramics, I'm obsessed with that too):

@tortus_copenhagen - Totally incredible images of the most beautiful handmade ceramic wares, a real insight into his studio and really cool videos of him throwing pots. I have to stop myself from liking every single image #number1stalker

@amandadugganceramics - Clearly inspired by surface, her feed is beautifully composed with an obvious translation between everyday textures and her stunning minimalist ceramic work. 

And please feel free to follow @rebeccakillenceramics__ where I share daily images of finished pieces and the processes involved in creating contemporary ceramics

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AuthorRebecca Killen

In April this year I took part in our first trade fair; the renowned British Craft Trade Fair at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate. What a great show - super organised, friendly and busy with lots of buyers from across the U.K

I displayed a range of 'Cobalt Vessels', 'Willow Vessels' and 'Cobalt Bottles' as well as brand new 'Cobalt Dishes'. The collection went down a treat resulting in Rebecca Killen Ceramics now being stocked in design boutiques and galleries all over the U.K.

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AuthorRebecca Killen

The exhibition Reflections, currently on show in the Island Arts Centre, Lisburn, is an impressive mix of ceramics, painting and textiles from a group of artists who have either worked with, studied with or been taught by ceramicists Trevor Woods and Sinead Young.

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  “Everyone and everything that shows up in our lives is a reflection of a creative experience that happens in each of us. When we look back in our lives we can see many different facets reflected in who we are and how we are creative. Being creative is not just an isolated situation but a response to others who influence us as well.”

 I first encountered clay when studying at Down High School, with Trevor’s (my art teacher) infectious passion for ceramics it was unavoidable and I was hooked. Trevor has continued to encourage and support me in my career and it is such a pleasure to exhibit my ceramics alongside his beautiful work.

 Letters from the East

Vessels black, white and blue represent the three stages of the application of cobalt on clay as beautifully depicted in the Letters of Père d’Entrecolles. The French Priest, who was essentially practising industrial espionage, revealed details of China’s porcelain production in his letters written in 1712 and 1722. He described how the cobalt changed from a black powder to being buried by a white glaze and finally emerging from the kiln;

 'but the fire makes it appear in all its beauty, almost in the same way as the natural heat of the sun makes the most beautiful butterflies, with all their tints, come out of their eggs’

 Cobalt Dishes

An exploration of cobalt on bone china, experimenting with hand painted designs mixed with traditional Chinese tissue prints. Surface pattern is inspired by elements of the iconic Willow Pattern and the combination of stripes and geometric shapes with traditional Chinese patterns.

Using the industrial process of slip-casting, I design and create functional and sculptural forms, individually decorated using a variety of printing methods. I tend to work in multiples creating communities of pieces that gather together creating their own unique dialogue. Pieces both functional and decorative, intend to question common values of the function of a form, enabling the viewer to alter their feelings on a particular object. Current work is inspired by my love for blue and white ceramics reflecting on the historical importance and influence of traditional patterns used on pottery. This is an experimental body of work exploring the use of cobalt on multiples of cast bone china vessels.

Images taken on the opening night by Conor McAfee. Above Rebecca Killen Ceramics. Below works by Trevor Woods, Sinead Young, Brendan McAfee, Ellen Woods, Alison Hanvey, Sean McBride, Carol Willey and Claire

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AuthorRebecca Killen

With the growing popularity of the 'Flower Bottles', we are excited to announce that we have expanded the bottle collection. Bottles are now available in Tall, Medium and (super cute) Mini and are decorated with our signature cobalt stripes, dipped glaze or simply plain with a striped rim at the top. As with all our bone china products the bottles are finished with hints of gold (yes, real gold) lustre. We took the 'Mini Bottles' out on an adventure to the beautiful Dunluce Castle which is situated on the North Coast of Ireland and got some great shots, please take a look, pin, share, like and tweet.

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AuthorRebecca Killen

I was contacted by Ireland's Image Interiors and Living Magazine to take part in their #valuetheprocess campaign, bringing the focus back to skills, materials and time involved in the process of making. Check out their instagram and twitter pages @image_interiors for more inspiring designer/maker/artists, our wee country is full of them!

Value the Process No.38: Ceramicist Rebecca Killen: "Me cleaning up a cast bottle. After removing from the mould, I am carefully trimming the excess clay from the top of a leather hard bone china bottle using a fettling knife. The bottle is now ready for its first firing." #valuetheprocess

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AuthorRebecca Killen