My love of clay started at my kitchen table

Ceramicist Mairi Stone will be among those exhibiting her work at the City Hall Crafts and Design Fair this weekend.
My love of clay started at my kitchen table
Mari Stone

TELL us a little bit about yourself:

I am English by birth and moved here 18 years ago with my partner and our three-year-old daughter. We came looking for a place that would be pretty and rural, and that still had a sense of community. We found that in west Cork.

My work background is in graphic design but I had gained a love for clay when attending a night course at a pottery when I was 19.

Whilst I was at home looking after my daughter in the early years, I got chatting to the girls in a local pottery, I got my first lump of clay from them and made it into things on the kitchen table.

That was back in 2001. From then, with the help of friends, family, and both the (then) West Cork Leader and the Enterprise Board, I have slowly worked my way up into the business I have now.

I am inspired by nature — the patterns and forms and the sheer fragile beauty of it all. That is what I try to express in my work.

I use Scarva Potteries porcelain paperclay which is the perfect medium for my work, and use glass to bring colour to the pieces, or I use the translucency of the porcelain to create illuminated pieces like lamps.

I now sell my work at home and worldwide thanks to the amazing connectivity of social media.

Mari Stone's work.
Mari Stone's work.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

If weather permits, a nice evening stroll with my daughter and or a friend or two, followed by an early pint. Then home for a scrumptious meal and feet up for the rest of the evening.

Do you enjoy lie-ins or are you up with the lark?

Both, but more often I’m up early, especially on work days. However, I feel cheated if I don’t get one or two lie-ins a week.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

All the time. Living in this part of the world I have always felt that you have to grab the weather when it comes. So if a beautiful bright sunny day presents itself midweek and I’ve nothing that has to be urgently done that day, I’ll go and make the most of it and work at the weekend instead. That is one of the joys of being self-employed in this particular job.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

Next city on my bucket list is Barcelona and I would go with my sister and daughter (if she’s about and not on her own travels) as they are both Gaudi freaks like me.

Closer to home, is there someplace you like to head to recharge the batteries?

I have three favourite spots: Barley Cove beach, Glengarriff Woods, and Gougane Barra. All beautiful and all dog-friendly.

Do you like to catch up with family and friends at the weekend?

I do, particularly friends who work the Monday to Friday. So many of them are self-employed like me that weeks and weekends often get blurred.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

I love gardening and am slowly bringing my garden back from the overgrown state it was in when I bought the house two years ago.

I’m putting a polytunnel up next year and cannot wait to be spending time in it, there’s really nothing quite so grounding as getting your hands in (a different kind of) mud and growing your own food.

Otherwise, it’s walking. Thankfully, more and more walkways have opened up in the area to feed my need to ramble.

Mari Stone's work.
Mari Stone's work.

Do you like to entertain or be entertained?

If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

I can’t deny I’d be happy to have all my meals cooked for me if given a choice but I changed my diet a couple of years ago to a plant-based one and that did renew my interest in cooking.

I make a mean nut roast, smoothies to die for, and who knew the amount of things you can make with the humble chickpea!.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go-to spots for lunch or that special meal?

We are very lucky to have the superb Budd’s restaurant in Ballydehob, while the Riverside in Skibbereen is great too. Both cater for the plant-based eater. Also, O’Sullivan’s down at Crookhaven is a lovely spot for lunches.

Sunday night comes around too fast.. how do you normally spend it?

Sitting down to a good movie, or sitting round the table with friends playing a few games makes for a fine Sunday evening.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

Summertime Mondays are usually around 7am but 8am for winter.

Mari Stone's work.
Mari Stone's work.

ABOUT THE CRAFT FAIR

Stars of Irish contemporary crafts and design will be showcased at the biggest-ever City Hall Crafts and Design Fair in Cork from November 24-26.

With 85 exhibitors, this year’s fair is a celebration of the best Irish designers and makers from fashion to jewellery and beyond — with thousands of items that can only be found in Cork.

There will be a huge emphasis on local makers.

More than €150,000 per day will be spent at the biggest crafts fair outside Dublin, and fairgoers in search of an original Christmas idea can be guaranteed a haven of quality wares both for gifts and the home this festival season.

There will also be a Spectacular Christmas Food Emporium which will feature over 25 local artisan food producers, taste-tempting visitors with the best of the season’s fare.

See www.cityhallcraftsfair.ie.

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