Kara Leigh Ford, a pottery master from England, quit her day job to pursue her passion full-time. As more people find dissatisfaction with the nine to five lifestyle, they’ve turned to entrepreneurship to make ends meet. With the advent of the Internet, following your dreams has never been easier. So when Kara started making pottery, she quickly found an online audience for her work.
“I make objects out of clay, and I teach others pottery too. I started pottery as a hobby nearly fifteen years ago. After finishing my Fine Art degree, I was working a nine to five office job, and I needed to do something to keep me sane. So, I started a pottery evening class, and I was hooked,” Kara explained.
She loved it so much, and she would rush home from work each day and design pots late into the night. Now her greatest passion has become a viable business, done right out of her home studio. There, she hand makes everything, including tableware, mugs, teapots, teaspoons, kitchenware, and larger art pieces.
The whole process can take anywhere from two to six weeks to complete, but it’s well worth the wait. Kara makes everything with love and great attention to detail, imbuing each piece with a refined yet rustic charm.
Kara says this about her work:
“I’d like to think my work offers a more mindful eating and drinking experience. Drinking from a handmade mug is a very different experience to drinking from a mass-manufactured mug. Think of me (the maker) whilst choosing a cup from the cupboard, enjoy the feel of the form beneath your fingertips and study the colors and textures of the glaze whilst waiting for your tea to brew. Feeling the love and care that went into the piece, taking time to ground yourself in this object which was born of earth, water, and fire.”
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More about the woman who quit the nine to five grind to become a pottery master
Reminiscing about the beach gets her creative juices flowing more than anything else. She grew up along the Devon coast in England, where the beach was practically her backyard. When Kara, the pottery master, makes her pieces, she thinks of the lazy summer days next to the ocean. Most artists find inspiration in nature, and for Kara, it’s always been the beach.
Her favorite beaches include Bantham, Bigbury, and Challaborough, all of which have been incorporated into her works. She designs her pottery, intending to transport people to their favorite beach or coastline. Kara herself makes regular trips to the beach to recharge and gather inspiration.
It wasn’t long ago that she would visit those beaches with a head full of dreams. Now, they’ve become a reality, thanks to her hard work, dedication, and belief in herself.
“Being a full-time artist always felt like something other people did – a little too far out of my reach. Five years ago, I gave up the day job, and I built my own pottery studio. My work is inspired by the Southwest coast of England, the texture and colors of the beaches that I grew up by. All of my glazes are named after my favorite beaches and the changing moods of the ocean,” she said.
Some names of the pieces include Stormy Seas Dinner Plate, Calm Seas Bowl, Frosty Blue-Green Mug, Sandy Bay Jug. Aside from naming the works, part of the creative process includes deciding on a color scheme and form. With a background as a painter, Kara first decides on colors and textures.
From painter to pottery master
“As a painter, I was always very inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe. I also see her color pallet reflected back at me in my pottery,” she explains. “There’s something about working in 3D that painting on a canvas could never afford me. I think about the colors that I want to use on a pot first before I think about the form it’s going to take.”
“Every time I open my kiln, it’s a surprise. Every pot I make has its own unique character; no two pieces are ever alike. I want each one of my pieces to feel like it has a soul, I describe my work as natural, calm, and uncluttered. I make everything myself on the potter’s wheel, I use stoneware clay and formulate my own glazes,” she says.
The pottery master sells her work in her online store, featuring everything from mugs to lemon squeezers to teapots. She even offers travel mugs if you like having coffee or tea on the go. Of course, all her products have trademarked blue hues, giving them a calm vibe.
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When Kara isn’t making pots, she teaches others how to make them. She offers online courses about the basics of pottery, as well as how to market it online. In addition, she teaches private lessons to those who are serious about learning the craft. For those who prefer reading, she also wrote a book for beginners interested in pottery.
Kara says she’s fortunate to have realized her dream. With the help of her community and loving husband, she got her studio set up and ready for operation. Following your passion means taking a leap of faith and sometimes asking for support, but it’s worth it because your heart will never steer you wrong.
Final thoughts on the woman who gave up her day job to make pottery
Being a pottery master didn’t happen overnight for Kara, but her dedication and passion catapulted her dream. She had a goal, made steps toward achieving it, and didn’t stop no matter what obstacles she faced. Now, she works out of a pottery studio in her backyard, running a full-time business. She designs and handcrafts the pottery, in addition to writing books and selling courses for beginners.
She makes being a pottery master look easy, though we know it took many years of hard work. Which of Kara’s pieces did you like best? Tell us in the comments!