About Mary Cutchee
I am a potter based in Devon, and I make ‘modern traditional’ pottery with local Devon clay. I dig much of my clay from fields near my studio - a labour intensive activity as each batch of clay needs to be washed, screened and tested before being used. I like the idea that when people buy my pots they’re getting a little piece of Devon: its land, history and character. I throw on a traditional wooden kick wheel, a process that is like a meditation to me. My whole body has to work in concert, my hands and feet changing speed and rythm as I move the clay upwards; I love the the quiet swoosh click swoosh of the flywheel as I gently kick. Devon clays vary in colour, and I decorate my pots by sliptrailing squiggles and dots, birds and animals based on traditional designs. I use a home-made tool to pipe the liquid clay onto the pot (rather like icing decoration on a cake): speedy execution is required and there is little opportunity to correct errors, giving the work the vitality characteristic of slipware. Although I repeat my designs, each piece is unique as the slip never comes out the same way twice. Finally the addition of a ‘Honey’ glaze creates warm shades of brown - a wonderful backdrop for all kinds of food from salads to pasta to blackberry crumble. Fired to a high temperature in an electric kiln all my pots are food-safe and can be used in the oven, dishwasher and microwave.
I specialise in Slipware - a traditional method of pottery where pots are decorated with contrasting coloured slips (liquid clays). In the 1700s Devon became a centre for slip decorated pots and many made their way to the New World as ballast in ships that would return with tobacco. Slipware was traditionally decorated with images of birds, animals and hunting scenes reflecting rural life. Sometimes mottoes were added that were either religious or political depending on the leanings of the potter. Slipware was traditionally low-fired pottery but happily the local clay will go to higher temperatures making it stronger and more suitable for modern use. I welcome commissions for individual designs, names, celebration plates for births, weddings etc.
Open to the Public?
Yes, by appointment only
Provides Course / Training
Available for Craft Fairs
Available - please ask about pricing
Oven dish made with Devon clay.
I made this oven-to-table dish using the slab method with wild Devon clay. I decorated it with a traditional sliptrailed design of zigzags, dots and a cheeky Owl. The lugs at each end make it easier to pick up with oven gloves on.