Christopher Viviani is the maker behind Clod & Pebble and his ever growing collection of handcrafted ceramic & wooden ware is a celebration of individuality and uniqueness. Relocating his studio to the beautiful Ayrshire countryside where he grew up, Christopher is continuing to produce a unique collection of ceramic and wooden pieces. Such & Such are thrilled to add a range of Clod & Pebble pieces to our collection which, will include a butter dish, white stoneware mugs, a brilliant salt pig, spoon rest, soap dish and some swedish butter knives.
Often we hear people talk about feeling unsatisfied with their job but it takes real courage, hard work and talent to walk away and turn your passion into your day job. It is obvious looking at the work of Christopher Viviani, that he is naturally talented and with a degree in Sculpture, maybe it was only a matter of time before he decided to return to making once again. Thank goodness he had the courage and determination to make the change as his wooden and ceramic ware is certainly unique and each handmade piece holds the mark of individuality he is striving for in his work.
How did you get to where you are today?
I started Clod & Pebble in 2014. It came about after a series of unsatisfying jobs where I was sat in front of a computer all day. It got to the stage where I’d just had enough of it. I come from a Sculpture background and I missed making things with my hands and having something tangible at the end of the day.
Things started off quite small. I would watch YouTube of craft people at work, mainly bushcraft videos, then woodturning videos, glass blowing, axe making, hand built ceramics, wheel thrown ceramics, etc. The clay videos were something that really grabbed me. I’ve always found clay to be a tricky material to work with, but something that was quite easily accessible. I started by buying bags of clay and coil building pots as a hobby. I would then transport them to my parent’s farm in Ayrshire. I tried different methods of firing there. Basically I was making fires and watching my pots explode. I lost about 95% of all work made during this period but I didn’t care. I just loved the process of playing around, trying to understand the material and how far you could push it. I really enjoyed this experimentation.
At the same time I had started wood carving again. This was something I dabbled in growing up. There are a line of trees that surround my mum and dad’s farm and I spent time walking round and identifying trees there. The area is exposed to fairly high winds so it’s not uncommon to find trees down. One day when I was out walking I saw a young beech tree that was down. I carried it back to the house and decided to do something with it. When I cut into it it was incredible. It was a small beech tree with incredible spalting marks through it. I made my first spoons out of that young tree and I loved the idea of making something useful and beautiful out of something that would otherwise have rotted into the ground.
I started carving more and doing more clay work. I bought my first potter’s wheel and kiln on Gumtree. Read up on glaze chemistry and researched different glaze recipes I could try out. All the while my workspace started to grow and I kept on making. Once I had a decent amount of stock I was happy with, I set up a website then started getting orders almost immediately. It really was a natural progression but the step from hobby to passion escalated quickly. This line of work is far more satisfying than any other job I’ve had.
Where are you based & why?
My girlfriend and I are currently living in Darvel, Ayrshire. My workshop is in Craigie, about 12 miles away. It’s where I grew up at my mum and dad’s farm. I have a lot of space and freedom to work and make a mess.
Kim and I were living in Edinburgh for the past 10 years or so and we just moved back around 6 months ago. It’s quite a different pace, but it’s allowed me to focus on work more. The commute was a killer from Edinburgh, especially because neither of us can drive at the moment. I’ve been cycling to work, wind, rain, hail or shine. We’re both doing driving lessons just now and have just bought a wee car, that’s something I couldn’t really imagine having done if we were still living in Edinburgh.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve got lots on the go just now. I’m working on reorganising my workspaces, restocking and working on dinnerware ranges, experimenting with new glazes & clays, the odd bit of metal work.
Can you describe a typical working day for you?
My work day starts by looking at my ‘to do’ list I set out for myself from the previous day.
I am terrible with lists by the way. Mine are always so unrealistically insane! I give myself way too much to do for one day. It’s got to the stage that if I can finish half of one of these insane to do lists in one day I’m happy.
Generally the day will be filled with packing orders, answering emails, replenishing stock in the potters wheel, trimming, glazing, unloading the kiln, or doing some woodturning or if the weathers good I’ll be recycling clay by hand outside for a large portion of time.
What is the most exciting thing that has happened since you founded Clod & Pebble?
Setting up a fair is always pretty exciting. It’s about the only time I get to see all my work together. I love talking to people and meeting other makers.
In particular, the Etsy Made Local Fair in Glasgow just before Christmas last year was a highlight. It was so busy and it was a really amazing day.
Who, where and what inspires you?
Other makers on YouTube and on Instagram. I love watching videos of people make beautiful things. There’s something magical about the process. I watched a video of a glass artist making marbles the other day and it blew my mind! I never really thought about how much time and effort goes into making glass marbles.
What can we expect in the future?
I recently invested in a fairly powerful electric potters wheel. This is going to help me make larger plates and dinner sets more easily than on my kick wheel. So over the next few months I’m going to be really focusing on that and hopefully getting my work in restaurants and cafes around the UK.
City or country?
North or South?
Beach or Mountain?
Books or Movies?
Can I say audiobooks?
Sweet or Savoury?
Tea or Coffee?
Cat or Dog?
Sketchbook or Laptop?
Design or Make?