The story of Freya’s Clay Club began with ceramics sculptor Chris Bramble becoming a father. Chris has been making ceramic art for over 30 years, also teaching in schools and colleges. Chris has twin daughters called Freya and Yolande who both grew up with clay at their fingertips, always helping out although originally taking their father’s craft for granted, they are now both part of a growing pottery business. Freya is a fine artist who wants to get everybody involved. She started teaching children during her studies in Fine art and everything began to grow from there. Yolande is a theatre practitioner specialising in participatory theatre and sensory based arts.
A family with creativity at its heart, we want to spend some time with Freya to find out more about her clay club, life behind the scenes and what her plans are for the future…
Freya, talk us through the journey that lead you to launching Freyas Clay Club…
I decided to take this seriously in my early twenties before that I was always just messing around. I had decided that I didn’t want to enslave myself to the system and had lost respect for the art world at the time unfortunately, due to my University experience…though.. I thought it would be a good idea to earn abit of pocket money just helping out in the studio and then I had thoughts of doing pottery sessions for kids and the Ball started rolling and picked up momentum from there! I fell in love with clay though I had never seen it in this way before. And I could feel that there was no going back! I was fascinated by it and could just feel the excitement inside me take hold! And during myself experience of teaching I learned the craft inside out through sharing it with others and learning ‘How to actually translate it to other understanding. I was mostly interested initially in the experience of sharing it with others through teaching and alongside I was doing stuff for myself bit by bit.
However, during my studies I was spending all the time in the ceramic studio after being told by my university tutor that I ought to be doing a ceramics degree and rejecting the very notion! But Ii couldn’t help but admit that I enjoyed the feeling of clay, regardless of the fact my father was a Potter. I had never the intention that I would be doing it too!
Your dad has been making ceramics for over 30 years so you grew up with clay at your fingertips, what’s your earliest memory with clay?
My earliest memory was making a teapot with my twin sister and I think we were really annoyed that the lid of the teapot did not fit properly but I think my dad was busy and he probably thought it was good enough for a pair of 6yr olds and left us to deal with our creation.. As he always did. He was never ever pushy or persuasive or even extra encouraging of us/I doing ceramics. We just enjoyed making stuff in general. Art was our favourite thing.. Especially also with a mother whom made all her puppets at home on the living room floor. We’d be gluing, stitching and painting together for hours on end.
As a fine artist, what do you do when you are lacking motivation?
When I’m stuffed for the gogo energy in the studio Sometimes I will just do nothing and chill and let these still moments serve their purpose. And just know that I do not need to force anything, inspiration comes when it comes, and when it does it’s pretty intense. I’m under my own spell and nothing can stop me! 😀
What are your plans for the brand in the future?
Future plans consist of exploration..traveling. Following my trail of excitement and refining my practice, constantly adding new elements in. I used to do performance based work in uni, but really it’s all about expressing a vibe for me. I’m expressing through clay as a medium and very much stuck in the mud at the moment but in a good way! It has been my therapy through my life and carries a healing essence, and is why I’m so into it! It has a hold over my life style and the way I live, in order to accommodate the very nature of this practise is the way I live. It is connected to every aspect, daily routine and rituals of making all my life. Everything must run easy and smooth in order to work continuously with ease and abundance. Clay is a VERY simple yet a demanding material to work with. It always blesses us with lifes lessons, of patience, preserve and reward.
How much does your dad play a role in your company?
Well to start with I probably would not of had access to this practise if without his studio growing up also his work always inspired me. You can see and feel the depth of emotion in his work, he tells untold stories and hidden aspects of black culture.
Me and dad teach together in his large studio and I have my own space downstairs at Kingsgate Workshops, West Hampstead, London. I teach in the evening and weekends and he does Mon-Thursday. We see eachother everyday and believe me I say, I feel to lucky to see him everyday, I really love and cherish my family and one day they will be gone..so I appreciate!
My dad also does alot of the business, running of the studio, alot of maintenance work, loading and unloading kilns, fixing the kilns and the pottery wheels..making glazes ordering materials..pottery is not easy, every step of the way you need big heavy machinery! Everything you lift is heavy from a bag of clay down to a bucket of glaze! Alot of helped is needed, we have alot of support from loving people around us such a Michael, is 15 yrs in helper!!.
What was life growing up like as a twin?
You know, growing up being a twin was very difficult for me, compared to now, now is absolutely wonderful! I mean I have no idea what it must be like not to have a twin but all I knew is that I was fighting for my own identity until teenage,, because we looked the same. We were very identical so I would do make up and hair very differently (my teenage beauty modifications were awful!) To be honest I still do more cosmetic stuff to myself than my sister and that’s probably engrained insecurities that like to show up still every now and then. Imagine always being compared to what people called the ‘better twin’ the awful things I’ve heard people say about me and right in front of my face, was so hurtful. So in this sense it was very difficult for me more so than my sister! I’ve done alot of self work on self esteem, it used to be very low! My sister has had her troubles too but in different ways. Being a twin, as an adult now, is very interesting, it’s kind of cool, now that I have a greater understanding and awareness, I appreciate every part of her and love our differences and similarities. Yolande her name is, she does theatre like my mother, funny that, again not planned! We are always crossing paths of eachothers art forms and learning alot off eachother. There is a point were all the arts from cross over at the theory level of nothingness. Art is funny in the way, I never understood why the fashion of art is obsessed with minimalism when there is so much so say in this world. I’m not scared to say more is always more! But equally less may be more too. Perception is everything.
Talk us through an average day in your life?
Wake up 6/7am
Meditate for 30mins- 1 hour
Do some juicing of lemon and orange (wakes me up more than coffee), Whisk up some matche latte tea in all these hand made bowls in my kitchen (they are all so different mostly from students throwaway that they don’t like:D
Go to studio when ever I get there, sometimes early, sometimes late!
Teach or do my own work
Go home eat, chill
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to launch a company in your niche?
Go for it and go for it like you mean it! You can’t fail at this if you really want it! Community is important, always help others you never know who will give you a helping hand when you really need it. And you DO need it when you are running a business, you often need ten heads on at once! Dream big and stay positive, everything is learning and you have know idea what is around the corner!
Looking back since launching your business, is there anything you would do differently?
It’s funny, I was just going like an unstoppable train everyday enjoying the process. I didn’t really take freyasclayclub seriously untill I looked back and was like okay this is how I make my living. I think my lack of stress and happy go lucky mentality towards it probably helped it flow and grow with ease. I remember my mum helping me brainstorm the name and I thought.. Whatever let’s just give it a go.
To date, what has been your proudest moment?
I think actually dealing with the level of stress when I was on the Great Pottery Throwdown 4 years ago! I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO Stressed! Filming the show was very long hours, the challenges of what we had to make were very hard, and I was still coming home and teaching on the evenings and weekend.. I lost so much weight! But it was an unforgettable experience! And I was proud that I did it!
When lacking motivation, what do you do?
Go to the park, swim, I love swimming in the ponds..or natural rivers.
Sometimes I’ll just want to hang out with someone,, find a distraction that will spark some joy!
What’s your go-to quote when you want to feel inspired?
You never know what is around the corner.. Things are always in the process of happening for you whether you know it or not! I just think, follow your joy and everything else falls into place more easily.
What does self care mean to you?
Most of my self care is mental and behavioural based, looking after myself as you would to someone you really care about, for example… Well done Freya you can do it, or .. it’s Ok! I’m always trying to see the positive in everything!
But we can talk about hair! I’ve definitely surrendered to my hair! Let’s just say if you see moisture in my hair you know I’ve actually watered and fed it! My hair is always frizzy.. But I think I was born like this So I keep it as it is and don’t do anything that will damage it and just try to moisture and detangle it twice a week. It, especially gets dry with the clay in the studio, clay draws out impurities and dry things out even more! Though I’m very sweaty usually 😅 so it does well for my skin. I really enjoy using natural products, aromatherapy; love face creams and oils. Everything I use is as natural as possible! I simply can’t stand the smell of chemicals. And that’s the same for my food.
Follow Freya for more…
…Best thing todo is come and visit..spend a couple hours in our daily classes.