DMU grad designs exclusive bakeware for National Trust

Charming ceramic designs have earned Alice Funge multiple awards and a lucrative commission by the UK’s largest conservation organisation.

The exclusive collection for the National Trust, created by the Design Crafts graduate from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), is made of a neutral stoneware base overlaid with a French blue colour.

Alice’s distinctive four-piece range (144 items in total) features a National Trust scone recipe, in her late grandmother’s handwriting, and is now on sale in stores and online. 

“This amazing opportunity has allowed me to work with a larger retailer, which has been a really good experience,” said the 22-year-old from Warwickshire.

Alice praises the support from DMU’s year-long Artist in Residence scheme - offering successful graduates free access to facilities to develop their craft - which she took up after graduating. 

She said: “My residency gave me the space and facilities I needed to fulfil the National Trust order. The fact that I didn’t have to worry about the financial side of things was great.” 

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For each collection, Alice throws her pieces on the wheel, adds the colour and recipe by hand, and fires them in the kiln three times. 

“The whole process can take up to three weeks, but making them by hand means that every single one is entirely unique,” she said. 

“I like to let the colour spill out over the side of the bowl to replicate the drip that might be left after pouring mixture out of a bowl when baking.

“For the National Trust collection, each piece features an inscription of their fruit scone recipe, which I chose because it’s so well-known and is served in their cafés all over England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

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Incorporating her grandmother’s handwriting in her collections distinguishes Alice’s work and gives it a personal touch. 

She said: “When I first started developing my designs, I asked my grandma to write out specific recipes for me. 

“She recently passed away, but I still continue to use her writing on my work as a lasting legacy to her. She also wrote out my name, which I now use as my maker’s mark.”

Alice first became interested in working with clay during her degree at DMU, after exploring a variety of different materials and disciplines, such as glass and metalwork. 

“I was always drawn back to the ceramics workshop,” she said.

“I love throwing on the wheel and the feel of the clay between my fingers. It’s a really creative discipline and you're always developing your style and skills.”

The commission came about after Alice won the inaugural National Trust Artisan and Craft Associate Prize last year at New Designers, one of the biggest platforms for emerging talent, during which DMU also scooped the coveted Best Stand Award.

This year Alice was chosen to exhibit as part of One Year In at New Designers, showcasing the top 100 new design businesses in the UK, which resulted in a sought-after Country Living Associate Prize including a free stand at the Country Living Spring Fair 2019.

Posted on: Friday 03 August 2018

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