We sat down with Lorna, a freelance footwear designer and ceramicist based in Leicester.
“I’ve always been an art nerd and it was my favourite subject at school, but due to a lack of career opportunities I decided when I was quite young that I wanted to be a designer. Since I started working, I have always struggled to find time for art.”
Whilst on furlough during lockdown, Lorna decided to try out a new creative project. One afternoon, she bought some air drying clay and made pots as a way of switching off from what was going on in the world – and that was the start of Nipnacks.
Nipnacks is a one of a kind ceramics and sculpture studio based in studionAme in Leicester, celebrating body diversity and female sexuality.
“Feminism and body positivity is an ongoing topic between my friends and I, so I wanted to make some art that would reflect that.”
Having discovered the theme for her work, Lorna then spent a lot of time connecting with different artists who were also championing body positivity. These artists not only inspired her, but their work carried an important, healing message, and Lorna wanted her work to do the same.
“Soon after launching, my friends started asking for a pot of their own boobs, and after setting up an instagram account I got even more requests.”
After receiving a lot of orders and being a self taught, relatively inexperienced ceramicist, Lorna was thrown straight in at the deep end. She was however helped by a couple of other talented ceramicists when she moved into her new studio. They offered training and gave her support to help keep up with the sudden increase in demand.
“I tend to get bored quite easily and don’t really enjoy making the same thing more than once, which is why I enjoy my work with Nipnacks so much.”
In her normal job as a footwear designer, Lorna is used to coming up with new designs and working quickly, a trait that she now applies to Nipnacks. She is constantly thinking of new themes and designs for her work, trying new and exciting things.
“Sometimes ideas don’t quite work out, but when they do, it’s amazing!”
Lorna is a huge advocate for body positivity, having previously poured a lot of energy into worrying about her appearance. She also believes that most other people have had their own struggles with negative feelings about the way they look too, but during lockdown she realised that it really doesn’t matter that much.
“I think the representation of ‘normal’ bodies is really important, especially on social media.”
Sex positivity has also been a running theme for Nipnacks, which Lorna has loved exploring and finding inspiration for.
“I’ve connected with a few designers who make amazing kinky clothing, including Broke Boutique. I was lucky enough to collaborate with her, and she made some miniature versions of her harnesses for my pots.”
Lorna’s favourite piece of work she’s produced is Aliehun; an entire collection of pots that were designed from her interpretation of aliens. Her inspiration came from Bjork, comics and fan fiction illustrations that she found online.
“I spent so long researching it, which admittedly took me to some interesting corners of the internet.”
Throughout the project, Lorna experimented with a lot of different paints and materials to get some unique effects, and she was really pleased with the results.
Body sculpture commissions are also another favourite for Lorna. She’s actually just completed a commission for a dominatrix, and she recently did a very promiscuous sculpture for someone as a gift for their partner!
“I loved working on these commissions as it’s such a celebration of their body and sexuality, which are the two main themes I love exploring with Nipnacks.”
Outside of her usual commissions, Lorna has done several charity projects and collaborations, including Nipnacks raffles and auctions which have raised thousands of pounds for charity.
As for her proudest moment, just getting to where she has without a background in ceramics is her biggest achievement in itself.
“I’ve thrown myself into the deep end and learnt as I’ve gone along. Some through trial and error and some through advice from really kind and talented ceramicists I’ve met along the way.”
“The best thing about owning a small business in Leicester is the is the little community of small businesses; everyone’s been so welcoming and friendly.”
Lorna lives just a 20 minute walk away from her studio, which is not only convenient, but also inspiring as there are some amazing street art murals on the route. The studio itself (studionAme) is full of such a diverse range of artists, which is also inspiring for Lorna, having made some really good friends in the process.
“When talking about my favourite local, independent businesses, I have to mention Simon who owns Faulty Stone. He’s a ceramicist and self professed glaze nerd who is also based at studionAme. He is so talented and passionate about what he does, he makes all his own glazes and even his own clay! He’s just amazing and has been so helpful and kind to me which I am super grateful for.”
“One of my favourite artists is Taynee Tinsley. I bought some of her work years ago which is still my favourite piece, and I fangirled over her a bit when we first became friends. I’ve even been lucky enough to collaborate on a sculpture with her too!”
“The Bloom Project on Queens Road is another of my favourites; it’s an amazing flower and plant shop, and it’s also female owned.”
In terms of the future, Lorna would love to be able to focus on Nipnacks full time. This year she is planning on attending more markets and events promoting herself, speaking with customers face to face rather than through social media. She would also love to get her work stocked in some independent homeware stores in Leicester and further afield.