Jo Baker

The Cupped products

Cupped is a compact range of receptacles to house the objects we use every day, snugly recessed into the surface of the user’s choice.

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Initially conceived as an inbuilt solution to accessibly storing the regularly used items on a dressing table, the Cupped concept can be applied to a number of different settings – for example holding keys, pocket contents etc. on a hall stand, or toothbrushes, soap etc. on a bathroom washstand.

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The receptacles themselves are made from hand-poured porcelain slip, marbled with pigment, and fired either unglazed to retain the warm texture of the clay or glazed to highlight the marbled effect.

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Available surfaces are machine-recessed and hand-finished solid wood, plywood or cork, and (soon) cast Jesmonite or lightweight concrete.


Process & design

As a furniture student I decided to use an item of furniture as the means by which my four items relate to each other. I was already throwing around the idea of making a tall, narrow standing dressing table and so took this as my starting point, initially coming up with four very disparate ceramic items to develop – surface-top receptacles, a lightshade, drawer handles and a mirror frame.

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Once I realised the amount of time it would take to become even vaguely proficient in the methodologies needed to make all of those things I reeled in my ambitions and focused on the surface-top receptacles. I researched the types of things users keep on their dressing tables and existing storage solutions used in those currently on the market to get an idea of the most desirable and useful sizes and shapes for my receptacles. I decided on a flat platter, a taller cup, a rounded bowl and a smaller pot. I also researched the aesthetics achievable through different ceramic methodologies and the ‘look’ I wanted for my pieces, and found myself favouring smooth, unglazed vessels in simple shapes and muted colours.

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After a lot of missteps I finally made some moulds that were the right sort of shapes and, following some experimentation, concluded that slip-casting was the best way to get what I wanted out of them and the most consistent finish. As I wasn’t sure about the glossy finish of glazed ware, I experimented with colouring the slip rather than coloured glazes, and cast items at various stages of the pigment being mixed into the slip so creating different marbled finishes.

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The other challenge I faced was working out how to get accurate and snugly fitting recesses in the table surfaces, as the shrinkage of the ceramic studio slip was difficult to predict (as the different sizes of my receptacles demonstrate) meaning the recesses couldn’t be standardised or mapped for CNC routing and so would all have to be hand-cut. This would be a very time consuming process. In larger-scale production, like that undertaken at Royal Stafford, the production process is standardised and the exact dimensions of the items coming out of the kiln known so the CNC cutting programmes and moulds for the cast surfaces could also be standardised and established.

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