Christien Van Bussell studied at the National Art College Minerva in Groningen, Holland for five years, beginning with the study of watercolours and illustration. After being invited to join a pottery workshop by others on the course, a first encounter with the pottery wheel led her to working in clay. The process of working in 3D really appealed to her, and this was the beginning of her journey of studying the techniques and mastering ceramic craft. She specialised in mouldmaking and slipcasting, techniques she still uses to make my tableware, first designing a model of clay or plaster. She then makes the mould of plaster in which slip is poured. This leaves a layer of clay in the mould which is taken out when it is nearly dry. If needed handles can be added at this stage. The pieces are then glazed and fired at 1260 degrees Celcius which makes them strong and durable. Christien likes the quality of ceramics, of the fired clay and in particular the technical aspect of making the moulds and casting small series.
Christine balances her own designing and making with teaching, both of which she does at her studio in Aughrim. She will also travel to schools and communities invited to run ceramics projects or to create sculptural objects to enhance their communal spaces. Ideally she would like to expand the production and sale of her work, while maintaining her teaching, investing her skill and patience for her craft in others, seeing the continuation of traditional craft methods.
At the concept board, Christien begins her designs with simple shapes and strong lines. Influenced by the work of Ettore Sottass who makes monumental shapes for daily use ceramics, shape is the most important part of her work. Colour and sometimes a simple decoration are only to emphasise the shape of the piece. She also gets ideas from modern architecture, and admires architects like Calatrava. Having seen his amazing buildings in Valencia, she has observed shapes, lines and combinations of colour she would like to use to make new pieces. During the process of making her pieces she keeps a close eye on the balance and uses repetition of shapes to create interesting well balanced work.