Ceramicist Julia Smith lives for the soothing rhythm of her pottery wheel and the sound of waves lapping at the Scottish shore outside her garden studio. Words: Madeleine Barber.

Inside a small, glass-fronted studio perched on the banks of the Moray Firth you’ll find mounds of clay, piles of precision tools and, on most days, Julia Smith hunched over a potter’s wheel. ‘I love working with clay,’ she says. ‘Starting with a bag of soft brown mud and transforming it into useful but beautiful things is addictive.’

In 2010, after studying ceramics at art school and working on community and public art projects in Glasgow, Julia moved to the Highlands and started potting full-time. Today, she is thankful for her seaside location: ‘Whenever I return home from a frantic trip away, the first thing I do is look out to sea and let out a deep breath. I find living by the sea both calming and energising.’

From wild and choppy waves to glassy, silent waters, the landscape proves a great source of inspiration for Julia. The beaches, forests and hills that hug the Moray Firth have inspired the production of many a plate, bowl and mug. It’s the colours and textures of the Scottish shoreline that influence her pottery designs. Achmelvich, between Lochinver and Drumbeg, is her favourite section of shore. ‘I love to go late spring or early autumn to avoid the midges and caravans,’ she says.

Over the past four years, Julia has accumulated four studios to accommodate each stage of her pottery, all of which are clustered in, or around, her coastal home. From here, she throws ceramics on a spinning potter’s wheel inside her garden studio, then goes to the garage, where she fires up the kilns. Julia’s technique requires three firings: the first is called the ‘bisque’; the second takes place after she’s applied her home-mixed glazes; and the third seals in the details. This technique achieves sharp detailed drawings over soft, fuzzy glazes. ‘I love the contrast,’ she says.

Tide, one of Julia’s collections, was born out of a visit to Iceland. ‘I found the black sand beaches, blue glaciers and colourful landscapes fascinating,’ she recalls.

Although Iceland has proven a popular destination for Julia and her ceramic-driven lifestyle, her heart still beats for Britain: ‘For me, there is a liberating feeling of being by the sea, and I would find it hard to live anywhere else now.’

To be up to date with her shows and exhibitions, check out juliasmithceramics.com. To browse ceramics to purchase, visit juliasmithceramics.bigcartel.com or etsy.com/shop/juliasmithceramics. A list of additional stockists is available on Julia’s website.