Darlington artist Hannah Harriet Dent Noble has a passion for pottery and concrete is her medium of the moment. The 26-year-old tells Jenny Needham what inspires her and why she loves getting her hands dirty

Have you always been creative?

For as long as I can remember I have made things. Looking back, I think I should have always been working in a hands-on, creative job. Some people are arty, some people aren’t, and those who are should be encouraged to use their skills. When I was younger it was often drummed in to me that art was not a ‘real subject’ and that I should go and get a ‘proper job’ but what could be better than making a job out of doing what you love? Especially if you’re good at it! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all fun and games, and I don’t get to spend all of my time playing around in the studio, but on the days that I do, work doesn’t even feel like work.

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What artistic background do you have?

Art was always my favourite subject at school, although I have no formal training. I really enjoy learning how to do make things just from trial and error. It’s amazing how fast you learn and it’s a great feeling when you notice yourself getting better and better and it’s all from your own hard work. I love the feeling when I try out an idea and I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out, or if it will even work. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.

What materials are you drawn to?

I love getting hands-on. Fiddly things are not for me, and to be honest, I prefer the abstract look anyway. Dusty pastel concrete is my favourite thing are the moment. It’s cool because I get to play around with trying out new colours and techniques, and people are buying them so now I get to do this as my job! I honestly feel so lucky that people like what I make. Every follow, like or comment on Instagram/Facebook and every order that comes through I am genuinely so blown away that people appreciate what I’m doing. If people keep buying them, I get to keep making them and that’s just amazing to me.

What inspires your designs?

Travel has had a huge influence. My mum is a travel agent so we got to visit amazing places throughout our childhood. We visited Africa most years throughout my childhood and when I turned 18, I went back there and travelled around by myself.

One thing that really inspires me is seeing these people, who have nothing, making amazing things using their hands. These guys can take a piece of wood and a knife and with nothing but practice and hard work they have developed the skills to create perfect wooden signs and wooden animal carvings. I have so much respect for that... There’s something very exciting about watching a piece of art being created. I try to show some behind-the-scenes clips on my Instagram page @handcraftedbyhh to show the different stages of my designs coming to life.

If ever I am searching for inspiration, I always find it when I’m out exploring. If I’m appreciating a beautiful rooftop view, or a sunset or one of my all-time favourite things, the sea, then I have a ‘moment of stillness’ before navigating my way back to the studio to make something with that image in my head.

What do you have for sale on Etsy?

I sell hand-made personalised wood and concrete signs, and dusty pastel concrete pots, which can be made in custom colours to match your home décor. Some of my pots are filled with soy wax candles. My best-selling candles are Champagne and Roses: they have wooden wicks and dry rose petals on the top which melt in to the warm wax when the candle is lit. I spent months researching what goes in to the candles, I knew I wanted them to be paraben and phthalate free, so it took me ages to source decent ingredients that weren’t full of toxins. Another good thing is that my candles come in one of my concrete pots, so when you’re done with the candle, you can use the pot as a small plant pot.

What is your own home style?

My house is full of pots. I’m like a crazy cat lady, but with pots, not pets! Working with concrete, every pot comes out totally differently. It makes parting with my favourite ones difficult, but I do have bills to pay. Plus, I love seeing photos of them in their new homes. It’s great to see other people getting enjoyment out of my work.

What’s next for Handcrafted by HH?

I have so many ideas. I am excited to set up a new website, where I will share some blogs with tutorials on how to make things. I’d love to host some casual face-to-face workshops too, where local customers can come along to make their own pot and meet people. ‘Pots and Prosecco’, or something along those lines. I love what I do, but it can get quite lonely being on my own in the studio all day.

Another thing that would be special for me is if I could travel the world and meet up with the people that inspired me in the first place, to learn more about their crafts. It would be cool if I could work with them to hand-make some homewares then ship them back to the UK and sell them from my site. Many of these talented craftsmen have minimal opportunities so it would mean a lot to me if I could give something back and help them out. Robots save time but to be honest I get so bored of seeing the same stuff in the shops all the time. There’s something very special about hand-made items, their quirks and imperfections and the way they each tell a story?