Box O Fun Founder & Director, Layla Hashim

“I have been involved in ceramics since 2016, working mainly with porcelain. I’m trying to push it to the extremes! You can view images of the some of the work I have created from clay from 2016-2020 here. I have formulated my own ceramic glazes, including chemically stable ones (this is really important if you’re eating off them). You can view the glazes that I’ve published publicly on Glazy here. Science is more interesting when you can apply it to real-life situations. I’ll be pursuing a research degree in ceramic glazes for industrial use in the future 🤞🏽. Small glaze rooms and home labs aren’t big enough for the kind of equipment I need.

I'm currently studying a Masters at Staffordshire University and working on separate ceramic and design related projects (large and small) with the University.

  • Ceramic glaze formulated by Layla.

  • Ceramic glaze formulated by Layla.

  • Lava effect ceramic glaze formulated by Layla.

  • Porcelain pinch pot hand carved by Layla.

  • Small porcelain piece hand carved by Layla.

  • Porcelain slab pot, hand carved

I’m a descendent of well-known geometric carpenters, so I can’t escape the design process. My paternal grandfather worked with Mohamed Makiya as the lead carpenter on some of his most prominent projects. My father’s work (below) is held in private collections.

  • Table inlaid with mother of pearl, silver and camel bone.

  • Table inlaid with mother of pearl and various hardwoods.

  • Table inlaid with various hardwoods, mother of pearl and bone.

My life in the UK has been a different experience to some of my ancestors. I spent most of my early years growing up in L8, Liverpool. As a child, I stitched papers together (which I revisited during HND Art) and drew geometric patterns. I practised calligraphy and have grown through life looking at calligraphy in other languages. I learnt to play musical instruments, wrote poetry, studied music technology and become a community arts practitioner. I was heavily involved with music and performing arts in Liverpool.

As life slowed down/became less self-centred, I turned to visual arts – it’s not as taxing on your body, so it’s easier to start and stop, plus you can do it at home.

I was disabled for long periods of time due to Systemic Sclerosis and needed to rebuild my strength. I started with my hands first of all – I can remember a conversation in hospital when my doctor told me that they were considering amputation. I could barely look after myself or my baby daughter. Paper, beads and fabric – soft materials helped me regain fine motor skills, I often explored a medium at the same time as my daughter. I still get strange sensations, swellings and shifts in colour of my fingers because they will never be perfect.

  • hands

Couture clothing and costumes – I made quite a few of those too!

Physiotherapy exercises are boring and painful, so I use my hands to create different gestures – how you hold a needle is not the same as how you hold a lump of clay. “Use it or lose it” is still a saying I live by.

Clay is different from every other artistic medium – it’s a living organism, it will always be alive until the point you fire it. If you see green spots on it, perfect – this is beneficial bacteria, after all, clay is from the ground. When you’re working with porcelain it makes it extra special to work with. After its’ been through the first stage in the firing process, the green will disappear.

Considering the fragility of clay and the amount of failures that can occur throughout the stages of the ceramic process, you can make one of the hardest materials using a pinch of earth. Every part of the world is made up of various colours of clay. There’s material science going on at every stage of the ceramic process. I’m not just being creative when I touch pottery, I understand it to its molecular level.”

  • Bucket of Porcelain reclaim in the garden.

  • Phase diagram, the American Ceramic Society, 1956.

  • 'Virtues of Unity' by Halima Cassell, Manchester Art Gallery 2019.