A Question Of Process #22: Cadi Froehlich

Edited by Sandra Crisp LG

Sandra Crisp LG: “Elements hidden behind today’s mass communication systems including recycled copper alongside carpet underlay have previously featured within your practice and 2013 MA show at Chelsea College of Arts. More recently ceramic sculpture and pottery are punctured with holes, and often threaded with copper metal wire.  
“2023 saw the arrival of a brand-new kiln for your studio. Meanwhile, on TV Channel 4’s 2024 The Great Pottery Throw Down we see you playing with ‘a ton of clay’ and making plates, dinner sets and fabulous gluggle jugs under pressure of the clock.
“It will be great to hear more detail about any of the processes within your practice, as long as isn’t top secret!”
I think of myself first and foremost as a maker. I also draw. A lot. More of that later. 
I think in 3D. I love materials. I’m also easily overwhelmed. So when my early works all began to come back to the precious experience of human connection and communication, I think that the only way I could investigate deeper in a very focused way was through material- copper. Wires, components, sheets. I intercepted them all at the scrapyard, on their way from being one thing to becoming the next thing. 
Sometimes the sculptures develop from maquettes- small object ‘sketches’ that ask to be larger or from my actual sketchbook, which I am never without. These sketchbooks are full of ideas, studies, shopping lists and meeting notes too. It all goes into the work. Sometimes the work was inspired by the form the scrap was found in. Or where it was found- the wires I found during my residency with Red Mansion in Beijing formed the basis of my work ‘AQI’ which first brought me to the attention of The London Group.’
Always the work was pushed to the limit of what I could do to the material. How heavy I could lift. How much I could afford. How far my technical skills, tools, studio space could be stretched.
I was forever inspired by one of my first art tutors on my foundation course who warned against the dangers of Perfect Studio Syndrome whereby you hear yourself thinking ‘if only I had the time/space/budget/etc I’d make my real work, and until then this is just a rough version’. Danger! The perfect conditions do not exist. Get working!
And then, one of the many part-time jobs I have had over the years to fit around childcare and fund my studio time, became incredibly stressful and involved, and cost me my studio. I didn’t know how to get out of the job, or where I might be able to go if I did, and had a strong sensation of needing to work with something soft not scratchy, malleable with my bare hands, no tools required. Something quiet. Process driven – demanding of my time, commitment and focus every step of the way. And so I arrived at clay. 
At first it was a meditative practice, a steep learning curve and struggle to make anything like the ideas in my head. But I loved it. Then I was asked if I would consider producing a work which might be suitable for projections to fall on, and somehow the connection between microchips, their patterns and the silica in them led me back to the clay. This was the point I realised the clay could become integrated into my studio practice, despite the daunting challenge of mastering the techniques it requires. 

In a previous life, just married, we lived in Silicon Valley and I worked for a microchip company. I saw the silica wafers ready for the etching machines, and they were beautiful. These round black disks become microchips, the keys to all our digital communications, so replicating them in basic mud seemed primal and perverse, and fun. So the work Silica Discs was born. 


Silica platters, 300 cm x 45 cm x 45 cm at ‘In the dark II’ exhibition at The Cello Factory, London. These stoneware discs are inspired by the silica wafers I used to photograph in the clean rooms of Silicon Valley before they got etched into microchips. The design references the micronelectroscope images of the surface of a chip. They were designed in monochrome to allow colours and images from other artworks to be projected on to them.

The agonising job happily ended just as lockdown arrived. Out of the frying pan into the fire. But it was the ceramic studio which was my salvation. I arranged a small space to use alone during those eerie months, and worked for hours each day (away from teenagers studying for GCSEs and A Levels who politely demanded SPACE), quietly getting to know the material and the processes. Quietly making sense of how this might be related to my work. 

‘The Service’, 2020, stoneware and salvaged copper, made in response to my mum’s funeral during lockdown when we were allowed 30 mourners only. Each of the 30 mugs has been visibly held too tightly, some to the point of becoming unsuitable for use. They are connected by salvaged copper wire.

I began seeing how the wires fitted with the vessels. Somehow a reference to functionality remains important to me for now, and limiting myself in this way has again helped me focus. Mugs, bottles and plates. Artworks in their own rights, which now the viewer feels they have permission to hold, to touch and to interact with. Perfect. 

I learned to throw in a very precise production pottery atmosphere which was great for learning the fundamentals of making with clay. A year ago I spent a week studying with Jem Steward in Ross on Wye at a workshop which blew the doors off what I knew and opened the way to experimenting more with surface and, form. I began working on constructed forms such as this ‘Component Bottle 3’


Mugs are easily accessible forms of tactile artwork that has a customary place in people’s lives. I make most of my mugs very quickly, leaving makers marks and imprints on them, as I imagine the hands that will cradle the vessel down the line, and the human connection that evokes.

I love soaking up as much as I can from other artists, other practices and new experiences. I don’t know what made me apply to the Great Pottery Throw Down last year, but it looked like fun, and it looked like a place to learn a lot. And so it was.
The Great Pottery Throw Down is a TV show on Channel 4 which shows 12 potters competing over 10 weeks to make works designed to briefs and also some surprise challenges.
It’s filmed at the Gladstone Pottery Museum in Stoke-on-Trent and the historical legacy of The Potteries and our production heritage are a major inspiration to the show. We were asked to work with different techniques using different clays in different locations, against the clock. It felt like the most intense clay course I had ever encountered, and was a massive challenge for me, completely out of my comfort zone with regards to my work: I have focused on material and form for many years, but a big shock to me was how my drawings made it onto my work. It seems they successfully manage to communicate my thoughts to others as well as myself, and I am enjoying the feeling of drawing outside of my sketchbooks, which I have used for years and years, never having the confidence to transfer any of the images onto my work.
I’m excited to see how my work develops as a result of all this new input, but it’s also quite confusing working through this process.

During the filming of The Great Pottery Throw down we were challenged to work with different clays and different techniques, including paper clay and Raku firing, which require very specific skills. Sculpting an animal bust for Raku week was very unfamiliar to me, but something about the physicality of the making, and also something about birds really stuck with me, and it is a them I am exploring more in my studio. I’m still trying to understand what it is about birds- the most commonly encountered wild animal? Communicate with song? Freedom and an overview?


The second episode challenged us to coil build gluggle jugs, which was also a new technique to me. I think my sculpture practice helped me to understand the mechanics of the gluggle quite quickly and I used decorative motifs and, colours in my own way. As soon as I heard that I’d been accepted onto the show I ordered a tester set of underglazes because I had absolutely none! Painting and mark making have never been part of my practice despite the sketch books I keep. I layered the colours using sponges and a needle nosed bottle, which felt more accessible to me than using brushes, but I’m determined to overcome my fear of the painting- I realise it’s just a matter of practice!

I had a blast, met lots of nice people, a lot of them also artists, and learned a very large amount. It was the hardest I have worked since my MA final show, since the kids were tiny, since I singlehandedly redecorated our whole house last time we moved. By the time I left the show after episode 6 I was a shell of a human and took to my bed for 2 solid weeks. But it was one of the most fun things I ever did. 
The show seems to be opening some doors but more importantly it’s opened my own mind to the possibility of making a sustainable practice from my work. I’ve got the confidence back to start applying for shows and residencies based on my ceramic work now. 
I’m exhibiting at art and ceramics fairs this year too. The work I submitted for the 111 Not Out exhibition, Quay Arts, Isle of Wight with The London Group is my favourite piece of ceramic art I have made so far, so it feels really special that it launched at The London Group 111th Anniversary show, and I could share it with members first.
Cadi with ‘The Cockerel’, 2024, stoneware and salvaged copper at 111 Not Out exhibition, Quay Arts, Isle of Wight


‘The Cockerel’, 2024, stoneware and salvaged copper. Made in response to inaugural The London Group member, Stanislawa de Kolkosova’s work for the London Group exhibition 111 Not Out, Quay Arts, Isle of Wight. This plate cracked during the making, but retained it’s integrity through both firings. The loving and optimistic act of connecting the sections back together celebrates my hand in the making.

Cadi Froehlich LG, 2024

Coming up:

  • Next up 23 March 2024 with the Makers Market back at the Gladstone Pottery Museum in Stoke-on-Trent where we filmed the Throw Down
  • A curated Open House in the Brighton Festival for the first 3 weekends in May- I’ll be there for the first two.
  • Celebrating Ceramics at Waterperry Gardens, near Wheatley, Oxford is at the end of July
    Anyone can use the discount code EXHIB24 to get a ticket for £5 instead of £14
  • Craft in Focus at Hever Castle will be in September
  • Some smaller pieces available online at cadiartworks.bigcartel.com

Other applications are pending, but the calendar is looking exciting and full of more new opportunities, including some weekend workshops TBA.

My Great Pottery Throwdown sketchbook

A Question of Process
#21: Tricia Gillman