That has to be one of the coolest names ever! And even more appropriate if you consider that Natasha is a sculptor and ceramicist, so her work literally does go into the fire to be transformed into something beautiful!
In the Hygge Nook, we have a shed load of creative people. Some create for joy, others do it as their jobs. One thing’s for sure, creative people enjoy having hygge in their lives, and ofte find it a great source of inspiration or a way to spend their downtime. I asked Natasha some questions about her life, and the hygge in it.
Tell us a little about yourself….
I’m Natasha Phoenix and yes that is my real name. I am 43 and I live in East Lothian in Scotland. I live in an old stone cottage in the Lammermuir hills. Otherwise known as the’ back of beyond’. In our family we have 4 children, three cats, three chickens and one dog. And, of course, not forgetting my poor long-suffering husband!
I spent 16 years as a primary school teacher working in high poverty areas. In fact, I worked for a very long time in the area where the film Trainspotting is based. When I was a teacher, I always had a hygge corner in my classroom. And in later years I came out of class to work with children’s emotional well-being using mindfulness, Meditation, yoga and NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming). While I was a teacher I also trained to be a sculptor and Potter over13 years.
Now I am lucky enough to be a full-time artist working from home.
What’s your job title? (paid or unpaid)
Sculptor and Ceramicist
I have a studio in the house which is part of my utility room. I also work outside a lot in the gorgeous Lammermuir hills because the raku is fired outdoors. I share a studio space, as well, for very large sculptural pieces at the Poldrate centre in Haddington which is an old watermill and very hygge. If it’s dry, I will always take my work outside
When did you first hear about hygge?
I first heard about the concept of hygge in about 1998 though I didn’t know the word for it. I met one of my now best friends, Sine. She’s from Denmark and she’s back living there now. We used to go over to stay with her parents in a small village near Aarhus. I was so taken with their gorgeous house and the way they celebrated Christmas. I couldn’t believe that they put real candles on the Christmas tree! In fact, I loved Denmark so much I spent a lot of time there and actually met a lovely Danish man whom I almost married. It wasn’t to be, but my love of all things Danish and hygge has remained. I probably heard the actual term hygge about 10 years ago and I was immediately like “Oh yes, I understand”.
What does hygge mean to you?
To me hygge is all things comforting and calm, simple, wholesome and magical. In the everyday reality of my life, things can be stressful or harsh and I find living a hygge lifestyle and embracing the things I find to be hygge, an excellent way to practice self-care. It makes me happy and less stressed.
I think the British do hygge very well. When it first became popular I was thrilled, because it brings happiness and calm. In Denmark I learned people would rather go without some things and save up to buy one really good quality item rather than lots of cheaper items that will need to be replaced . The idea is that the items will be passed on in the family and last many years.
So when I see more expensive hygge items, I understand the value isn’t just in the quality of the item but in enjoying something that you worked hard to get . I would like to see the British embrace that more. That is a very Danish concept of hygge.
I think in Denmark in the 90s, hygge was still very much about quality time, quality things and wholesome, traditional Danish values. This was wonderful in many ways. I actually remember being on a bus and people coming to collect their post off the bus driver at each stop. However there was also a reluctance to be open about some of the less hygge things in life.
Certainly since hygge has become so popular it is not tied up with Danish tradition and morality so much, which makes it more accessible to all of us.
Does Hygge inspire your work?
My work is incredibly hygge . Once I start I have no concept of time . And when I’m building a small house and it comes to the part where I add chimneys and decorations, I could lose time completely and spend hours with each house, adding things and fiddling with it. I follow the rule that no clay should be wasted so if I have a little left I make tiny weeny things . Which is how I ended up with lots of tiny jewellery and tiny houses.
All things hygge inspire my work . When I’m designing a new piece I’m imagining how someone will feel receiving it as a gift, and how they would be happily looking at it on their fireplace. Whenever I’m packaging orders I get great joy in adding little extras and then wrapping it up in beautiful boxes with ribbons. I always use recycled packaging and old boxes for the outward packaging. So when folks receive it probably looks like right scruffy box, and then they open it to discover a beautiful package and hopefully get great joy in receiving the little unexpected extras that I add.
Tell us about your perfect hygge day… what would you do, who would you be with and where would you spend it?
My perfect hygge day would be spent with my family at home. After a delicious long lie in, we would wake up to see it was first frost. The day would be fresh and bright with patches of Autumn sun. Wearing our soft giant jumpers, we then go for a long forage and go collecting raspberries, redcurrants and blackberries.
While we were out, we would see hares and deer and lots of birds of prey. And, of course, lots of sheep. The kids would run about and I would find interesting pieces of wood, which I’m obsessed with. Once home, we would build up the fires. While the fires are getting hot we can prepare the berries, turning some into syrup, and make giant piles of fluffy pancakes. We will then all happily sit down and have a lovely long family lunch with lots of laughter and berry stained mouths. Then all the children would clear up obviously.
Afterwards, we will all settle down on our giant couch for a family movie. Cuddling up under blankets with lots of vanilla tea, doing nothing but being together, warm and contended.
Would you like to share any places on social media? Websites, social media pages etc to do with your business or that you have found particularly helpful in your hygge life?
I have my own website for my business. I make lots of hygge-inspired pieces in raku.
Natasha’s work is beautiful. I was lucky enough to win a leaf necklace in a giveaway early this year, and I have my eyes on some raku houses for Christmas. She very often runs giveaways and competitions on her website and Facebook page, so do pop over there and follow her for more pottery eye candy.
Creating is something that always makes me happier, as I write in my latest book, Happier ,which is available now on Amazon in paperback and Kindle version.
Hygge is all about appreciating the small pleasures in life to feel happier. Crafting and creating helps in that process. Writing this blog is one small way I keep hygge at work. You can find details about all my books, and how to connect with me on social media on the Start Here page of my blog.