Jacqueline de la Fuente as “de la Jardin”, londoner paper clay artist
Tell us a bit about yourself Jacqueline !
Hi I’m Jacqueline de la Fuente, the artist and designer behind de la Jardin based in London, UK. I am a mother to two young kids and after taking a few years to be a full-time mum, I have recently got back to making art. I am mostly known for my sculptural vases and objects made from Paper Clay using paper and card waste. I’ve always had a passion for design having an 8 year career as a Textile Designer for interiors, after a Cake Designer, both of which have been invaluable experiences. Starting de la Jardin and making my vases has been an incredible journey so far and I’m excited to see where this will take me.
“I developed the recipe into Paper Clay which takes it away from a craft technique to more of a long lasting art material”
The invention of papier mache dates back over 200 years and many of us experienced it in school from an early age. Do you also have childhood memories of papier mache? How did he make his appearance in your life as a young mother?
I most definitely remember working with Papier Mache as a child which was always the classic torn paper, flour and glue layered over a balloon. For some reason I remember more of the process than the result and always checking to see if it was dry… I find that I am still doing this!
Papier Mache definitely reappeared when I had my two kids, making crafts for Halloween or Easter. Although since I started making my sculptural pieces, it feels very separate from this even though it has the elements of Papier Mache, such as flour and glue. I developed the recipe into Paper Clay which takes it away from a craft technique to more of a long lasting art material. Calling it Paper Clay feels more in keeping with how it can be moulded and shaped into an object and almost feels like stone as a finished product.
In your creation process, did you first see paper as a material to experiment with or did you have a fairly precise idea in mind of what you wanted to create, without necessarily having the raw material in mind? What are your biggest inspirations ?
I have always had a passion for ceramics and making objects by hand which stemmed from my career in textile design for interiors through to a brief stint as cake designer. I had always wanted to work with ceramics, but looking after my young kids and finding the time to pursue it proved difficult. This is when I started experimenting with different materials. As soon as I realised I could use paper to make my objects, I was blown away and excited that I could create all my ideas and the added benefits of recycling.
De la Jardin, a pretty young adventure
I made my first vases in January 2020. I created three different styles and bravely shared them on Instagram in March where they were sold instantly. They can be found in my current collection as the Leif pot in natual, Mio Vase in lilac and La Lune Vase in black.
How do your children perceive what you do today? Do they understand the importance of your approach?
My children are constantly surrounded by my creations and see the stages of construction to the end product. They understand that I recycle paper to make my objects and are very aware of the reasons for re-using these materials.
“I am inspired by interiors and photography and how an object or art can define a space and bring it to life.”
Would you say that you took a long time to get to grips with this material? Have you sometimes hesitated to change to turn to clay, for example?
The first time I made Paper Clay was quite an exciting and nerve racking moment – mainly because I didn’t want to be disappointed if my idea didn’t work. Luckily it worked straightaway which led to my first 3 vases. Since then I’ve made a few refinements but have pretty much stuck to my original recipe. I would one day like to explore ceramics but feels there’s still room to experiment with Paper Clay.
At Cool Machine, we love the perfectly imperfect result of your objects. The surface is full of relief and rough, one could sometimes confuse it with stone. Your pieces are very alive ! Could this result be different depending on the paper you use in your recipe ?
One of the things I love about this material is how tactile and irregular it is. Although rough looking, it’s smooth to touch and I feel Paper Clay is an ideal material to create the perfectly imperfect look. They are pieces that feel good to hold in your hand as every part of their surface is unique. I use such a variety of paper and card waste, so the fibres of the pulp can change the consistency of the clay. The result of my recipe can change depending how well I break down the paper into a pulp and the natural colour of the clay can also change depending on the colour paper used.
“One of the things I love about this material is how tactile and irregular it is. Although rough looking, it’s smooth to touch and I feel Paper Clay is an ideal material to create the perfectly imperfect look”
Ecology, sustainable , recycled materials, give waste a second life are priorities. Would you consider giving courses in the future to pass this fabulous know-how on to other creatives?
I have to be honest I haven’t thought that far ahead yet and by no means would I call myself an expert in this subject. I would however, consider talking to other creatives about design and how we can look at existing materials especially ones that are discarded daily. Fabric cut-offs and single use plastics for example, could be turned into something creative and new.
Jacqueline's favorite on Cool Machine
I have been a big admirer of Cool Machine even before I started making my vases so it’s a real pleasure to be part of your carefully curated collection. I love how you bring together an array of well known and emerging artists from across the globe. Cool Machine definitely have an eye for unique contemporary art that many will love.
As for my favourite piece from Cool Machine, that’s actually a hard one! If I had to choose, I love the ceramic shelf by Mickey Philips. I like how they are functional pieces that can hang on your wall as shelves, yet sculptural. The bold colours are amazing too!
You are at the start of this great creative adventure, what can we wish you the best?
My creative journey has really taken off organically and so far I feel very luckily my art is liked and appreciated by many. I have ideas that I am eager to explore such as making larger one-off sculptural pieces and pushing to see how far I can take this material. I would obviously love to see my business continually grow !