In Stories of Alchemists, we interview inspiring women who have taken a step back from their day-to-day life to reflect on what’s really important to them. With passion and purpose, they are now following their heart’s desires. This time: Love Q
On a rainy morning in April, we visited Quérine van Poll in her workspace in Haarlem. In this cozy studio, with catching enthusiasm, she creates pots, vases, and urns under the name Love Q.
Quérine previously worked as a flight attendant, which she always enjoyed immensely. Until one time in summer her husband asked her: Is this the job you want to keep doing? She had no answer to this. She started a long and intense search for her passion and came back to something that had always been at the top of her list: ceramics.
Can you tell us about yourself and your upbringing?
I don’t come from a very artistic family, so I never really had an example of someone who was an artist. My idea of creativity was very limited: being creative meant that you were good at drawing or painting. I didn’t see craft as art. During the search for my passion, I asked all my friends to name a positive characteristic of me. Each of them wrote: creative. I didn’t understand that. Me, creative?
It made me realize that creativity was much broader than just drawing and painting. It was also in the little things I did, like decorating the table with beautiful lavender sprigs when guests stayed for dinner. That craft could also be creative and that you could learn that was a revelation to me. My upbringing was nice and loving, but not artistic at all. That’s why it felt to me like I was some kind of puppy who had just stepped into the world of art. Everything made me think: Wow!
This insight enriches my life – it helps me zoom in on what’s behind something. For example, you can say that a cup of €25 is expensive, but I now see how much time and effort someone has put into it, and I think that is very special.
The fast-paced life I had as a flight attendant was always very fleeting. I used to think about that a lot – how you could never really ground yourself because of that fleeting-ness. In pottery, it’s the opposite. I have to be grounded. I have to give my full attention and focus. Sometimes I try to think like an entrepreneur. I think of hourly rates and material consumption. Then, when I open the oven, I see that my pots have broken during baking because I didn’t take the time to set the temperature correctly.
I never understood that whole being in the flow. How artists could sometimes paint for hours or days, and then suddenly stop for months. I now have days when nothing comes out of my hands, but I’m slowly understanding that that time is not wasted. Those moments of silence are necessary to eventually come to all the other things I make. Doing nothing is also part of it.
Can you tell us about the moment when you made pottery your full-time job?
Two years ago I took a course called Speaking With Impact. I found it increasingly difficult to speak in front of groups, so this seemed like a good choice. This course was like a pressure cooker of self-development in which I learned things about myself at a rapid pace. I stood face to face with myself, my stumbling blocks. Apparently, some things had to be done internally before I was brave enough to quit my job. When I had completed the course I was able to review my life as a flight attendant, and I was finally able to say: it’s been great, I can now finish this.
When I considered quitting my job, everyone told me that nine out of ten people regretted it. That scared me, but at the same time, I kept thinking about that one in ten. What happened to that person? I started researching it and noticed how people would say that those one-in-tens had started following their passion. That, of course, fueled the fire in me – what if I was that one in ten? As the quest for my passion developed, the confidence grew that I would be that person who had decided to follow her passion, and who succeeded. And that’s how it happened, I’ve never regretted quitting my job.
What does a day at Love Q look like?
My day starts with a morning stroll to my studio. I used to go by bike, but I’ve started going on foot. In this walk of about 25 minutes, I already start to unwind, so that I enter my studio as relaxed as possible.
From the moment I arrive in my studio, the outline of my day always changes. I usually start by watching the pots that are drying. Do they need to air? Are they still intact? I have to teach myself to first sit down and ask: what is on my mental planning, and what can I actually do today? I want to work with a little more focus. There are always things I just have to do, but in my head I always go in all directions. I act more according to what I feel like and before I know it everything has exploded here. That’s something I want to avoid and therefore I’m trying to get a little more structure in my day. I notice that everything works out better when I am fully focused.
I’m never here for less than three hours because I can’t do anything in a shorter period, but I am happiest when I can be here for a very long time. When I work in my Love Q studio I always forget what time it is. Before I know it, it’s five o’clock. Since working as a ceramist, I’m always too late for dinner!
Besides making beautiful pots and vases, what has pottery taught you?
Being able to pause and focus on one thing. I’m someone who’s always all over the place. That kind of attitude isn’t possible in pottery. When I work with clay I have to take a step back and focus completely on whatever I’m doing. I can’t do several things here at once. Friends sometimes ask me if they can come over and sit with me while I work, but I can’t work like that. The peace and time that come with pottery are the greatest good I have learned here. It’s a slow process that you can’t rush in any way. You can’t say you want a pot tomorrow, which is in contrast with our modern-day society where we want everything this minute. For me, this is like a mirror. I can’t have everything right away – sometimes I have to be patient.
I also never knew that such beautiful things could come out of my hands. When I gift someone a pot that I made myself, I find that so special. I never dared to dream I could make something so beautiful.
What is an important piece of advice that someone has ever given you that you would like to pass on?
Keep searching for your passion. No, better yet: you can find your passion.
I never had a hobby or passion. I always thought I liked everything, but I didn’t specifically have a deeper interest in something. But I always said that if I won a million, I wanted to get my own studio where I could do pottery. Deep down I already knew what my passion was, but it didn’t just show up out of nowhere. I had to actively look for it and take conscious steps to get there. I’ve done a very thorough search to find my passion, but it was at the top of my list all along. Isn’t that weird?
I’m now endlessly trying to learn more about pottery. For example, I can’t stop watching videos about it. I finally understand what people mean when they talk about their passion.
So, if there are still people who do not dare to dream that for themselves, I would like to give them that as advice: your passion is there and you can find it.
What is the next step you want to take in this field of work?
[Interviewer: Actually, I don’t think ‘field of work’ fits in your story anymore, now that I have heard you speak with so much passion!]
Haha! Yes, many people also tell me: “You have such a fun hobby”. But for me, Love Q is just my job, my 9-to-5. Although it secretly doesn’t feel like work. When I come home after a day in my studio, I tell my family how hard I’ve worked that day, but on the inside, I laugh.
In the future, I would like to focus more on large bowls, pots, and urns. Projects that I can work on for longer. I especially want to work on urns because you can give people something with a deeper meaning. If a person you love passes away, wouldn’t you want to keep them with you in something beautiful? I want to continue making urns so that they bring people as much joy as they brought me while making them. Also, I would like people to come here before they pass away, so they can choose the shape and color of the urns themselves, and it becomes even more personal. Sometimes we keep death so far away from us, but I don’t think that is the intention at all. We need to keep our loved ones much closer to us.
Check out the work of Quérine at Love Q: loveq.nl
Images 4, 5, 6, and 7 are shot by Stephanie Driessen www.stephaniedriessen.com