Time for teapots!

Time for teapots!

 

 

Teapots are the ultimate pottery skills challenge…. I must say, I have a love hate relationship with the processes involoved! The prospect of making another teapot is always exciting but, they take a long time and it’s a balancing act. The different componants must fit together perfectly. As the first picture below illustrates, there’s a spout, the main body and a lid, these are all hand thrown as seperate componants. A hole is cut out  and the spout attached. Lastly it needs a handle. All of these bits and pieces need to be placed correctley. It’s really important for a teapot that pours well, is comfortable to hold and look fab!

hand thrown teapots at the assembling stage wheel thrown by sarah monk ceramics
slipware teapot with fruit lid by sarah monk ceramics
scribble hand thrown teapot by sarah monk ceramic

Once all parts are assembled and I’m satisfied it will feel good my attention turns to the character of my teapot. Teapot making gives me a great oppotunity to have fun. I look at the teapot from all angles, taking into consideration it’s shape and size. My most recent designs have splashes and splatters of colour and lively sgrafitto drawing. Designing a lid is most special, just like putting a topper on a wedding cake! The finishing touch.

My first set of teapot designs were bright yellow! (see below) I have made quite a few querky teapots over the years. They’ve have ended up in lifestyle magazines, ceramics books and museum collections.

yellow earthenware teapot with red fruit design made by sarah monk 1995
yellow pottery teapot with green bugs hand thrown and decorated by sarah monk ceramics
Slipware hand thrown teapot & teacups by studio potter sarah monk made at her pottery studio eastnor pottery ledbury herefordshire

Featured in this blog are my most recent designs. Teapots just like these can be found in my online shop. I only make 2 or 3 a year and they go very quickly!

Bug Houses at Hellens Garden Festival 2020

Bug Houses at Hellens Garden Festival 2020

 

How could I resist?

When Hellens Manor invited me to provide a piece for their sculpture trail I just had to say ‘Yes!’ The Manor has been described by Country Homes Magazine as ” The jewel in the crown of Herefordshire homes”. It’s a privately owned Tudor house set in atmospheric grounds and I have enjoyed many happy visits there.

About Hellens

Hellens Garden Festival hosts an annual fund raiser for two charities: St Michaels Hospice and Back to the Wild. It takes place over a weekend and showcases the best of local growers, producers, makers and foodies. Speakers, interactive demonstrations and music make for a very engaging event. Very well supported locally, the event has an enjoyable and celebratory atmosphere. I’ve had loads of fun running  free pottery workshops under the guise of Eastnor Pottery for years!

The Festival aims to celebrate the natural world and has an educational approach to local and global issues. The inspiring title forthis year’s event is ‘Together We are the Seeds of Change’.

 

slipware ceramic bug house by sarah monk ceramics in white with cobalt blue dots on a shelf in front of a green plate
holding a wet clay slipware bug house in the studio of sarah monk ceramics
eastnor pottery studio shelves with slipware bug houses by sarah monk ceramics

Inspiration

To begin my designing, I looked at the gardens: the ancient orchards, woodland trees. Hellens Manor has a team of dedicated gardeners concerned with conservation. I felt strongly whatever I was going to create needed to be functional in some way…. it needed to be caring! Clay is the perfect material for this project, it’s abundant and it comes straight from the earth.

My initial thought was to make a bird house, so I set about making a clay maquette (a small scale prototype). I discovered the small scale had a charm and an intimacy all of it’s own. My thoughts turned to the smaller creatures of the forest….. creepy crawlies!

The results ended up as a series of little ceramic houses. Insect dwellings which I’ve filled with hay, tiny twigs and seeds. Small hidey holes for bugs to dwell or hibernate. They’re designed to hang in trees or outside spaces. My intention is to display them in a tidy row, like houses in a street. Each house has been decorated differently in surface and colour. The idea that we live side by side in a world where we are able to protect each other and the world around us is a good one:

‘Together We Are The Seeds of Change’.

 

five pottery bug houses hanging on a branch with dappled sunlight
close up of three sarah monk ceramic bug houses hanging in the garden with leaves behind
brushed sea green bug house on a white shelf

When?

Hellens Garden Festival runs on the 22nd & 23rd August 2020 and is situated in the village of Much Marcle near Ledbury. Details about the Sculpture Trail here. They also have a Facebook page and Instagram.

Contemporary Ceramics Centre

Contemporary Ceramics Centre

Throwback to June 2018, I was dragging a suitcase of my most recent slipware across London…

Contemporary Ceramics Centre  had invited me to exhibit and I was excited to meet the staff again. ‘Ceramics Centre’, as it’s also known, is run by the Craft potters Association (CPA) of which I have been a member for over twenty years.  It’s the only retail gallery in the whole of London that specialises in British Studio Ceramics.

 

sarah monk delivering her work to contemporary ceramics centre with a wheelie suitcase
a selection of sarah monk ceramics on a display table at contemporary ceramics centre
official logo of the craft potters association of great britain

I was taking part in the makers rotation, which changes every three months. This is such a great idea as there is an ever changing selection of work by CPA members.  It was a great opportunity for me to showcase and develope a whole new range of breakfast ware that I had been developing. I wrote all about it on the Contemporary Ceramics blogspot.

Here are a few pieces I selected to send at the time!

Photo credit: Kirsty Pye

slipware hand thrown slipware cheese dish with cheese and fruit
hand thrown slipware colander bowl with fresh peaches plus a slipware pottery spoon oin blue and white
a stack of three slipware bowls in white and terracotta slipware with some fresh radishes

I have been invited back January 2021. It’s a fab gallery with longstanding, friendly & very knowledgeable staff, it’s well worth a visit! The Gallery is opposite The British Museum on Russel Street!!

They can be found on Instagram Facebook & Twitter

 

HeyClay 2020

HeyClay 2020

This is the time of year when Eastnor Pottery is usually gearing up for HeyClay, a natioanal event organised and promoted by the Crafts Council  and Get Creative UK.  Last year we ran three days worth of FREE potter’s wheel classes, it was really popular and we were full to the rafters! This year is rather different of course. So, as an alternative solution, HeyClay has become an online event #GetCreativeAtHome . Me & Jon are  delighted it’s still going ahead, seeing it’s the 6th time we have taken part (so it’s very much part of our yearly calender). We’ll be hosting live tutorials, studio tours and insights into our making across our Eastnor Pottery social media platforms. I’m doing a live stream about how I make a slipware  slab built soap dish too!  HeyClay 2020 is running from the 15th -17th May

Slipware soap dishes.

Slipware soap dishes.

I have been obsessed with designing and making soap dishes of all shapes and sizes for quite a while. Originally I made one just for me. A change to soild shampoo to reduce plastic waste was my motivation and I needed a soap dish of some kind.

The little circular ceramic soap dishes in the featured image above are the first designs I produced. These are the  perfect size for my favourite shampoo bars and soild conditioners which I purchase from my favourite store, Lush . I have a row of these little dishes on a wooden shelf in my own bathroom and they work fabulously!

My soap dish range has now expanded ….some designs are square, some rectangular, some are circular, others are small colanders. Soap comes in all shapes and sizes as do my soap dishes.

I have also added toothbrush mugs to this range, they look cool as a set.

My ceramic slipware soap dishes are slab built by hand in terracotta clay. I brush the surfaces with a lovely thick white slip and then add extra colours on top by either brushing or splatting (very fun indeed!!!). Some of the pieces have sgraffito, a pottery technique where by you scratch into the painted surface to reveal the clay underneath. I finish off most pieces with pie crust rim.

Every piece is covered in a durable shiny glaze and fired to earthenware.

My latest slipware soap dishes can be purchased on my website shop or by visiting my studio shop at Eastnor Pottery  near Ledbury in Herefordhire.

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