Fabulous Flower Bricks!

Fabulous Flower Bricks!

Museum inspiration

I think flower bricks are fabulous! During my student days studying for a ceramics degree I spent a fair bit of time sketching objects of antiquity. The V&A Museum in London was (and still is!!) a favourite of mine. I remember a wonderful blue & white 18th century flower brick. A rectangular ceramic box vase with a number of small holes in the top so the flowers are kept in position. I found it very inspiring and have enjoyed making box containers of various shapes and sizes ever since!

Here’s a selection my most recent flower brick designs.

The making process

I make a protoype from cardboard first. I cut out templates. Next I roll out a flat slab of clay using a rolling pin ( a bit like rolling pastry). Carefully placing the card on top of the slab I cut out the shapes. Assembling the clay pieces at the correct time is crucial. The clay must be strong enough to hold itself up but still have moisture to minimise cracking. Once assembled , I brush it with white slip and wrap it in plastic overnight.

brushed green soap dish with fever few flowers stuck in the top

I enjoy the inherent qualities of slipware. White slip brushed over terracotta is the perfect surface for sgrafitto. I work quickly, scratching into it with simple doodles and scribbles. I finish off with a fun session splattering coloured slips with a paint brush. I place several pieces on a board at the same time and just go for it! Occasionally I miss and prefer what’s landed on the board!! My work is all about mark making and building up layers of colour, one piece could have up to 5 or 6 layers.

brushed green soap dish with fever few flowers stuck in the top

I finish off my pieces with cute little feet.

Finished off with a clear lead-free earthenware glaze. This makes them smooth to touch and durable for everyday use.

I have a flowerbrick at The Contemporary Ceramics Centre online shop! (Now SOLD) 27/11/20

I will be adding some of these to my online shop soon!

Product Spotlight – Circular Soap Pillow

Product Spotlight – Circular Soap Pillow

My latest obsession is soap dishes. After ditching the use of plastic at home, I turned to using solid shampoo and soap bars. Originally making one for my own bathroom, I now make them in all shapes and sizes. Some are mini colanders (for nice chunky soap), some are round dishes, others are boxes with little feet. I’m constantly re-developing them with endless possibilities for design.

 

circular soap pillow in white and blue slipware with pie crust rim and drainage holes
circular soap pillow by sarah monk ceramics with round soap

This hand made circular soap pillow is slab built and press moulded in terracotta clay. It’s brushed with a thick white slip and splattered with cobalt blue. I’ve added some small raised clay blobs and scewer holes to allow your soap to dry out in between uses. Finished off with a pie crust rim and supported by four dinky little feet.

This Sarah Monk Ceramics original will give a contemporary art feel to any zero waste bathroom.

Available to purchase from my shop (Free postage in the UK). I also have more variations of this design available from Contemporary Ceramics Centre, London until the end of December 2020.

 

Ceramic Bug Houses in the Woods

Ceramic Bug Houses in the Woods

 

How could I resist?

When Hellens Manor invited me to provide a piece for their sculpture trail it was an immediate ‘Yes!’ The Manor has been described by Country Homes Magazine as ” The jewel in the crown of Herefordshire homes”. A privately owned Tudor house set in atmospheric grounds.  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 usually 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 fun running  free pottery workshops under the guise of Eastnor Pottery for years!

sarah monk turning up  in the woodlandsat hellens manor i
official logo of the craft potters association of great britain
arm shot of sarah monk holding up a ceramic bughouse in a woodland

Inspiration

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 a function and to be caring!

My initial thought was to make a pottery bird house.  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 result was a collection of little ceramic houses. Insect dwellings filled with hay, tiny twigs and seeds. Small hidey holes for bugs to dwell or hibernate. Designed to hang in trees or outside spaces. My intention was 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.

It was a beautiful day in August when I set out to install my bug houses. I had decided to hang them on a beautiful beech tree, just off the path in the woods.

When?

Hellens Garden Festival ran throughout  August 2020. The event raised £6700 for st Michaels Hospice. I’m looking forward to exhibiting again on the 12th & 13th June 2021  and I’m already designing new ideas!

You can find details about the Sculpture Trail here. Hellens also have a Facebook page and Instagram.

I have a selection of bug houses for sale on my online shop and at my studio shop here at Eastnor Pottery.

 

sarah monk hanging up her slipware bug houses in a tree at hellens manor
sarah monk sculpture installation hanging bug houses at hellens manor
four bug houses hanging on a tree made by sarah monk ceramics
New designs at Contemporary Ceramics Centre

New designs at Contemporary Ceramics Centre

 

 My new designs are on display at Contemporary Ceramics Centre, the only retail Gallery in London specialising exclusively in British Studio Ceramics. 

I have two new collections on show until the end of December 2020:

Breakfast Ware consisting of querky espresso cups, wobbly looking egg cups and an interesting collection of cereal bowls. The image above is a slipware cheesedish most definitely the biggest pinch pot item I have made!!

Bathroom Ware consisting of hand built ceramic soap dishes of varying shapes and sizes, including my popular soap pillows  and a selection of hand thrown toothbrush mugs.

4 egg cups with real eggs and two espresso coffee cups in slipwarte by sarah monk ceramics
official logo of the craft potters association of great britain
a selection of ceramic bathroom ware by sarah monk ceramics

The Gallery is run by the Craft Potters Association, of which I have been a selected professional member for over 25 years. They set it up as a ‘benchmark for current practice in studio ceramics and with regularly changing display’  It’s always possible to purchase  a wide range of work from functional tableware to individual collectors pieces.

My new designs can be purchased from their own online shop here!

I was invited by Contemporary Ceramics Centre to write about my design process on their blogspot which can be viewed here!! It’s titled ‘In Conversation with Sarah Monk’.

I hope you like my new designs…. I shall be adding some to my own shop soon!

 

espresso coffee cup by sarah monk ceramics
contemporary ceramics centre website blogspot about sarah monk ceramics
brushed green soap dish with fever few flowers stuck in the top

Instagram Giveaway

Instagram Giveaway

I’m a big fan of Instagram, it’s so visual. It’s a great platform for all creatives and small artisan businesses to show products and connect with like minded people.

I made such a connection with Chaaboo.com , makers of handmade vegan soaps and solid shampoos. I was enchanted by their Instagram feed and very pleased to see that they are based in Moreton-on-Lugg,  Herefordshire, just half an hour from me. Having been obsessed with making ceramic soap dishes for a couple of years, I’m always on the look out for artisan soaps. So I gave them a follow!

I admit, Instagram Giveaways aren’t part of my business strategy but when Chaaboo asked, I couldn’t refuse! Collaborations are great and anyway, I love their products! We arranged to meet at my studio to discuss the strategy and how we would move the idea forward. I invited Chaaboo to choose a soapdish from my studio shop collection and they offered to photograph it with their soap bars, create the Insta post and send the prizes to the lucky winners!

 

 

hand made ceramic soap dish by sarah monk and soap by chaaboo
circular slipware soap dish in white and teal by sarah monk ceramics
side view of sarah monk circular soap dish with three soaps by chaaboo

The Giveaway went really well. Some very happy winners and a few new Instagram followers on the way!

I would definitely consider doing another promotion sometime. If you have Instagram you may want to give us a follow, who knows when our next promotion could be!!

@sarah_monk_ceramics      &      chaaboo_com

Good luck & best wishes,

Sarah

 

press moulded circular slipware soap dish made at eastnor pottery by sarah monk
collection of handmade soap by chaaboo
the bottom of a crcular soap dish signed by sarah monk artists signature studio pottery

Article in Clay Craft Magazine Issue 40

Article in Clay Craft Magazine Issue 40

 

 

Lovely article in Clay Craft Magazine!

Ceramic journalist Paul Bailey writes about how I got into ceramics and the current everyday running of my Herefordshire studio. Paul delves into the courses and workshops and the inspiration behind my most recent designs.

Clay Craft Magazine is jam packed full of inspiration for potters as well as providing simple projects for all abilities. Such a lovely vibrant magazine!

Thank you Clay Craft and a big thank you to Paul for writing it!

You can find my proflie article in Issue 40 and it’s titled ‘Surrounded By Ceramics’.

 

 

slipware cup handmade spoon and biscuit plate by sarah monk ceramics plus clay craft magazine font cover
holding a slipware cup with tea inside and holding magazine article
scribble hand thrown teapot by sarah monk ceramic

When I recieved my copy, I settled down in the corner of my studio with a nice cup of tea, a few biscuits and had a good read!

I have now ordered a subsription and look forward to receiving it regularly!

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

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