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.

Emerging Potters Magazine.

Emerging Potters Magazine.

I’ve been featured in a lovely online magazine! It’s called Emerging Potters and contains 35 pages of ceramic artists, gallery news and book reviews. Paul Bailey, the editor asked me six questions: how I got into ceramics, a bit about Eastnor Pottery, my influences, where I sell, how do I use social media and my observations of how pottery has changed in the last 5 years. Paul has put my answers into a beautifully wriiten three page article.

The feature can be found in the April to June copy,  Issue 14 . The magazine is produced quarterly on the ISSUU platform. Paul is very happy to send a copy if you email: paulbailey123@googlemail.com

You can also follow Emerging Potters on  Instagram here!

Paul has also asked for some extra  images of my work  to write an article for Clay Craft Magazine. Thanks Paul!!!!

Ceramic Rabbit in Puzzle Wood.

Ceramic Rabbit in Puzzle Wood.

Making ceramic bunnies is not my usual bag I admit, but when Helen, from Puzzle Wood put a call out to local Potters to contribute to her  Rabbit trail I couldn’t resist! Puzzle Wood is a magical ancient woodland in the Forest of Dean. It’s a great place to explore with the kids, as we have done many times with our own and is a popular TV and film location. Helen’s idea was to launch a kid’s trail over the usually busy Easter weekend.

I started making my contribution back in February, deciding to hand coil it. A technique I never ever use, but thought it would be fun to do something different. I used terracotta clay because it has a deep, earthy colour very fitting for a rich, earthy forest. Once built, I covered the whole rabbit in white slip and then scratched into it with simplified flowers and splatters of cobalt blue. I wanted it to be blue & white; a classic ceramic pallet that would stand out against a backdrop of forest green.

Unfortunately because of the pandemic, Puzzle Wood closed to the public. Helen decided to continue her plans in a different way and turned it into The Great Virtual Puzzle Wood Easter Trail!! Available to view on their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.

There’s a colouring competition too, with lots of great prizes, including a couple from us here at Eastnor Pottery!

 

Slipware Studio Pottery

Slipware Studio Pottery

I’m really into making slipware. I use terracotta clay because it has a deep, rich depth of colour and is a dream to throw with. It feels like melting chocolate through my fingertips. 

I’m very interested in surfaces. When you brush white slip over terracotta it has a deep earthy quality. I work quickly on this, scratching into it (sgraffitto) with random scribbles and doodles. It’s an instinctive and intuitive process. I do not deliberate or labour over the surfaces. I like to mess them up a little too with a few random splats of coloured slip or underglaze.

It’s all about the human element for me, layering up surfaces, rather like a painter at a canvas…. mark making and doodling.

 I finish off my pieces with a clear lead-free earthenware glaze. This makes them smooth to touch and also durable for everyday use.

My Studio at Eastnor Pottery

My Studio at Eastnor Pottery

I love my studio.  Nestled below the Malvern Hills, on The Eastnor Castle Estate and just 2 miles from the charming market town of ledbury it’s the perfect location. The building itself has character. It’s a listed building, over 200 years old held together with blacksmith nails, wattle & daub, wooden beams and thick stone walls, made contemporary by painting the interiors bright white and vibrant blues. Eastnor Pottery was once a domestic dwelling, a quaint little bungalow comprising of 2 bedrooms (now office and kiln room), a living room (now reception room & studio space) , the outside loo (now the clay store), boiler shed (shop & extra studio space). The Eastnor Castle Estate Company kindly knocked a door through into an adjacent farm building to create our largest studio space which we call the Main Studio.

How I first got into ceramics.

How I first got into ceramics.

At the age of four my parents got a dog. I loved going on dog walks, strolling through the fields and playing in streams. I can remember finding clay, I took some home in my hand. I picked out the stones and played with the gritty clay.

Growing up, I was surrounded by ceramics as my Dad collected Antiques. We had glass fronted cabinets at home that would rattle and chink when I walked past. Piles of ‘Miller’s Guide’ books to look through. My Mum also collected a slipware, more commonly known as motto ware. Most of it was made by Watcombe. She had a collection of over 500 pieces adorning two pine dressers. I enjoyed picking them up, reading all the sgraffitto sayings and running my fingertips over the slip -railed patterns.

Doing a degree in Ceramics at Bath Spa University seemed like a natural progression for me. There I met Jon Williams, a fellow ceramics student and eventually my husband to be. We were hard working students and made the most of all the studio time provided.

Jon and I decided to set up a studio together. We settled for beautiful rural Herefordshire. An old redundant cottage on the Eastnor Castle Estate became available.

 

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