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.

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!!!!

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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