Digital Craft Festival

Digital Craft Festival

I’m super thrilled to be taking part in the next Digital Craft Festival taking place from the 26th  – 28th March 2021. I’ve enjoyed this event lots in the past….. it’s so lovely! A funfilled weekend of craft demonstrations, interviews and workshops on Instagram, Facebook and zoom. PLUS  the opportunity to buy direct from the 150 selected designer makers, across all craft disciplines, from all over the world!

Crafts Festival founder, Sarah James spearheads the interviews in the run up and during this event. I’m really looking forward to getting involved!

work in progress studio shot of slipware bt Sarah Monk Ceramics
Digital Craft Festival Logo
terracotta clay pots waiting to be decorated with slip in the studio of sarah monk ceramics

The Digital Craft Festival is an opportunity I would ordinarily have to pass on, what with the 3.5k class participants that pass through the doors each year at Eastnor Pottery. Now the Studio is currently closed to visitors I have more time to focus on my own work. I’m launching lots of new designs in my shop especially for the event!

 

 

slab built butterdish work in progress in the studio of sarah monk ceramics
work in progress studio shot of slipware bowls decorated with bold brown dots by sarah monk ceramics
slab built olive plate work in progress with cobalt splatters

I can’t wait to take part in the Digital Craft festival and I hope you can join me!

I will be posting on my Instagram over the weekend too @sarahmonkceramics

#digitalcraftfestival

Sarah x

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

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