Bee Themed Ceramic Work produced at Eastnor Pottery by Sarah Monk Williams

Pretty much everything Sarah makes is functional. It gives her great pleasure when customers express their delight in regularly using her work. Objects include: toastracks, eggcups lemon squeezers, cutlery drainers and ceramic spoons. Sarah Monk Williams Explaining the various Pottery techniques used at Eastnor Pottery

Inspiration is drawn in part from nature and from an interest in Victorian art pottery. Sarah’s father collects antique china, so she grew up surrounded by weird and wonderful objects from history. An ornate ceramic wig stand from the Victorian era comes to mind!

The decorative images drawn from nature are slightly stylised, often humorous, cartoon-like representations.

Sarah employs a variety of techniques to produce Her work. Jugs, mugs and bowls start their life on the potter’s wheel. After turning, the leather hard ware is decorated with bees, bugs and other grubs. These are press moulded in tiny plaster sprig moulds and attached using the scratch & slip method.

Bee themed jugs made at Eastnor Pottery by resident potter and co-owner Sarah Monk WilliamsSarah enjoys working with plaster, often devoting one or two days a month to sprig mould development. Firstly, she makes a series of low relief clay models. Sarah then surrounds each model with wet, clay, walls and seal all the joins. The plaster is mixed and poured into all the models at the same time and left to set. When the plaster is ‘cheesy’ she removes the clay and carefully fettle each individual mould to remove all undercuts. The fettling process takes quite a long time and a few ‘dry runs’ with scrap clay being pressed into the mould to check release. When Sarah is satisfied, the plaster mould is dried thoroughly and put into production.Toast Rack with Bee decorations made by Eastnor Pottery Co-Owner Sarah Monk Williams

The rest of Sarah’s work is slab built. Initially, the clay is rolled out in large sheets. Card templates are used to cut the wet slab to produce enough sides for a butter dish, or whatever it is she is making. The elements are left to go leather hard and then assembled. Sprigs, blobs and modelled finials are attached and the completed piece left to dry.