New Bee Collection

Recently I became the owner of my first outdoor space, and I have to admit I was a little overwhelmed at the task of turning an empty concrete yard into a blooming garden full of plants. However I was determined to create a space to be proud of.  Three months (a lot of hard work and bags of soil) later, multiple pots and barrels were laden with shrubs, climbers and flowers. The last thing to add was a tiny wooden bee house I picked up in the local supermarket. I was sceptical any bees would come and live in this little wooden house but I popped it on the garden fence near some flowers and hoped for the best.

2nd bee pic

Only two weeks later I saw a bee flying around the tubes, much to my delight the bee was sleeping in one of the tubes at night and filling the holes with pollen from the plants by day! At the end of the summer I was the proud owner of three tubes capped off with mud, filled with pollen and baby bees!

bee house

Fast forward to the spring of the following year, two of the three tubes hatched out, and multiple bees spent the summer buzzing around our plants. Heading towards summer, this year I am happy to report we have four new tubes capped off in our little bee house.

smaller bee group

I was completely enchanted by the power of nature; this inspired me to design a new bee collection of screen printed vessels (seen above.)

Each piece has a honey colour applied to the surface using a silk screen making every one completely unique. The final touch is the sweeps of gold, hand painted onto the rims before they complete their third and final firing in the kiln.

The collection comprises of ring pots, planters, bottles and vases. To shop now click here.

Images all by Yeshen Venema (except bee house- artists own.) All images subject to copy write.

Solo exhibition launch at New Ashgate Gallery

Back in October last year I was lucky enough to be selected to exhibit at the Farnham Maltings Festival Of Crafts. At the festival, I was delighted to be selected as ‘the most exciting maker’ by the New Ashgate Gallery team. My prize was a solo exhibition to be held this year at the gallery, my first solo exhibition! Planning commenced in January 2016 to design every piece by hand.

Six months flew by making and firing work, including my new for 2016 collection of porcelain wall pieces. The launch evening was here before I knew it!

My final collection included screen printed porcelain vessels, wall pieces and wearables. Each piece hand printed through a silk screen directly onto the raw clay surface; making in this unusual way results in each piece being totally unique.

Me at my exhibition

My collection at the New Ashgate Gallery was inspired by Victorian curiosity cabinets, and the stories that surround the objects contained within. My vessels are printed with text from old dictionaries, images of beetles, mushrooms, Octopi and birds, layered with colourful stenciled slip decoration. The forms are taken from Victorian apothecary bottles often contained within the cabinets.

A selection of my porcelain screen printed vessels

The preview was a beautiful balmy Friday evening attended by makers, friends and local craft collectors. The New Ashgate Gallery is housed in a lovely Tudor building in the heart of Farnham in Surrey. Contained within is a wonderful range of contemporary craft from functional clay vessels to hand etched decorative prints.

My exhibition

I was delighted to launch my exhibition along side an exhibition of selected makers from the Crafts Council’s Hothouse six program. The Hothouse program is designed to helped emerging and early career makers develop there practice. It provides maker/ designers with skills and tools to grow a sustainable business.

The hothouse exhibition consisted of eleven makers picked from this years Hothouse program, including bold ceramic vessels from Hannah Townsend, colourful glass sculptures by Kira Meyer and fascinating articulated jewellery by Toby Cotterill.
Another favourite was Tina Macleod, who incorporates metal, textile and found objects in her captivating jewellery.

tina macelod

Rhian Malin’s delicate blue and white porcelain vessels, intricately decorated by hand, adorned one of the gallery’s Tudor window sills.

Rhian Malin

At the launch evening I was lucky enough to be introduced to Dutch born ceramist Arjan Van Dal, one of the Hothouse six participants. His simple colourful porcelain forms a great contrast to my own work.


As part of the launch evening Arjan and I both gave short talks about our inspirations and making techniques. I always find it useful to hear what inspires other artists and how they negotiate the journey of making.

If you would like to see all the work for yourself, my exhibition is on at the New Ashgate Gallery along side the selected Hothouse six makers exhibition until September 10th 2016.

Summer Studio Life

The long summer days have been quieter for me in the studio, re-grouping after trade shows in the first part of the year, packing up gallery orders secured at said shows and planning for the second half of the year before it gets really busy in the run up to Christmas.

During this time it is easy to loose motivation and drift outside to basque in the sun, and of course I must confess I had a couple of lazy days. However the lure of the kiln glow drew me back in and I have spent the last few weeks squirreled away dreaming up new pieces and testing fresh glazes. During which time it dawned on me how lucky I am to have my very own creative space in which to spend my days.

I wanted to share a glimpse into my time spent in my little space tucked away on the fourth floor of a giant old mill factory building in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter. I am looking forward to getting out and about exhibiting at six lovely shows running over the next few months, hopefully I will see you there!

The magic of the kiln

This week I have been busy making for the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair; my kiln has been in full swing. One reason I am fascinated by ceramics so much is the alchemy of what happens in the kiln. I love the moment when I crack the lid and peek inside to see what colors and textures have emerged while it has been firing to temperatures over 1200 degrees. Here are a few ‘before and after’ shots so you can see the journey each piece takes over the course of three firings in the kiln!

Craft Collaborations

We hear daily about the economic crisis deepening, budgets tightening and funds for the arts being slashed. And I am sure many other artists will know working alone in your studio can be lonely sometimes; it can be difficult to get the creative juices flowing on a dark foggy day in March. Considering all of this, as an emerging artist currently setting up a craft business I can understand why those around me think I might be slightly mad!

Yet amongst the economic gloom (and fog) there are beacons of light shining bright, championing makers and supporting emerging artists. Recently I have been lucky enough to experience this support first hand, through Design Factory.  Design Factory is a membership scheme for craft and design practitioners based in the Midlands (yes we are not Southern and we are not Northern.) An independent panel selects artists for one of six levels of membership (one has been newly added for national members) its aim is to promote artistic integrity, raise the standard of craft and design and commercially support and develop the very best designer/makers in craft practice today.

I attended one of their get togethers yesterday at the National Centre for Craft and Design, which was attended by 40+ Design Factory members.  It was a fantastic opportunity to mingle and chat with artists at all stages of their careers. I gained tips and advice for my upcoming stand at the British Craft Trade Fair (stand N64) from Stuart Akroyd who makes beautiful glass objects. Having attended the BCTF for the past 12 years he was a great source of knowledge. It was really wonderful that artists want to share their experiences and offer support to emerging makers like myself.

As part of the get together we discussed the continuous development programme Design Factory offers, most of which is free to DF members it covers basic essentials such as pricing, social media, press & PR and the chance to have a professional review of your portfolio. A particular highlight of the afternoon was Patricia Van Der Akker from The Design Trust, who gave a really engaging speech offering more support through The Design Trust. Patricia spoke in depth about artist collaborations and how to go about working with another artist and what the benefits can be.

The get together was followed by nibbles (yum) and a preview of the latest exhibition at the NCCD, ‘Synchronise’ in which Design Factory members have collaborated with each other to produce pieces of work. Synchronise is a truly amazing exhibition, showcasing some fantastic craft and design produced through collaboration in ceramics, stitch, glass, jewellery and print. Below is a few selected pieces from the exhibition (on until the 2nd June 2013.)

If I had to collaborate with another member of design factory first on my list would be Louisa Finch who produces beautiful coloured glass sculptures. I thought it would be interesting to see how ceramics and glass could be combined in a kiln…. a project for the future perhaps?!

If you are interested in applying to become a member of Design Factory, the next membership application deadline is the 1st April 2013.

The key to your heart?

This week with it being Valentines Day my key necklaces became metaphors for love, a key given as a gift between lovers is considered a symbol of unlocking the door to the heart. It is believed that the giver will be lucky in love. However keys hold many other meanings as well, so I thought I would share with you some of the symbolism behind my ceramic keys.

keys necklaces cropped

Porcelain sterling silver key necklaces

Cast from Victorian pass keys (keys that open more than one door) these ornate ceramic keys are symbols for luck, wealth and trust.

In Victorian times keys were worn as a status symbol, each key a lady wore represented a room in her home, the more keys she wore, the bigger her home.

multiple black key necklace

As a symbol of luck, a single key is among the most important, not to mention one of the oldest, of charms.

3 9ct gold mini key pins

9ct Gold single miniature ceramic key pins

As keys are used for unlocking doors, they can represent unlocking mysteries or treasures making them a symbol of mystery and power. A key can also guard a secret hidden away, symbolising trust. The gold lustre detail on the porcelain keys represents rarity and preciousness and due to the nature of my work each key is unique.

key necklaces

Porcelain keys with oxide and lustre detail sterling silver necklaces

Frozen Charlottes

After finding a tiny white china doll inside an old glass jar at the bottom of a box in an antique shop I was compelled to find out what this little doll was and where it had come from. After completing some research I found out what I had come across was a ‘Frozen Charlotte’ doll.

my doll 1

My Frozen Charlotte doll.

Frozen Charlotte is a name used to describe a specific form of china doll made between 1850 and 1920. The un-joined dolls take their name from a folk story about Fair Charlotte, which is a  cautionary tale concerning a young girl called Charlotte who refused to wrap up warmly to go on a sleigh ride to a New Year’s ball, and froze to death during the journey.

The dolls ranged in size from under an inch to 18 inches plus. The smallest dolls (like mine) were used as charms in Christmas puddings. Sometimes only glazed on the front they would float in water so children often took them in the bath.

Black FC doll

A black version of the tiny china doll.

My tiny little doll became a good luck charm; I wanted to incorporate this narrative into my work so I designed these Frozen Charlotte pins in Sterling silver and gold.  The wearer can carry the tiny doll as a good look charm on their person.

Bone china and sterling silver frozen charlotte pin

Bone china sterling silver ‘Frozen Charlotte’ pin.

gold plated and black ceramic frozen charlotte pin

Black clay gold ‘Frozen Charlotte’ pin.

Searching for Inspiration in the snow

Well here it is my first post of 2013! I have had a little break after Christmas to apply for lots of opportunities later in the year. Now I am back into the swing of making in my studio, Firstly Happy New Year, I hope it is a wonderful year for everyone.
This week I have been researching and recording inspiration, thinking about ideas for new pieces. It has been -3 degrees here so it’s been pretty chilly in my little studio. Today I went for a walk near where I live in Lincolnshire, the frost was so beautiful I discovered patterns begging to be drawn everywhere.
These are some of the pictures from my day in the snow, drawings to follow shortly!

075 063 032 061 031 015


I have been part of Project Network 2012 at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research centre in Demark for the past four weeks. It has been a fantastic experience so far; I have enjoyed the opportunity to study with other Ceramic makers from all around the world. As a group of eight makers from five countries we are producing sculptural, conceptual and functional wares, sharing skills in hand building, potting, and mould making. Working towards producing a piece of work for an exhibition in two weeks at the AppleHouse gallery here at Guldag6ergaard after which it will be display at the Grimmerhus museum of international ceramic Art. Below are a few pictures of the house, some tests for my installation and a couple of other makers at Project Network.



Glaze tests


Me in my studio space


Ben carter.


Caroline Allen.

Put it on your life list, the list you have of all the things you must do

This week I had a talk from Nina Hole one of the founders of Guldgardergard ceramic research centre where I am currently part of a residency called Project Network. What an inspiring woman, she has lead such an amazing life and has such an infectious passion for ceramics! I felt totally invigorated after listening to her speak about her approach to her work. She makes these huge fire sculptures where she fires ceramic structures on location. Seeing one of these monumental pieces being fired is now on my life to do list!

For more info: