About

I am a ceramicist based in Limehouse, East London. I work from the small studio at the bottom of my garden, where I have a wheel and small kiln. All of my ceramics are hand-thrown and fired.

I studied English Literature at Oxford University, before working in the City for several years. I am also a writer (as yet unpublished, aside from short stories). I am currently a student on the Creative Writing MA at UEA, where I have been awarded the Malcolm Bradbury scholarship.

I am particularly inspired by Scandinavian / Japanese ceramics, and their clean, modern forms. I also enjoy experimenting with the effects of various clays, for example speckled clay, and the different effects, patterns and textures which can be made by using slip and wax resist. While I aim for my work to look aesthetically pleasing, functionality is more important to me. I love the idea of my ceramics serving a practical purpose and becoming a part of someone’s daily life and routine. I use high-fire stoneware so everything is completely durable and dish-washer proof - everything you see I use in my own home.

In addition to selling ceramics via my online shop, I often have stalls at fairs. Please do get in touch to find out more about my ceramics and to discuss commissions.

Each piece for sale in the shop is entirely handmade and bears the marks of this. I prefer to work without the constraints of measuring gauges or calipers, which does mean that each item varies slightly in size or shape. What this does mean is that each item truly is unique, and people tend to connect much more with a piece which they feel to be truly 'theirs'.

Thanks so much for your interest in my ceramics - it means so much to me.

Elizabeth

PS - photograph above taken by Sandra Seaton

Why 'Limehouse Ceramics'?

Not only do I live in Limehouse, but Limehouse derived its name from the lime kilns in the area. Several centuries ago, it was filled with clay dust, potteries and kilns, all manufacturing ceramics for the shipping companies and ships in the East End docks.

It was also a site of real ceramic innovation. 108-116 Narrow Street, a building on the lip of the Thames, was a small factory which pioneered the use of English porcelain in 1745-1748. Given that the methods and ingredients for soft-paste porcelain were only discovered in 1742, it will have been one of the very first porcelain workshops in London. At site excavations, they found porcelain fragments in bone-white and with a pale blue underglaze.

I love to think that I live and work so close to where clay and pottery were manufactured through history - and I can be a very small part of the continuing pottery trade in the area.

Where did you learn to make ceramics?

My Great Aunt Barbara is an incredible potter, and it's this that really inspired me to have a go. I took a weekly evening class in ceramics for 10 weeks in summer 2015 and was quickly hooked. As I was cautious about taking the financial leap from beginner to potter-with-own-kiln, I joined Turning Earth for a month, which convinced me even more that it was something I wanted to give a real try. Since then, I’ve commandeered my husband's ‘man cave’ in the garden and turned it into my pottery studio – not entirely without protest!

Do you sell via retailers?

I am currently working with several retailers who are looking to stock my ceramics. However, given that I like to keep my ceramics affordable and my profit margins are very slim, selling at wholesale price can be difficult for me. Please do ask for more details, however, as I am always interested in stockists!

How do you make ceramics?

Making each piece is a pain-staking and lengthy process, which I also happen to love! First, clay has to be wedged by hand to remove air bubbles and make sure it is a consistent texture throughout. After this, I cut and weigh each piece depending on the item I'm making. I throw each piece by hand on the wheel, cut it off the wheel with wire, and leave it to dry for around a day. Once it is leather hard, I fix it back into the centre of the wheel with four soft chunks of clay, and use trimming tools to add a foot ring and remove any imperfections. After trimming, I can add handles or any surface texture without worrying that the pot will warp - it is quite firm at this stage. I often add surface decoration such as chevrons using coloured slips, as these are much more precise than glazes, which often run.

I then leave the clay for around two weeks to dry out slowly, often under perforated covers. It has to be completely bone dry before it is ready to be biscuit fired to 900C, as otherwise it will explode or crack in the kiln. A biscuit firing  in the kiln takes around 24 hours, and this removes all water and ensures it is ready to be glazed. The bottoms of the pots need to be painted with a wax resist, which means that no glaze will stick to them - otherwise they would fuse to the kiln furniture. I mix up glazes by hand, and either dip or paint the glaze on, before firing a second time to 1240C. This second firing takes around 30 hours, and the clay fuses to the glaze to create a glossy, even finish.

During the course of the process, the clay has shrunk at every stage. By the time the finished piece comes out of the kiln, I usually find it has shrunk by 30-50% of the size I originally threw.

Do you offer returns?

While I hope that you will be very happy with your ceramics, I do offer returns for online purchases if you are not entirely satisfied with your order. Please notify me within 10 working days (info@limehouseceramics.com) and return the item within 15 working days. I will process the refund (with postage costs deducted) as soon as the order is received in the same condition in which it was sent. Please note that the parcel is your responsibility until I receive it, so please request proof of delivery from your post office and make sure it is securely packaged. Unfortunately I cannot cover return postage costs.

In the unlikely event that the item is received in broken or damaged condition, please send me a photograph within 2 days of receipt to info@limehouseceramics.com and I will replace or refund it (and I will cover the delivery costs), depending on your preference.

There is something which I love on your Instagram but isn't in your shop.

There are a number of items which I create as one-off experiments, but which I’m not sure about creating long term. However, if there is an item that you like on Instagram, please do let me know as if it is still available, you may be able to purchase it directly – and I can also understand interest and make more of this item.