The Ceramics Studio

Practice & Persistence

Artist in Residence, Inspirations, Uncategorized, Workshops 2 Comments »
Pottery, Ceramics, classes, workshops, craft, warwickshire, Beginners, nervous,
Leyla Folwell 2009

As our ‘Geeks Support Group’ takes off I ve been thinking a lot about my early potting years.

I started my career in evening classes while I shovelled pasties by day. Eventually breaking away from the 9-5 (7-7!!) and going to University to study it for three glorious years.

Above is a shot of me making my spiral sculptures in 2009 after an inspiring trip to India. The space in at the bottom of my parents garden and you can see by my layering it was freezing! Also, I went to great lengths not to ruin the T&G : )

Pottery, Ceramics, classes, workshops, craft, warwickshire, Beginners, nervous, Leyla Folwell
‘Gaya’ – terracotta, slips & glaze

I ve found all different spaces and ways to make over the years. Often doing residencies, being lucky to get jobs with workshop space included.

It s often not easy to keep it going. A class is great to start, to learn, but once you are up and running you want to make decisions about materials and firing types. That is how our Geeks courses started. After a few years here in Ettington Park I found I was having more and more conversations with people about moving on, choosing their own style, and setting up. So I formalized it in to a ‘Setting Up at Home’ workshop.

‘Practice & Persistence’ – a sculpture I made inspired by my students struggles

Now that we have run that several years running we have a lot of students at various stages and so now we have formed a support group for sharing ideas, problems and eating cake.

I am now working on a selection of different workshops in response to the needs that have come up in these sessions. I am really enjoying moving my lesson planning to another level.

We ll keep you posted, make sure you are on our Mailing List.

Leyla x

What a difference a break makes…

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What a difference a day makes… a celebration of Slow

The ceramics process is a slow conveyor belt. Once you start a body of work then it has many stages and it takes weeks to see your results.

When you times that by our 50 or so regular students and other one off sessions that its one big ol’freight train moving along.

Interestingly I have always rather enjoyed the pauses that the academic world works to. I also love the fresh start of a new year providing a pause and a checking to see I am steering in the right direction. Now that we are up to maximum capacity I feel it is essential to stop completely in the studio. For us its necessary to to jobs cleaning, clearing and repairing and even us all sitting together for a meeting.

Three times a year we stop, clear the decks, assess and breath. Its such a contrast to term time. I will never try and convince you it is stressful jobs but it does feel like a huge commitment when you have all those excited students working on their he-ART projects. There is a pressure to deliver and we take massive pride in providing a really quality and caring service. Term time feels like we are leaning in and pushing a big boulder but and it s now a lot more fun with such a wonderful team, I cannot imagine it could get better than what we have now.

I am very grateful for all the help I get from staff and volunteers. There’s so much to be done from endless cleaning, tedious admin, kiln packing, materials preparing and magic in our little garden.


I just did a quick calculation and I believe it takes nearly 100 woman hours to deliver our 21 hours of classes each week… no wonder it is so good! ; )

Anyway, I am a massive believer in the pause. It is so important to stop and step back, I know my team enjoy the change too and I believe it opens up space to allow us to be creative. There space for ideas to show up, re-alignment and I always get a fresh application of my job. Like many Brits I used to have the stoic attitude of being seen to work constantly, and to battle through a cold; but I ve totally 360 my out look. A cold is a sign to ease off and compact working hours are efficient. Last year I read ‘A year of living Danishly’ by Helen Russell is an interesting read. The Danes believe in down time as a right and the frown on over-working believing you are failing to manage your time properly. According to Helen Russell they work an average of 18.5 days a month, 37 hours a week, and do 8am-4pm and a half day on a Friday!

57% of Danes said they would carry on working if they won the lottery and I think I would too : )

If you know us, you’ll know how busy we have become, and several people have asked me why don’t I open for more evenings, another branch or start a franchises. Here s my Answer…..

1 MIN READING: The fisherman and the businessman

2016 – highs n lows and there you go!

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Life happens here at The Ceramics Studio….

2016 went by so quickly! So here is a brief zip though what has passed ….

Our most senior potter : )

A place to get things of your ‘bucket list’…..

Our pottery family

A place to make new friends : )

Ghost Pottery Moment

This year I lived out my dream and ran a ‘Ghost’ themed valentines night,

a good way to start the year!

Pottery experience

Ghost Pottery Moment

And it ended with candle making – a way to pimp your old pottery and

feel all christmassy with it!


Christmas candle making social

Candle Making

Karen’s birthday – where else would she go!?

Lots of celebrating happens here.

2016 was the year we sold every bit of You Thom’s work!

Yo Thom Pottery

We also had beautiful prints by Tammy Woodrow of

Tammy Woodrow visits The Ceramics Studio

Team Building with Mark Making

The fabulous Mark Making of Chipping Norton came and had a

Throw Down style Team Building day.

They are used to more clean creativity

Sampada – our website genius runs her very own paper-clay jewellery session!

Our very own Sampada ran a gorgeous little jewellery workshop

Tim Collard at The Ceramics Studio

The very lovely Timothy Collard started helping out in between making

his wonderful creations

Chloe sleeping in a bucket of towels – there s sausage involved in this story.

In November we said goodbye to Chloe the dog, her sofa snoozing

and bag inspecting days are done : (

Jodie had a beautiful baby girl called Fearn and we did her foot prints : )

Susan O’Grady joins us for Raku

Artist Susan O’Grady joined us for Raku and made these beautiful birds

Not only did Holly get all our admin under control,

she made these wonderful nest of bowls!

Leyla takes a leaf out of Rhian’s book and hits the production line! gets a re-vamp for 2017

Chilling out with my favorite pottery and Downton Abbey.

Despite all that, here is always some precious down time and it includes

at teapot by Akiko and a plate from Dylan

Happy New Year! Leyla xx

Hotting up in the snow

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The Ceramics Studio

Ahhh…. look how pretty the studio looked on Tuesday morning!

So nice to drive past all this beautiful frozen countryside

and then come in to the cozy studio.

Ceramics Studio

The week classes have filled up! It has been really lovely

to have a good bunch of people together…. a really nice

mixture of back grounds all united in a love of the sticky stuff : )

Pottery Class

Fiona runs a river cruise boat company in beautiful

Stratford and she s a wonderful photographer.

She s taking photo s for the new look website by Studio Classes

Everyone is happily working on their own independent projects.

Pottery Class

Evgenia is an amazing illustrator. Visit her website blog

and get your free calendar… it s so cute!

Stratford upon Avon

She s a real pro-active net-worker and organized

a super Creative Breakfast this week.  It was a real

treat to get out of the studio and meet more local artists….

looking forward to next months : )

Inspired by… Pattern!

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Some beautiful patterns I’ve been admiring lately.

leo lionni
Detail from ‘Tiko and the Golden Wings’ by Leo Lionni

Pattern by Marimekko

helen dardik
Floral pattern by Helen Dardik

1960s curtain fabric

lori ellison
‘Untitled’ 2011 by Lori Ellison

And find more stunning pattern on our Pinterest board.

Inspired by… Nature

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Get inspired by the amazing form, colour and texture of the natural world…

Agate by Pascal Petit

Monitpora Digitata by Boris_44

Lichen by Leenda K

Ricordia Coral by Neil Creek

Yellowstone Hot Pots by The American West Photography

Find more stunning shots from nature on our Pinterest board.

I am… Ann!

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The lovely Ann Mercer shares some of her inspirations in a new blog post in our “I Am…” series.

I am… Ann Mercer and I am…

making… as many pieces as possible for exhibitions and shops.

seeing… wonderful autumn colours, terra cotta, yellow, red and charcoal.

autumn colours

visiting… imminently Hong Kong, Sydney and Kuala Lumpur. Lots of inspiration!

reading... Wilkie Collins, “The Woman in White”. I love Gothic novels.

inspired by… Sottsass and the whole Memphis Movement.


not… experimenting much at the moment, just working to improve quality and finish of the current collection.

learning… so much associated with setting up a new business, the time that admin takes, the price of packaging and couriers and the stress of fulfilling specific orders on time!

working with… the Ceramics Studio in the Biscuit Factory and very much appreciate Leyla allowing me time to use the spray booth and kilns and her wonderful positive attitude and support.

Ann Mercer vases

(Images: autumn colours by romansolar, Carlton by Ettore Sottsass Jr, Ann Mercer’s own work)

Inspired by…. Colour!

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The skies are getting greyer and the evenings are getting darker… so here’s a bright and beautiful collection of images from around the web to put you in a colourful mood!

ai weiwei
Coloured Vases by Ai Weiwei

Garnet Peridotite - photograph by Bernardo Cesare
Garnet Peridotite – photograph by Bernardo Cesare

pots by anthropologie
Colourful pots by Anthropologie

snow forest 32
Snow Forest 32 by Nadja Gabriela Plein

jane booth
Painting by Jane Booth

totem by daniel einnamorato
Totem by Daniel Einnamorato

Images taken from our Pinterest – where you can find more lovely images to put you in a bright mood!