We’ve been speaking with Elle, maker & ceramicist behind SPECKLED GREY.
I was born and grew up here in Leicester. I’ve always been in love with creating, whether it’s making, drawing, sewing or painting and I’ve never stopped doing it! I’ve been making ceramics for about 7 years and in that time I’ve expanded into selling a range of vibrant, tactile mugs, vases and lighting.
What is your background in ceramics/how did you get into it?
I studied Decorative Arts at University in Nottingham where we took modules in all kinds of crafts, from metal work, to resin, to glass. One day I saw a fine white, delicate vessel in the kiln room waiting to be fired and I asked how it was made so thinly and flawlessly. The technician taught me about the slip casting method of ceramics which I had never heard of before. Ever since then I was hooked on the possibilities of the material! My final collection was a series of lights which are still in my range today. Straight after graduating I was lucky enough to receive some lighting orders for the Nando’s restaurants. That was an amazing way to enter the industry and I learned a lot. It also gave me the financial boost to get started and buy my own kiln.
How would you describe your style?
My work centres around sensitive colour combinations and satisfyingly soft, hand-carved finishes. Colour is really exciting to work with and I have an ever growing pile of colour samples in my workshop. I think I am definitely influenced by the simplicity of Japanese style and also the clean lines of midcentury design. One designer I love is Isamu Noguchi who incorporates both of these. His organic but clean shapes in sculpture, furniture and lighting are so beautiful and it’s something I try to echo in my work. My style is kind of an intuitive way of working, the shapes and colours just appeal to me and the porcelain material guides the process.
What have been your biggest achievements up to now?
Over the years my lighting collections have been installed in commercial projects such as Costa Coffee and Nando’s, and various hotels and restaurants in Europe. I have also been lucky enough to have my work in stores including Harvey Nichols and Liberty London, and exhibited at The Oxo Tower and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. These have definitely all been highlights along my journey!
What do you love most about the industry that you are involved in?
The makers industry has to be one of the most supportive there is! A lot of us are working by ourselves and rely on groups and collaboration to connect with others. These meet ups are always full of amazing individuals and whose conversation can be really important for new ideas and motivation. I’ve worked for many years in the wider ceramics industry and have almost always worked for other ceramicists alongside my own work, which I quite like as it keeps me learning and meeting new people. I’m traditionally trained as a delftware painter at a small studio in Oxfordshire where I produce bespoke, finely painted ware for their private clientele. More recently I also joined the team of artisans at Sue Pryke’s studio, a Leicestershire ceramicist with a reputation for creating beautiful everyday dinnerware. As a maker you can spend a lot of time working solo in your studio so it’s good to get out and help others with their productions too!
What’s your favourite part about owning a local, independent business?
The people that I’ve met whilst working as an independent in Leicester is probably my favourite part of doing this job in this city. There are so many creative and supportive people here and the independent business scene is vibrant and resilient. For a small city with industrial roots, there is a lot of creativity happening and that’s amazing to see!