In the tea garden

18 August, 2014

Over the last few months, along with other things, I’ve been working on developing a new range of teabowls which will feature various complementary glazes.

There’s something very special about the teabowl, with it’s handle-less form, that seems to make you engage with the vessel, and its contents, more intensely. It’s a simple concept but can be created and recreated in so many ways, shapes and sizes.

Elaine Bolt - teabowls

The teabowl has, of course, a very long tradition and association with Japanese ceramics. However, I decided to develop my teabowl shape as an extension of the rounded vessels that I already produce. Using this as a starting point, I then extend the base into a gently sloping but pronounced foot. It’s not the most ‘traditional’ shape for a teabowl perhaps, but it represents and evolution from my existing designs towards a specifically ‘functional’ form.

Elaine Bolt - Green crackle teabowl

I have produced examples in a variety of glazes and clays, including green crackle and pale speckled white glazes on porcelain, produced in a reduction firing. I’ve added the iron oxide details on the sides that I use on other forms to provide subtle decoration and highlight line marks scored in the soft clay.

Elaine Bolt - White speckle & green glaze teabowls

Unglazed dark terracotta versions of the same shape also provide a strong contrast to the milky white porcelain.

Elaine Bolt - Dark terracotta teabowls

Alongside the teabowls, I also made a range of bottles which subtly complement them. Influenced more by the ceremony of the British cuppa than anything else; the bottle shapes I’ve made take their cue from the rather stout form of old-fashioned glass milk bottles. But the form also aims to reflect the shape of the teabowls I make; with the mouth of the bottles mirroring the profile of the foot of the cups.

Elaine Bolt 'milk' bottles

These stoneware versions I made illustrate the connection of the two forms quite strongly.

Elaine Bolt stoneware cup and bottle

Despite not often seeking out functional forms in my work, I’ve found a strange delight in making these clearly functional-inspired pieces. Though they may, or may not, be used as such by any future owners. It is this exploration of an idea of a form that lies behind the work of so many ceramicists.

So I’m hugely excited about the forthcoming Oxford Ceramics Gallery ‘Teabowl’ exhibition in October. I feel even more honoured that I will have teabowls of my own in this exhibition. My pieces will be amongst many, including some very exalted names in the world of Ceramics, in what will prove to be a very varied and fascinating mix of styles based on one simple idea.

I can’t wait.

Oxford Ceramics Teabowl exhibition

Oxford Ceramics Teabowl exhibition

Designer Crafts 2014

30 December, 2013

So 2013 has been an exciting year for developing and exhibiting my work. My first full year of business since completing my MA has been a pretty busy one. I got back in the studio today after a short break and am busy working on some new ideas and pieces. There’s lots to look forward to in 2014 and it’s starting well, with the first Crafts Council Hothouse event next week and a fantastic show in London starting soon after.

I will have a selection of my work available at the Designer Crafts 2014, ‘Shop within the Show’, organised by the Society of Designer Craftsmen. Come to the Mall Gallery from the 10th January to see ceramics, furniture, glass, jewellery, metal, mixed media, textiles and wood by both established, and emerging, designer-makers.

My pieces will include a selection of celadon vessels and some rather cute sets of tiny pots and spoons.


The show will be at The Mall, London SW1 and runs from Friday 10th to Sunday 19th January 10am to 5pm (closing at 4pm on the 19th).

Designer Crafts 2014

Setting off

3 November, 2013

This week I’m packing up all my best pieces, and heading off to show my work at two fantastic events:

I have some new ideas to share as well as my range of vessels and other objects. Here are some images of pieces for the shows, fresh out of the kiln.

See below for details of both shows, including venue location, opening times, and tickets.

I hope to see you there!

Handmade in Britain – 8th-10th November

handmade in britain

The show features over 100 exhibitors in all disciplines including furniture, jewellery, textiles, ceramics and glass – all with a focus on quality and craftsmanship.

I will be exhibiting as part of their ‘New Graduate Showcase’ a celebration of new talent in a dedicated gallery within the show.

As well as my work, the showcase will feature 4 other emerging makers and designers in the field of contemporary crafts. These include textile designer Amanda Gibbs; jeweller Anna Byers, glass artist Peter Kucerik and interior accessories designer Felix Proctor.

A pdf of the flier with location and contact details can be viewed by clicking here: HandmadeinBritaineflyer

Venue: Chelsea Old Town Hall, King’s Road, London, SW3 5EE
Opening Times: 11:00 – 19:00 Friday 8th; 11:00 – 18:00 Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th November
Admission Prices: One day: £7, Concessions: £5. There is an online early bird offer of £5


Art in Clay Farnham – 16th-17th Nov.

art in clay logoArt in Clay Farnham 2013

Art in Clay at Farnahm Maltings is a dedicated ceramics fair, showcasing some of the finest ceramics currently being made by individual makers in the UK and Europe.

There will be a range of work from newly qualified artists working in clay, to potters with many years of creative work behind them.

Venue: The Maltings, Bridge Square, Farnham Surrey, GU9 7QR
Opening Times: 10am – 5pm Saturday 16th; 10am – 4.30pm Sunday 17th November
Admission: Adult £5 Concession £4.50 Children 15yrs and under go free


I’ve just sent off a selection of pieces to the Junction Art Gallery in Woodstock (Oxfordshire).

Elaine Bolt vessel group

It might be the name Woodstock making me feel wistful and reflective (and just a little bit cheesy), but I love having pieces at a new gallery, it makes me look at my work in a fresh light. In choosing pieces to send, I need to put together a selection that works well together, and that fits with both mine and the gallery’s approach. This often has the knock-on effect of making me reassess the pieces I have available and what I plan to make next.

I’ve also been working on how I’m represented online. So, I’ve just updated some images and info on the fantastic Craft Finder website and bought a new domain name for my own website: (you’re already here). I’m also working on building up a small collection of work available through the new online shop Home of Artisans.

I still have lots of other places where my work is represented that could do with some refreshing and I’ll keep working on that. But for now I’ve got to get myself back to the garden

Elaine Bolt CeramicsI’m getting my work ready for Earth and Fire at Rufford in Nottinhamhsire next week. I’ve got a fresh batch of pieces out of the kiln and I’m looking forward to displaying my pots alongside some of my ‘curious utensils’. If you’re in the neighbourhood, come along to see over 100 potters all in one place.

Earth and Fire 2013 Banner

Bircham Gallery

12 May, 2013

A selection of my work will shortly be available at the Bircham Gallery in Holt in Norfolk. The gallery has a fantastic selection of contemporary studio ceramics along with a wide range of  crafts and artwork.

The pieces I’m sending include some of my celadon vessels, my grouped compositions and the reduction fired terracotta vessels that I named ‘Dark Metal’.

The terracotta I use turns a dark chocolate colour through the reduction firing process and gains a kind of metallic quality to the surface. I love the contrast between these pieces and the light celadon glazes. The compositions I’ve produced bring both elements together in a single grouping.

Elaine_Bolt_Waiting composition detail

Shiny pots in the kilnI’ve now had two firings to cone 10 in my new kiln. The first one contained lots of pots that didn’t matter if things went wrong. Luckily, things went fairly well, but it got a bit exciting when the floor started to burn! I carried on firing to the end, and a friend said this showed true commitment to ceramics. That, or some kind of madness. With new fireproof flooring down, the second firing was a nail biting experience as the kiln contained lots of good pots with places to go to. This time, the gas bottle threatened to freeze, but some quick internet searching for solutions helped me keep it going. This firing was different to the first; less fire, more ice; less gas, but a faster climb in temperature. Gas kilns just seem to have their own idea about how its going to go. And I’ve still got a lot to learn, so its always a bit of ‘fingers crossed’.

Once the cones were down there was nothing to do but wait for it all to cool, and I hate waiting. But this morning I was rewarded with an array of shiny, and matt, little vessels looking up at me as I lifted the lid. As with all gas firings, there was quite a bit of variation in the temperature and reduction throughout the kiln. Some spots closer to the flame weren’t as well reduced as others and there was a cone difference in temperature between bottom and top shelves which meant a difference between milky/satin and clear/shiny glazes for some pots. But I like the variation, and the overall verdict is very positive I think. Some of the pots must now be packed up and sent out and its a little hard to let go of them. I feel a bit emotional about them, they’re my kiln’s first litter.

'Dark Metal' and Celadon vessels being unpacked

Celadon Series

23 February, 2013

Elaine Bolt, 'Dwelling' vessels - group of sevenThis week I fired another group in my series of celadon vessels. The firing went very smoothly, and the pots came out looking good. I’m still sharing space in a fellow potter’s kiln until I get my own one set up. But for now, with small batches of pots, this is working out very well. This firing contained two styles of vessels that I call ‘Dwelling’ and ‘Within’, all with the same celadon glaze recipe. Even though there are ‘families’ of pots here, each one is different with unique markings and variation in shape and tone. The glaze also produces subtle variations depending on the thickness of the glaze and its placing in the kiln. In some pieces, the glaze is quite frosty and in others it has shinier, glassier tendencies.

I’ve taken some photographs of the pots today. This helps me to assess the pieces as well as forming a record of the work. The natural light wasn’t as good as I would have liked, but I think I just about got away with it. I’ve been playing around with trying black backgrounds and grey backgrounds. I also tried adding other ‘props’ including pebbles, though I’m not sure I’m so keen on that style.

I often like to have photos of the vessels in groups – for me, they seem to want to cluster together, almost as if for comfort and security. There’s an element of anthropomorphism in seeing them that way, but for me, vessels do seem to have that connection with us as people, as well as with each other.

Elaine Bolt 'Dwelling' vessel

Elaine Bolt ‘Dwelling’ vessel

New Direction in Contemporary Crafts, preview invite

I’ve just been to the beautiful Mottisfont Abbey to deliver some of my vessels for the upcoming show New Directions in Contemporary Crafts. The exhbition is being held at, Mottisfont Abbey – a lovely National Trust property in Hampshire.

The show will feature work by new applied arts graduates like myself, alongside some amazing established makers. These include Gabriel Koch; Carina CiscatoValeria NascimentoStart Cairns; Emeline Hastings; the wonderful work of artist Nora Fok and collaborative work by Ismini Samanidou and Sharon Blakey.

The show opens on the 1st December and runs until the 27th January 2013.

More details about the show can be found here on the Crafts Council site.

Box of Delights

26 October, 2012

Yesterday was an exciting day. The opening of the kiln to find wonderful delights inside.

The kiln had fired beautifully with a good reduction. All the glazes I used came out well. It’s a rare moment in ceramics and must be relished.

I need to sort through my new selection of vessels and start to take some good images. In the interim, here’s a sneak preview…