Meet our newest and very colourful guest maker.....

Firstly please can you introduce yourself (telling us a little about your work)

Hi I’m Beth Pegler, a mum of four living and working from my home in Sheffield.  I make textile jewellery, mainly with rope.  I incorporate macramé knots into my designs and I also use embroidery threads.


Can you talk us through the process of creating a piece of your work.

A piece of jewellery will come either from an idea I have in my head of something I’d like to make or from the knot itself.  I like to try out different macramé knots and see if they’d work as a piece of jewellery. I then choose the colours of rope for each collection which I absolutely love doing.  There’s quite a repetitive nature to my work but for me I find that relaxing especially as most of my jewellery can be made whilst sitting on the sofa.  I also love putting together a photoshoot, thinking about the hair and makeup and seeing the final images up on my website. 


Where do you find inspiration?

I have lots of knot books that I like to look through and I get very excited when I find a vintage macramé book in a charity shop.  I also find Pinterest to be full of inspiring ideas.


Describe your studio or workspace.

I worked from the dining room table for many years but as the business grew it became less and less sustainable to work like that especially with the kids sharing the table for painting and Lego building etc.  So about 6 months ago we had a move around and now I have the small box room as my work space which is just fantastic. I feel so much more organised now.  It’s important for me that it’s still in my home so I can work around the kids and their nee


Who inspires you? Who are your favourite makers? Artists?

I love the work of Sheila Hicks. She is an amazing fibre artist.  Windy Chien I discovered on Instagram through her knot-a-day for a year project and she also makes the most amazing large rope installations which I am in awe of.

Grande Boules Sheila Hicks

Grande Boules Sheila Hicks

Do you have a favourite recipe you could share with us?

We do a lot of baking as a family, my kids love to bake so probably a cake, the altogether cake is so easy and delicious.


Do you have a dream or goal you’d like to share with us?

I’d like to do some collaborations in the future, maybe with a ceramicist or metal worker. Something that would allow me to incorporate other elements into my rope jewellery.  But as long as I can continue to do this as my job and make it work alongside family life then I’ll be happy.

My Creative Block

My Creative Block by Robyn Coetzee - Glass Designs

I experienced a creative block at the beginning of the year. My artistic mojo had flown off and left me clinging on tightly to old and familiar and unchallenging ideas. I felt bereft. Sounding dramatic? I guess it is but as a creative obssessive it is not a great feeling when you are feeling lost and wandering aimlessly through the new ideas desert. Don't get me wrong, I love what I make but I really wanted to come up with something entirely new and challenging.

So first of all I decided to combine my holiday with a workshop in flameworking. Woo-hoo, the journey to Tuscany was a treat, scary too, but lots of fun. I learnt about a new technique which is completely different to what I normally do.  I work with a kiln, cutting glass into shapes, layering them and heat from the kiln melts the sumptous glassy sandwich together. Flameworking involves working with a bench torch where you are manipulating the glass directly over the flame. I loved the course but concluded that it was not going to give me new skills to compliment my existing practise.

So, what now? Weeeell yes, I went on another course at the amazing Warm Glass. It's called professional development don't you know? A week long course that I had simmering on the back boiler for a few years. A course in pate de verre which is - simply put - packing 'paste of glass' onto a form. Ooh now this was exciting.  I really gelled with the technique of dib-dib-dabbing glass frit and powders onto a flat surface creating wonderful patterns that I can cut and shape into jewellery componants.  The bonus is that my studio is already equipped with all the tools and machines I need. This is now the basis of a whole new range of work using an ancient technique that fires in a kiln. Something I know about...

As a result my creativity started snowballing and I had fun with Instagram on a 100 day project, yet I only got to day 54, breaking the rules is still fun.  This process has been really useful as it forced me to do something everyday, much of the time I produced really quick charcoal and watercolour sketches which in my mind are always the best as you don't have too much time to think about it which can complicate your thoughts and mark making.  From this I produced ideas for a whole new 'Nautical' range which I am currently developing and enjoying. You can follow my progress on my instagram page or on my website too.





Guest maker - Bee Hayes from As the Crows Fly

This month we are delighted to have another guest maker join us

Ceramicist, Bee Hayes from As The Crows Fly

We thought Bee's work would sit well with all of ours and it's already flying out the door with happy customers !

She has essentially two ranges: her beautiful hand thrown and hand decorated ceramics - for that special occasion!

And a her Peacock and Partridge collection of illustrated fine bone china which is fun, retro and stylish but also very affordable .

We asked her tell us a little about herself,her work and what inspires her.

 Firstly please can you introduce yourself 

My name is Bee Hayes and my business is called As the Crows Fly. Here's a self portrait of me in one of my favourite places – the National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh – half an hour from where I grew up in Dunfermline.

I’ve been running my own business as a designer maker since the end of 2013. My work has changed so much since I started! It’s been a really exciting, evolving process. Currently I am concentrating on a few different things: hand thrown porcelain; illustrations translated into bone china ware and tea towel designs; slipcast stained porcelain. I come from a design/illustration background, having trained and worked as a fashion designer previously, so surface pattern and detail have always been really central to my work. I also love to use material objects in my own home that bring a sense of joy, satisfaction or pleasure when doing small functional things such as eating, drinking, displaying flowers or washing dishes. So, bringing affordable beauty into functional ware has always been central to my practice

slip cast stained porcelaine

slip cast stained porcelaine

This year I’m concentrating on new skills – I’ve just completed a ceramics residency in Denmark, learning the art of plaster mould making and slip casting so I’m hoping that later this year I’ll be in production with my new coloured porcelain slipcast range. It was a much more technical and design led way of working- much more like my pre-ceramics working practice.

technical drawings in Denmark

technical drawings in Denmark

I’m also exploring a subtler approach to surface interest by experimenting with new glaze effects as a contrast to my hand illustrations. Amongst all this, I also love to simply sit and draw and illustrate and I feel immense satisfaction when firing my illustrations onto fine bone china vessels from Stoke-on-Trent – that sense of a ‘perfect’ product with an identical, regulated form and pattern gives me a completely different thrill from the wares I produce from scratch from a ball of clay!

Can you talk us through the process of creating a piece of your work?

To make a hand thrown porcelain mug, like some of the pieces currently in Fig, first I weigh out a ball of clay and carefully knead it – a process called ‘wedging’ - to make the clay pliable and get rid of any air bubbles as these would expand and ruin the piece during firing. Then I centre the clay on the wheel, spinning fast, before slowing to pull up the walls of the mug and refine them to a nice smooth surface using a tool called a ‘rib.’  I set this initial vessel shape to dry off for a while until it’s ’leather hard’ – usually the next day in this weather! Then the mug form is turned upside down on the wheel and carefully trimmed using sharp tools to smooth and shape the foot. While I’m doing that I will have created handles for my mugs and set them to harden off so that when the cup is ready I can carefully affix the handle and wrap it all up to dry slowly before the first ‘bisque’ firing. The next stage is to illustrate the piece – I use a fine underglaze bottle with a nib to hand draw botanical and slightly whimsical illustrations of wild pea pods, flowers and tendrils, or dandelion leaves and seed heads around the mug. I then add some swishes of metal oxides on the linear motifs to deepen the colour in some areas before glazing in a combination of transparent and subtley coloured glazes. Finally I fire the mug to a very high temperature which makes the porcelain extremely strong and dense. I love the way porcelain really enhances the colours applied to it’s white surface, and the smooth silky finish it gives.

Hand thrown dandelion bowl

Hand thrown dandelion bowl

Where do you find inspiration?

All over the place! I love to trawl through mid century design photos, just internalizing all the colours and shapes. I’m always snapping things I like too – colour, shape, texture, packaging, architectural features, I love these shots I took of Portishead’s Art Deco lido.

I love picking my favourite plants and getting involved with really detailed drawings of them that I can then manipulate into my designs. I’m influenced by all kinds of things really from travel in far off places to fantastic exhibitions by favourite artists such as Joan Eardley, David Hockney. I love the coast – the rocks and pebbles and beach-combed treasures are all consuming while I’m there for collecting, drawing, collating, arranging. I think something that inspires and confounds me most is trying to get to the bottom of how our design brains work – what makes me see something and respond to it in such a different way to another artist or maker – always trying to push yourself to be more true to your own vision is in itself an inspiring process.


bee hayes inspiration.jpg



Who inspires you? Who are your favourite makers ?artists?


I’m really excited by a lot of contemporary makers just now. I love ceramics by Wenda Vincent, a talented studio mate and ceramicist Katharina Klug, both of whom have an enviably strong handwriting to their work.  I love the striking jewellery of Caroline Finlay and Miya Hayes. I was hugely inspired by many of the people I met while on residency in Denmark, in particular New Zealand sculptor Jim Cooper [pic. And on a larger scale, as I mentioned earlier, Joan Eardley is a permanent fave – a Scottish painter from the 1950s, very well known at home in Scotland but perhaps not so much down here. Her vision and relentless dedication to her artwork and the energy and personal interpretation she managed to bring into her landscapes and slum portraits are phenomenal. I’m also really into Peter Randall-Page just now, his sculptures, yes, but mainly his fantastically striking earth-pigment drawings.

Sculpture by Jim Cooper

Sculpture by Jim Cooper


Describe your studio or workspace?


At home I draw and illustrate and design in my overgrown garden, [pic] or my overgrown studio-office room, none of it is ergonomic or practical, all of it is messy and full of ‘things’… For my ceramics I have an equally overstuffed studio space at the fantastic Maze Studios in Barton Hill – home to an inspiring community of makers, all producing remarkably different wares and pieces, it’s a great place to be because of the people there and the amount of communal space to work outside of your own little cubby hole. In the picture my desk is full of bisque fired porcelain waiting to be hand illustrated.[pic]

Garden workspace

Garden workspace

Drawing Cowparsley

Drawing Cowparsley

workspace at Maze studios

workspace at Maze studios

Volcanic Vessels by Bee Hayes

Volcanic Vessels by Bee Hayes

Bee will be with us in Fig for at least3-6months don't miss the opportunity to come and see her stunning work. We figure you'll be sorely tempted to buy some to take home with you !

Posted by Katie Wallis




How I make jewellery from my random collections

I love making precious metal jewellery (well, thank goodness for that!) but I do love doing other things. I’ve always been a jack-of-all-trades, and a collector of hobbies (!) and sometimes these two things come together.

Last week I went on two workshops (and one was two whole days away from Bristol!) - and more on them in the future - and the second one meant taking along found objects, and general bits and bobs. I have a lot of bits and bobs! My favourites though, by a long way, are the watch parts. About 5 years ago I made a collection for the shop, Fig, which consisted of watch faces and handcut brass bees and butterflies, and in my usual way I couldn’t just buy a few old watch faces, I bought tons of them. On eBay I found several watchmakers collections being sold, and I bought lots of them! I can never quite stop myself…

A small part of my collection of watch parts!

A small part of my collection of watch parts!

So I took a long a handful or two to the workshop and included some in a piece we made, but to do this I had to rifle through rather a lot of gorgeous tiny little bits and so before I put them away again, I decided to make a few things for the shop. These are some of the greetings cards

and six pairs of earrings (though one pair already sold via Instagram at the time of typing!).

It takes a surprising amount of time to design each card or pair of earrings and by the end of the day I’d made 10 cards and the six pairs of earrings. Not a huge amount really for about 8 hours of work, but nonetheless, really satisfying and enjoyable to turn my hand to something different for a day.

Jemima Lumley