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  • A Cast of Characters | Ellen Hayward
  • Post author
    Caitlin Daw

A Cast of Characters | Ellen Hayward

A Cast of Characters | Ellen Hayward

Ellen Hayward is a ceramicist based in Whistable on the East Kent coast. She studied textile design at Bath School of Art, specialising in weaving, and continues to work as a textile designer alongside her own ceramics practice, enjoying the contrasts and many cross overs between the two disciplines.

Using a mixture of sophisticated techniques including slip casting, hand modelling, sgraffito drawing and slipware glazes, Ellen creates folk-art inspired designs that will bring a smile each time the candles are lit.

Designs include The Blue Poodle, The Blue Cat, The Blue Hare, The King & Queen and The Swirling Skirt Lady. They are all individual so can be mixed or matched to create your very own cast of characters.

The collection first consisted of smudgy blues and soft white glazes, referencing ‘blue and white’ china, from 17th century Delft blue to the deep indigo seen on English Transfer-ware from the 18th century.

Stripes, swirls, dots, dashes and oak leaves can all be seen decorating the surfaces, painted and carved into the wet ‘slip’ revealing the white glaze beneath.

Monochrome versions of her popular blue and white designs were subsequently introduced, introducing us to some new characters, including the Bear and the Fox.

The Bear quickly became a new favourite here at The Shop Floor Project, with his furry-white belly, stripy top hat and sleepy expression.

Look closely at The King and the influence of Ellen’s profession as a textile designer can clearly be seen in his patterned jumper.

Ellen has always maintained a love of illustration and likes to think of her work as three-dimensional prints, using brush work and sgraffito techniques to achieve a bold, graphic quality to her pieces.

Her work explores a fondness for character and includes influences from lino cuts, English slipware pottery, and children’s book illustration.

Each candlestick holder created exclusively for The Shop Floor project is made in Ellen’s small garden studio. The main body for each design is slip cast in white earthenware using handmade plaster moulds created from original models.

Smaller details such as ears, arms and crowns are then modelled onto these forms by hand. Each piece is hand painted, applying several layers of coloured slip and underglaze to build a clear design on the surface of the clay.

Finally, using a pointed tool details are drawn into the coloured slip revealing the contrasting white clay beneath.

“This process is enjoyably methodical but also intuitive in how it explores the transfer of two-dimensional patterns onto a three-dimensional surface, and by  combining slip cast forms with hand modelling and decorating techniques each piece is given its own character.”

Developing the collection further together, latest additions include The Juggler Candelabras - joyful, larger candleholders, with two arms and decorated in bold green or pink colourways.


  • Post author
    Caitlin Daw