SARAH MONK | REVELLING IN THE EASYGOING FEEL OF A COUNTRY POTTER




Sarah Monk
For the last 6 months, I have been developing a new a collection. My small batch studio ceramics feature new colours, new clay, new techniques, new slips and new glazes. 

Creating the collection has been a winter evening pursuit, when our busy studio is closed to customers. By day we offer Pottery Experiences and have been doing so for the last 24 years. Having just a few hours at the end of a busy day really focuses the creative process for me!

I am a designer-maker specialising in functional ceramics to fit comfortably in the home, particularly the kitchen (my favourite room in our house).


Breakfast has been my starting point; berry bowls and spoons, toast racks and knife rests, egg cups with decorative storage boxes and bowls of all shapes and sizes. The whole range is mix and match.

When making my own work, my approach is relaxed and playful

Growing up, my Mum collected Watcombe Pottery. Over the years she managed to collect more than 400 pieces and they overflowed from two dining room dressers in our kitchen. I remember showing it to my school friends and enjoyed reading all the sgraffito sayings and looking at the vibrant slip-trailed patterns. My plan this year has been to fill a dresser at Eastnor Pottery with my own slipware designs, revelling in the easygoing feel of a country potter. In fact, I have already filled this dresser…..maybe I need to get a second one too!

Work in progress
When making my own work, my approach is relaxed and playful, and I hope this translates through to the finished pieces. I love our studio workshop and make full use of our facilities; from the electric potter’s wheels to the table spaces for hand-building and modelling - whatever takes my fancy! Slips are brushed on, sgraffito designs drawn into the surface and sprigs applied, making the pieces tactile, a deliberate consideration. I restrict my palette to blue and white slip on terracotta clay; it links everything together and has a country cottage appeal. All of my making happens at the wet clay stage. After a biscuit firing, I don’t add anything else to the surface except for a simple lead-free glaze.

I co-own Eastnor Pottery and The Flying Potter with my husband, Jon Williams. We met at Bath, where we both graduated with a BA(Hons) in Ceramics. I began my career producing a bright yellow range of functional, yet whimsical ceramics and sold them in many galleries across the UK. I made a series of bee-covered teapots, one of which ended up in a touring exhibition called ‘Time for Tea’ by the British Council. 

I feel it is a privilege to be able to guide them through the creative process… everybody achieves!


When we founded Eastnor Pottery in 1994, our plan was to offer one-day and weekend workshops at our studio (for up to 8 participants at a time). The studio is perfectly located on a beautiful country estate in Herefordshire and is an idyllic rural retreat for our participants.


Jon does most of the Flying Potter side to our business; facilitating workshops in the wider community. I oversee the activities at Eastnor Pottery, including our extremely popular drop-ins. I love it! A go on a potter’s wheel is an unforgettable experience for children and adults alike. Each visitor has their own special story and reason for visiting us. I feel it is a privilege to be able to guide them through the creative process… everybody achieves! As a growing business, we take on young apprentices and train them to also facilitate workshops.


Sarah Monk vase
“Ceramic practice at Eastnor is re-defining the role of the contemporary potter - putting a value on activity just as much as product” Paul Vincent.


In 1997, writer and critic Paul Vincent highlighted how the “ceramic practice at Eastnor is re-defining the role of the contemporary potter - putting a value on activity just as much as product”. Since then, as a team, we have taught pottery to thousands of people of all ages and abilities across the country and we are not stopping any time soon. 




All photos by Kirsty Pye.


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