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Blog Posts (4)

  • Why is handmade so expensive?

    Knowing my worth and reflections on a challenging first two years We spend money everyday on things and often don't really consider the cost. I thought I would share some perspective with the everyday items below, which of course can and do differ depending on where you buy them. Eating out curry for two - £60 Large portion of Fish and Chips - £8 Parking for two hours in an average town - £5 Fancy coffee oh and don't forget the flapjack - £7 Hair - wet cut - £26 Kitchen roll pack of 2 - £3.50 Strawberries - £3 One of the hardest challenges I faced when becoming a maker was knowing what to charge for my items. Items that I had spent days designing and weeks making. Having left nursing to follow my dream I needed to make a good enough income in order to have any chance of making this way of living sustainable. But I lacked the confidence in doing this, bizarrely sometimes even feeling guilty for people paying me, I also hadn't considered many of the hidden costs in running a small creative business. Obviously, when any new business starts out there are the set up and ongoing fees for website, online shop, marketing, business insurance and public liability, tools, materials for making, branding, materials for packing and shipping, machinery, servicing, repairs, electricity, gas, payment charges, and training to name a few. I once heard a tutor at college say, you'll never find a rich the time I thought this to be dismissive and thought actually with the right approach and business sense anything is possible. But has my viewed changed? I'm now 18 months into my pottery business, its been challenging with a pandemic being declared ( 2 months after setting up). The repercussions of Brexit (I have lost a lot of EU custom due to increases in shipping and VAT charges as well as delays in customs). The USA has always been good for business but small parcel shipping has increased 50% with the cheapest parcel costing £25 to send. Some materials have been hard to source in a timely and cost effective way, with cost increases in some of my glazes, delays in receiving my orders. A current worry is the increase in electricity prices, potentially increasing by 60% per ceramic firing (all of my work has two firings, some three, each firing lasts typically 12 hours), thats a lot of electricity. Trade orders kept me busy, more than busy at times, often not having a day off in a week, but that kept the wolves from the door, its been a great way to gain experience and get my work out there and get notice, so I'm grateful for that. Some days even at times weeks have gone by with no sales on my website or through selling platforms. its reassuring to hear from other creatives I have connected with that this is all very normal especially in the first year or so, that consumer spending changes all the time and you need to ride those waves and keep making and preparing for busier times. It’s knowing you customers too, if I have a run of wet and stormy days my sales go up, if it’s sunny then to be honest I’m best off heading out and enjoying that sunshine too! It’s been hard to adjust to fluctuating income when for my career to date I have had set monthly salaries. But, once I got my head around that it’s been easy to work with. At times I have felt paralysed by fear, there have been many tears, what if I couldn't make this happen? But I kept on confidently as possible moving in the direction I wanted to go. When deciding on pricing I admit I got it wrong, at times I think I barely made a profit, if at all. I would often resort to google and see what other similar items where costing. This is not always useful, as many well know pottery business aren't small batch, they are made in huge warehouses and factories but the brand presents as a small country business and thus customers are likely to compare. They are able to market well, package well, provide customers with good deals and offer sales regularly. On the other hand you have items marketed as designed in the UK, but are in fact made out of the UK and are cheaply produced in countries such as China. To the average consumer these differences are not always glaringly obvious. As an independent artisan, I am doing everything from dreaming up the concept; testing, making, sanding, firing, glazing, lustre firing, photography, listing the products on website/selling platforms, packing, posting, building community, social media posts, customer service, ordering supplies, accounts the list goes on. I have learnt that this is my unique selling point. Me. People buy from people, I have built a beautiful warm community on social media and through word and mouth and I am forever grateful to my community. To each and everyone of them, some are customers and some potential customers and some are cheerleaders, they support my posts, comment and share my work to boost my online presence and for that there is no price. Thank you. So, now my pricing reflects a more realistic cost of making unique small batch products, as well as all the overheads I it reflects the time, the skill and passion bout into the brand. I love making items to order, when I make to order I can create with intention for that person. I feel it connects me to the recipient and them to me through the finished piece. For a large handmade mug its roughly the equivalent of a quick wet cut at the hairdressers maybe even with a tiny punnet of berries to nibble on the way home (unless you shop in Waitrose!), and in return you get an artisan handmade mug that will bring you much comfort and joy. I hope in time to share my learning with other makers, I hope to share this through my blogs, share my lessons learnt both good and bad and share more details on setting up and running a small creative business as well as my plans moving forward. So do sign up to my newsletters/ follow me on Instagram to hear of future blogs and for small business support/community. So is handmade really that expensive? I’m not so sure. In a world of mindless excess, lovingly considered handmade pieces not only bring joy but also function. You know where your piece is made and by whom, meaning you are connected to your piece often before it’s even made. The carbon footprint is often lower too (I will share more about how I consider this in the studio and business in another blog). So have I changed my view on my tutors comment that you'll never find a rich potter? Well, no I haven't, but I have also changed my view on what a rich potter is, for me personally if i can wake knowing I'm free to live the creative life I have dreamed of and have food on the table, a roof over my head, access to nature, good health and family and friends then I am rich beyond my dreams. So yes, it is possible to be a rich potter. Thank you for reading, Cara

  • Welcoming Autumn - preparing for the festive season

    Our pottery studio doors open onto the garden, the leaves have started to turn, each day the evenings seem to be drawing in earlier. Our busy season is creeping up on us as we prepare for Christmas and the festive season. Autumn is definitely one of my favourite seasons with Spring close at its heels. With both of these seasons my heart is filled with hope, an opportunity for new starts and growth. Autumns Earthy warm palette of rusty harvested apples, bundles of cut golden wheat, freshly dug mustard yellow squashes and copper Beech leaves makes my heart sing. I love woodland walks especially the smell of the woodland floor as you crunch over the fallen leaves, the fresh crisp air leaving a healthy glow on your cheeks. Once home you light the log burner, and a candle and pour a cup of tea and snuggle up in your favourite chair. As a maker autumn is typically a busy time as I prepare for the Christmas period. Wholesale orders for shops have started dropping in. Organised customers have already started on their Christmas shopping, spreading the cost and allowing time for their made to order pieces. In the studio we are attempting to build some stock of our popular items such as mugs and wax burners. We have been running our business now for 18 months, last Christmas we purely made to order, due to not being in the position to have stock in place ahead of the season. It went well, but was extremely busy and the last couple of weeks before Christmas were so stressful as if you know anything about the ceramic process you will know that it can be a challenging process! Most things take us 2-3 weeks depending of what we have waiting to make, the process of ceramics is a lengthy one without much wiggle room for rushing through orders. Everything we make in our studio is made by forming the clay in our hands and shaping it, nothing is made with the wheel or slip cast, so everything is very much a unique piece, making it all that much more special. You can hear about our shop updates and get access to VIP discounts including a 10% discount in your first order by signing up to our newsletters and following us on Instagram or Facebook This year we hope to reduce the festive stress even if just a bit! We plan to have at least a day off a week, when you are doing a job you love and have the orders there waiting its hard to step away, but this year we are going to. We also plan to adjust our working hours slightly so we go for a dog walk in daylight and work later instead. It's so important for me to be with nature, to slow down, to notice the changes around me, to practice gratitude and being outside helps so much with that. We mostly start and finish the day with meditation and we are determined that when its gets busy we prioritise this as starting and finishing the day well helps with maintaining our strength and longevity in creativity. We love cooking and cook from scratch most days, we enjoy doing this together, but when its gets so busy it can be easy to not eat well and that in turn makes you feel run down. So we are going to go to the local farmers market to collect our vegetables and batch cook our stews, soups and sauces to make evening meals more convenient once we are in from the studio. We are gradually adding pieces to our website shop and have many items in stock or available as made to order. We will be adding new lines in addition to our current lines including our popular Winters Night Starry Mug. As well as on our website shop you can also shop with us online at Etsy and Not On The High Street. In store at The St. Ives Company, St Ives, Cornwall. Pebble & Salt, Fowey, Cornwall. Artyzan, Redruth, Cornwall.

  • Ideas For Handmade Christmas Gifts

    I love the feeling when someone gives me a gift that is handmade, I know then they saw the item and straight away thought of me, handmade allows me to connect with the maker and the process through the item. I also know that I am not the only one benefitting from this gift; that the maker and their family are too. The joy I feel is the same joy the maker feels when they sell the item. As a maker myself I still get so excited when I make a sale. I still refer to my orders as presents when I wrap them to go on their way! It's just the excitement and the love that has gone into each item and can't wait to share that feeling with someone else. I thought I would share with you some of my current favourite makers and also share some of my Christmas range with you. Of Land and Sea Handmade recycled silver jewellery. Inspired by nature, lore and life in the Southwest of England Helen Round Designs Hand printed linen products, Cornwall. Lou Tonkin Artist Print-maker, Cornwall Kettle and Birch Hand-bound Journals and Books, London Old Green Furnishings Handmade Candles poured into repurposed glass bottles, South West England. The Whispering Wild Sculptor, illustrator, writer, Fairytale Maker Hope you appreciate the talent of the makers I have shared, some of the products are just so beautiful. I have loved preparing my Christmas range this year. I hope you enjoy them as much too. Hand formed ceramics, Cornwall. Christmas range includes luxury mug, tea light holder, candle holders, match striker/holder, tree decorations, and other seasonal pieces.

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  • About | Sparrows Nest Ceramics | Handmade Pottery Cornwall | Eco Studio

    MY STORY & PHILOSOPHY Welcome, I am Cara and my husband Andrew Fitzmaurice, we live in `West Cornwall, a rural county in the Southwest of the UK. Our studio is located at home, which also happens to be the home of several sparrow families who return to nest every year. ​ In a world of mass produced objects we create space for the joy of unique, hand formed pieces that are made with love and inspiration from nature, of land and sea here in Cornwall. We are fortune to live within the countryside, our family's cottage is set high up on a hill, where we are witness to much goings on in the meadows and woodland, much of our work is based on 'stories from home', often with a folklore influence. ​ Our work is free forming and open, believing there is nothing more authentic than handmade pieces where imperfections connect the product to the makers, creating an organic and unique look. Many of our pieces are made using primitive techniques such as raku techniques of smoke firing, saggar and surface marking with natural materials that I forage locally such as seedheads and seaweed. Often our inspiration comes from the natural world around us here in West Cornwall, whether that's the earthy heathlands, the enchanting woodlands, the calm south coast or rugged north coast. ​ Having just recently moved our studio we hope in time to reinstall solar panels on the studio, currently we mainly use rainwater in the studio, often make to order, recycle our clay, we embrace electric travel and are living a vegan lifestyle and using eco friendly packaging or packaging saved from landfill we aim to reduce our carbon footprint on this wonderful planet Earth. ​ Freedom to express creativity and our ever learning path to slow living (Sustainable, Local, Organic and Whole) and are at the heart of our core values. We are mainly self taught having previously had careers in nursing and finance, we absolutely love sharing the therapeutic nature of clay with others through our workshops, courses and our pottery at home boxes. We endeavour like so many now to live a life where we can notice the everyday and the ever changing world around us. We hope that through our work we can bring moments of calm to you, whether through holding one of our mugs while watching rain fall from a window or cosied up with a tealight holder creating a gentle moment for you. Each of our pieces are made with an abundance of love and gratitude, I hope the joy I have in making them translates to our customers. ​ You can buy our work online on the this website; Etsy; Not On The High Street, Folksy (also available through other small independent businesses). In store - Pebble and Salt Fowey, Cornwall. The St. Ives Co, St Ives Cornwall. Artyzan, Redruth, Cornwall. The Eco Pantry, Sevenoaks, Kent Beck Steps Gallery, Grasmere, Cumbria Katie Goddard Art, Olney, Milton Keynes Island Aura, Alderney ​ Visits to the studio in Chacewater Cornwall to meet us and view our work is available by appointment Stay in touch with our latest events and exclusive offers by signing up to our newsletter.

  • Trade | Sparrows Nest Ceramics

    I am inspired by the beauty of the natural world around me, I take my inspiration from places such as the hedgerow, the woodland and coastal paths in Cornwall. ​ I provide small batch items, with no minimum amount for each product on your order. I recognise each customers need is different and happy to accommodate your business needs. Trade list provided upon request by email. If you have seen something on my social media or website you are interested in then a screen shot or link is helpful. ​ All my pieces are loving hand built using slab, coiling and moulding techniques. No two pieces are the same; I love how hand build pieces connect you to the process and the maker. ​ I am happy to discuss any ideas you may have as a business for a product or adding stamps or logos to the pieces to make them your own. ​ If you wish for me to design and create an exclusive design for your company such commissioned pieces will start from a £50 up front payment to cover initial design and making as well as purchasing any test materials such as glazes and other resources. I provide a free half an hour consultation to discuss your needs, contact to arrange. ​ Please do note that prices do not include postage which will be added to your order. For bespoke orders a non refundable deposit of 50% of total cost is to be made at time of placing the order. For all other orders a deposit maybe requested and all payments to be made prior to collection/ delivery. Please mail for further information and availability. Christmas orders are encourage for September ​ Thank you for supporting independent artisans ​ Cara

  • Pottery Courses | Sparrows Nest Ceramics

    Bloom Among the wildflowers oh, how she bloomed. This workshop invites you to deeper your connection to nature, to pause in a busy world, to notice the beauty of the world around us. To ground and connect with the Earth through clay and experience its therapeutic benefits as you get lost in the process of creating something truly beautiful through hand forming clay (no wheel just hands). Forage to find flowers, herbs, leaves and weeds that you feel drawn to to help create your ceramic piece. This workshop is perfect for those with no ceramic experience, full support will be given thorough the course. The workshop is held in our barn studio and the gardens and woodlands of our home, near Chacewater, Cornwall. We welcome you to join us for a half day or full day session. The half day is 2 hours (you will get to make one piece) £45 per person The full day is 5 hours (you will get the make more than one piece, i.e a large plate and a jug/vase/mug). £90 per person 25% non refundable deposit at time of booking. Email to book: or message through website, Instagram or Facebook. Perfect for hen dos, workplace parties, birthday experiences and family/friend groups and well deserved time out of the everyday. '| enjoyed the calmness of the workshop, so laid back its a great environment to learn new skills' 'Cara was so supportive, enthusiastic, a calm and inspirational tutor, she helped me feel confident about my pieces, I don’t feel I’m creative but Cara has helped me realise I am’ After the day your piece will be left to dry for about a week, then bisque fired to 1040 degrees Celsius over several hours, then I shall add a glaze of your choice over your piece and over any underglaze colours you have decorated with, your piece will be fired to 1225 degrees Celsius. I will then message you for collection arrangements or postage can be arranged at additional cost. Adding Leaf Detail to Hand Built Bowl

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