Stallholder Focus: Harriet Elkerton
Tell us about your business.
Hello I’m Harriet! I’m a ceramicist, crafting porcelain slip-casted wares. For the last three years, I have been making pots and platters, planters and vases, bowls and bottles in my studio, based in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside.
“Harriet Elkerton would like to envelop you in a handcrafted existence.”
My objects, with their unassuming simplicity, are designed for living, for enhancing everyday pleasures. Natural materials, plants and food play a key role in this lifestyle. These objects will happily take on any purpose they are put to, and give you enjoyment while you use them.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your role and what you enjoy most about your job.
I’m very much a maker, through and through. Beyond pots and clay, I can be found on my sewing machine or in the kitchen.
Floristry and botany/plants have become a growing interest, which fortunately compliments my ceramics. I have a rapidly growing plant collection, which comes along with me to shows. You can pick up a leafy friend to go along with your pot purchase. Some days it does feel my ceramics business is an elaborately fashioned excuse to justify my plant buying habits.
It’s rather a one-(wo)man-band in my workshop: from the designing and making, to the administration and finances, to the marketing and selling. As a maker, my natural habitat is the workshop, covered in clay but I have really grown to enjoy the direct selling side of my job, at markets like the Independent Oxford Christmas Market. Apart from the making, it has become one of my favourite parts about my job: I get to make work I believe is beautiful, which people buy and then they put on display in their house or they gift to a friend or family. It’s a simple concept but it means so much, that people will part with their hard-earned cash because they consider the work beautiful.
Describe the gifts you will be selling at the Independent Oxford Christmas Market.
Planters, platters and pots! Coming with me to the Independent Oxford Christmas Market will be a whole range of porcelain vessels, designed for living.
My functional objects are slip-cast porcelain, with unctuous glossy white glazed interiors. Each piece is slightly different, and this irregularity is intentional – my use of paper for the models establishes an inherent instability in the process. The moisture in the plaster causes the paper to buckle, to stretch, leaving unpredictable shapes in the final mould. Once the porcelain is cast, the kiln has its way with the material too; the waves encourage deforming and movement in the final form of the object. These moments of unexpectedness are purposefully set up, to get a handmade feel, an individuality, from repetition.
These simple vessels, clean and crisp, stand alone or gather in clusters or are combined with other materials, with leathers and cords and found materials.
All pieces are made in my Oxfordshire studio, with prices ranging from the wee little saucer at £10 to more statement investment pieces. For pieces like the Hanging Planters and Hanging Conical Vases, designed for plants, displayed with plants and sold with plants: they make ideal ‘ready-to-go’ gifts.
What’s your favourite product in your range this season?
This summer, things have gone big in the workshop. New favourites are the Vase, Great and the Large Potkin. The greater scale means the use of paper in the mould-making process, the instability this introduces is pushed far further than before and the result is beautiful undulations and ripples and movement in the final form.
Another new venture this season I’m excited about is the introduction of a ceramics subscription: Cast + Gather. Beginning this forthcoming January, you could have a quarterly surprise delivered to your doorstep. With three themes to choose from: Eat, Grow and Live, you can tailor your subscription to your interests.
Lastly, what are your favourite indies in Oxford?
Indigo and Aspire Style are always great for a gift, or a full skirt for myself with the latter! Edamame is a firm favourite for this foodie, and this summer I’ve really enjoyed the Bitten Street Food markets. A new favourite: I ate at Arbequina last week and will be returning again very soon to work my way through the menu. Absolutely delicious!