A Sunday with.. HLW Ceramics

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Handmade ceramics


While wandering through the Bath Christmas Market last Winter, something irresistibly shiny caught Nat’s eye. As our lead designer at Always Sunday Design Studio, she's always on the lookout for new and exciting pieces but it was the intense iridescence and organic curves of a candle holder on the stand of HLW ceramics that had her heart.

After a chat with Hayley (the talented potter and the brains and hands behind the designs) Nat returned to the store and excitedly reported her find to Bella and Lauren. Within days, we were schmoozing our way to commissioning an entire new collection including an exclusive mug that’s the perfect size for our morning coffee and looks like it’s been dipped in stardust.

Here are three reasons why we think HLW Ceramics is out of this world talented:

  1. Her pieces are just so damn shiny. We don’t know how she does it but she’s got our inner magpies chattering!
  2. This isn’t even her full time job, she’s actually a tech wizz who’s got a (now-not-so-secret) hidden talent.
  3. Hayley loves to support fellow artists and makers at her local arts centre Farnham Maltings.

Read on to discover even more reasons why we love Hayley and her work..


Artisan-made ceramics


When was HLW Ceramics born?

I started my journey in 2021 and am self-taught. Pottery has always been an itch I needed to scratch. After a few failed attempts to join classes (timing/Covid), I decided to buy a wheel and some stoneware clay and teach myself how to throw. I figured, worst-case scenario, I could sell the wheel if I had no talent or passion for it. But thankfully, that wasn't the case, and I was installing my kiln within 6-months. I have an art background, graduating with a BA Hons in Fine Art from Winchester School of Art in 2004, but my day job in tech couldn’t be further from the art world. Pottery now feeds my creative side, I dream that one day I could make this my full-time career.


Shop local pottery


What inspired the glazes and finishes you use?

I can’t really explain what makes a glaze sing to me and what doesn’t. When creating glaze test tiles and testing combinations, the glazes that I am drawn to have complexity. You can look at them over and over and see something new and exciting each time. 

 A lot of my ceramic inspiration comes from the past. I frequent various museums (I adore the V&A) to walk amongst the vast ceramic collections from around the world. 

When I think about inspiration from artists working today, then one of the positive sides of social media is that it makes it so easy to discover global artists across genres. Honestly, I could fill the page with names, but a few notable ceramics inspirations: Byung Sik Moon - a ceramic artist in South Korea. His throwing ability is just out of this world. Michelle Wen is a ceramic artist in Brooklyn who creates the most beautiful lidded vessels (and makes it look so easy). Carolyn Tripp is a ceramic artist in Wimbledon. I have the pleasure of owning one of her pieces; she has such a distinctive style.


Handmade Butter Dish



How long does it take to create a piece from start to finish? Can you walk us through that process?

Timings can vary on the size and thickness of a piece, but If I take a humble mug, for example, from start to finish, the process can take up to 3 weeks, depending on the time of year. The colder and wetter months can draw out clay drying times.

Process breakdown for mugs

  1. Prepare (weigh and wedge) the clay ready for throwing.
  2. Wheel-throw the body of the mug on the potter's wheel.
  3. Hand-pull each mug handle.
  4. Allow the pieces to dry until the clay is leather-hard, which can take up to 2 days.
  5. Trim any excess clay from the body, trim the foot of the mug, and attach a handle.
  6. Allow the mug to dry until bone dry. This can take between 1-2 weeks.
  7. Once dry, the mugs are ready for their first kiln fire (bisque fire). I run this as a slow fire with a preheat to remove any last moisture. The kiln will reach 1060 degrees Celsius and, run for approximately 14 hours, and require about 10 hours to cool before opening.
  8. Glaze the mugs - I brush-glaze each mug and allow the glaze to dry for around 12 hours.
  9. The mugs are then ready for their second kiln firing (glaze fire), which takes approximately 8.5 hours and reaches 1220 degrees celsius. Again, the kiln requires a complete cool-down before opening.
  10. If I add any lustres, I will add gold or mother-of-pearl to some pieces- they brushed onto the glazed piece at this point before being returned to the kiln for a third fire at 705 degrees celsius for approximately five hours.

If you have a finished mug in one piece that you love at the end of all of this, then you will be a happy potter! 

 How to throw pottery


Tell us a bit more about you, what’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

I hate to admit it, but the first thing I do is reach for my phone and scroll through my emails, look at the news and quickly scroll through Instagram (a habit I need to kick). However, this is usually done during a morning cuddle with our two rescue dogs (Rose and Lloyd), who have made it into bed with us by now.


About HLW Ceramics



What does a normal Sunday look like for you?

I start with an early open-water swim at The Quays in Mytchett, Surrey. I’m generally in the water as the sun rises; it is the best way to start a day. Once I’ve warmed up, we head out on a long dog walk (regardless of the weather). We are fortunate that are home is surrounded by many beautiful locations in Surrey. Our favourite dog walking locations include Swinley Forest, Frensham Ponds, and Barossa Nature Reserve. I then get back into the studio. Sundays are typically when I’m loading the kiln ready for a fire, trimming pieces I have thrown the day before, or just cleaning and organising my small studio space for the week ahead. There are always jobs to be done!


Where is home?

We purchased a beautiful Victorian property here in Surrey a couple of years ago. It has a real gothic energy, which is one of the main reasons we fell in love with it. I would say our style sits somewhere between modern maximalist and eclectic. There are bold and moody tones throughout the house, and we lean towards some traditional Victorian design elements, but I want my space to be exciting and enjoyable to look at; I get bored quickly so I’ll bring in vibrant textiles, art, accessories, and always a touch of luxury and opulence. 


Victorian Home Inspiration


Is it influenced by your brand or the other way round?

There are huge similarities between my ceramics and my home. Working on this house has influenced many of the glaze finishes I use today.

Where are your favourite places to go where you live?

Aside from the beautiful dog walking areas, I love to visit Farnham Maltings, a hugely essential arts and culture centre in Surrey. The centre is vital in supporting local artists and artisan craft makes, and this is where I started to sell my work as part of the Malting Monthly Market. If I’m not participating in the market, I love to visit and discover new artists and makers and get inspired. 

Pottery Glaze Ideas


What’s new for HLW Ceramics for 2024? What are you working on?

I have two main focuses this year. The first is to continue to design and develop a core collection. The second is to start creating a few of my own glazes. I have dedicated the past two years to the clay and honing my foundational wheel-throwing skills, learning as much as possible about the practice. It is a natural progression to now introduce some of my glazes, which will take my work to the next level and help reduce my making costs.

 An exciting year ahead! If any of Hayley's wonderful pieces have caught your eye, you can now shop the entire collection in store and online including our limited edition HLW Ceramics mugs:

Shop Always Sunday Collections


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