Potty about pottery

How Charlotte Storrs took her garden shed hobby into an international business.

‘We should give all the rioters a pot to throw and they will feel much better,’ laughs ceramicist Charlotte Storrs, who is a firm believer that transforming lumps of clay can do wonders for your wellbeing. A career ceramicist by accident, Storrs - who makes rustic stoneware, dishes and pots - has been heralded as a star in the interiors world.

Her burgeoning pottery business began by accident. Before her four children were born, she was an interpreter, translator and taught violin and viola by trade. She signed up to a ceramics class and loved it but dropped it while her children were growing up. ‘There was no time for hobbies like ceramics in those days,’ she laughs. Once her youngest son left for college in 2004, Storrs revisited her passion and spent a morning a week learning how to throw a pot with Graham Hudson in Oxford.

‘I got completely hooked and absorbed,’ recalls Storrs. ‘After two terms, I got a wheel and kiln to do pottery in our glorified garden shed.’ What started as a hobby in her ‘Heath Robinson’ shed quickly escalated into a business. She now spends all her time at the bottom of her quiet garden in Oxfordshire where she has her pottery, a pizza oven, a greenhouse, raised vegetable beds and a large outside living room. ‘There came a point, after a few months, that I realized I couldn’t keep inflicting my pots onto family and friends forever.’ Her first venture into selling her wares was an open sale in aid of a charity. The rustic stoneware, which is hand-finished with white and muted glazes, sold like hot cakes giving her the encouragement to pursue it as a business.

Her first commission was an ambitious one; a lady wanted a complete dinner set. ‘I thought, ‘help! I’ve never even made a plate in my life.’ I obviously didn’t tell the buyer this and it turned out to be a success,’ Storrs says. ‘Business snowballed from then on.’ A trip to visit potters in Japan inspired her to incorporate akebia quinata vine into her work as handles. The two materials make a striking contrast. Her work is decorated plainly with a rustic elegance; rather a muted Sophie Conran Portmeiron style. She limits her decoration to combing, faceting or using patterned ceramic rollers on the clay. Earlier this year, she was listed in Elle Decoration's design Hot List 2011 of the New, the Classic and the Collectable and such an accolade has bought with it additional work. ‘I’m now working flat out on a deadline making lots of plates and bowls for a restaurant in Bordeaux set up by David Bellion, the young French footballer.’

Hers is a modest one-man band but her vision goes beyond the limits of throwing pots. ‘I dream up things.' Storrs says. 'We were doing up our own bathroom recently and I decided to make the basin. Since making our own, I’ve gone into selling them.’ Is there any stopping her? She now sells through shops, galleries, her website and is a member of the mydeco design boutique of independent designers. ‘What was supposed to be a hobby has become a little business. The whole thing since 2004 has been on the up. I am most proud of making a business that works.’ She still teaches music and is reluctant to give up the ‘people’ bit of her work. ‘Being in the pottery can be lonely business. Spending my entire day there without seeing bodies would not be good for me. The combination of pots and music works very well.'

What thrills Storrs is most is helping those less fortunate. ‘I love to make more of these for handicapped people, where appropriate,’ she says. ‘I’ve got a very recent private commission for a quadriplegic person who has limited use of his right arm. I made some plates for him with an upstanding edge on one side. I often have open days at home in aid of a third world country. It gives me a great kick.’ Her latest was in aid of the Pavement Dwellers Project in Dhaka, Bangladesh. ‘I invited people to throw their own pots. They pay £5, and I show them how to throw their own pot from a lump of clay. Turning clay into something different is a totally special experience.' Perhaps she's right; we should give the rioters a pot to throw and they'll feel much better.

Annie Deakin is interiors writer for sofa and interior design website mydeco.com.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art

The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Middleware Support Analyst

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Java Developer/Designer

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: My client are looking fo...

Domino Developer and Administrator

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Domino ...

IT Technician

£26000 - £27000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: Experienced Science Techn...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?