Reasons To Be Cheerful

Illustration by Jonathan Shackleton

“Every card, sheet of wrapping paper, gift, print, book, cushion (the list is endless) purchased from your local indie shop, craft fair, design market, small online shop this season will contribute to a maker or business owners longevity, supporting their growth and stability for the year ahead. Whether it’s a little or a lot, show your support and together we can continue to make our high streets, towns and villages prosper.” Hattie Maud, Mauds House.

We’re a small independent business and we’ve had the pleasure of working with lots small businesses in Leeds and Yorkshire in 2017. When you’re an independent business your network of peeps is your lifeline and we’re grateful to have met and worked with some ace people doing their thing and doing it well.

Today is Black Friday and I’ve woken up to a stack of emails inviting me to search out the deal of the day. I’ve deleted them all and instead focused on reminding myself of all the national initiatives that champion shopping independent, small and local.


This Christmas, Holly & Co is spearheading a movement, #campaignshopsmall. It’s an initiative that celebrates the incredible small businesses in our communities. “As consumers, how we spend our money has the power to change so much. Every pound we spend casts a vote for the kind of world we want to live in; and in a world that’s speeding up, we’re campaigning to slow down. It’s time to place quality over quantity, handmade over manufactured”. Holly & Co, more…

Statistics show that for every £1 spent with a local, independent business, between 50p-70p circulates back into that local economy. In a small way, it’s possible to influence change in our communities.


The JUST A CARD campaign aims to encourage people to buy from Designer/Makers and Independent Galleries and Shops by reinforcing the message that all purchases, however small, even ‘just a card’ are so vital to the prosperity and survival of small businesses.


Today, Friday 24th November, Just a Card are hosting the #JACIndieFriday campaign, a celebration of all things colourful, passionate and independent. And the best thing is that all you have to do is make as much noise about your product and business as possible!

small-business-saturday-posterSmall Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.

The day itself takes place on the first Saturday in December each year, but the campaign aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses. In 2017 Small Business Saturday is on Saturday 2nd December. We’ll be in our pop-up workspace and shop that day. Say hello, have a play.


Festive and Seasonal


We have three festive and seasonal ceramics workshops taking place in Leeds and Skipton this year.

One year on, our snowflakes are primed and ready for our Festive Ceramics Workshop: Scatter. We’re taking this workshop to two venues: Chirpy in Chapel Allerton and Carousel (our pop-up shop in Headingley).


In Scatter you’ll experiment with custom-made roulettes, cutters and stamps to make hanging stars and baubles. Put them on your tree, make a garland, add them to a wreath or use them as luxurious gift tags. You’ll have time to make loads so you’ll have enough to shower them all over your home.

handmade-ceramic-bells-sunken-studioNext up is our Festive Ceramics Workshop: Chime. We’re hosting an evening clay workshop at Mauds House in Skipton and an evening and daytime session at our pop-up shop in Headingley.

In Chime you’ll learn how to handbuild some tiny-ish chimes. Put them on your tree, hide them in crackers, assemble your loved ones and compose a peal. You could even use them summon a bit of TLC…

handmade-ceramic-bells-sunken-studioWe’ll cover a few techniques in this session and then it’ll be up to you to choose which to explore. There’ll be plenty of opportunity to customise your pieces with handmade tools and stamps or you could just whittle away.


Finally, our last seasonal workshop will be our first collaborative workshop at our first pop-up shop!

We’re heading over to Headingley to open a pop-up shop and workspace. We’ll be selling our ceramic jewellery and hosting daytime and evening ceramic tasters and drop-in sessions from Wednesday 29 November to Saturday 9 December. Checkout our Tasters Courses and Events pages for full details. We’re also hosting coil building and ceramics spoon making workshops.


In our Tea Blends and Tea Bowl Workshop: Brew you’ll learn how to make teas and a tea bowl that reflect your creativity and personal taste. We’re are teaming up with nutritional consultant, Melanie Hadida, to explore how to make infusions to help relax, boost your immunity & more! It’s a real winter warmer of a workshop.


Preparing a cup of tea can be a thoroughly creative process. An inspiring assortment of healing herbs and spices can present you with endless possibilities…

You’ll experiment with an array of herbs and spices to create a signature blend of tea. Of course you’ll need something beautiful to drink from, so we’ll show you how to make a hand-carved tea bowl to cradle, embrace and comfort.


About Melanie Hadida

Melanie began teaching vegetarian cooking workshops in Chapel Allerton and in 2014. She is a qualified Nutritional Consultant. With an emphasis on fresh and whole ingredients Melanie helps clients develop healthier eating habits.

About Carousel

Carousel is a rotating event space. The space is situated in the middle of a busy parade of shops with a variety of independent retailers. The address is Carousel, 80 Otley Road in Far Headingley.

The Wheel

throwing-on-a-potters-wheel-demonstrationGreat news. We now offer tuition in using the Potter’s Wheel to throw pots. Come and spend time at our ceramics studio in Leeds. Learn how to centre, open, collar, pull, shape, finish and wire off your finished work. Visit our Gift and Gather pages for further details. Continue reading The Wheel

Pottery Experience Voucher Packs


Donut Press have been helping us out again. This time with our Pottery Experiences. We now have Voucher Packs available for all our ceramics workshops.

Continue reading Pottery Experience Voucher Packs

Colour and Colours May Vary


Colour, colour. Like most of our workshops the Ceramics Taster: Fettle at Colours May Vary was developed rather serendipitously. With all external workshops I work with the venue to develop a proposal that reflects shared values. It was clear from the beginning that our ceramics workshops at Colours May Vary would involve graphical decorative techniques and colour.

Continue reading Colour and Colours May Vary

Colour My Everyday

Throughout June I experimented with styling to showcase products made at Sunken Studio’s Ceramics Tasters and Courses. I used the Adventures and Tea Parties Instagram challenge #ColourMyEveryday to act as prompts for the posts. Below is the list of prompts and links to the posts.

Also in June I took some timeout to develop products and make examples for workshops in preparation for Autumn and Winter. This challenge has already helped me develop a few new ideas beyond styling and showcasing.

The courses and events pages have now been updated and I’ve added more evening and weekend ceramics classes. If your looking for something to do in Leeds over summer sign-up to our newsletter to receive updates. I’ve partnered up with a few new venues so there are plenty of options to choose from.

The prompts and links to Sunken Studio’s relevant #ColourMyEveryday posts are:

Continue reading Colour My Everyday

It’s not just a shelf

On the 4th August 2017 I was listening to the Last Word on BBC Radio 4. I heard a recording of Mark Wilkinson talking about furniture. He said “I want furniture that is affirmative not demanding. I don’t want to be nagged by my environment. I want to be comforted. I want it to speak to me of myself”. His candour resonated. Materials and the things we choose to live with are important and you should enjoy the things you choose to share your space and time with.

Here’s a piece of my furniture, and the things on it, that make me very happy. It’s 606 Universal Shelving designed by Dieter Rams and now manufactured and sold by Vitsoe. I spent last year saving for it & when I left my job I nearly changed my mind but… “sod it, bendy, precarious, Billy has to go!”. It’s the last sizeable, totally indulgent treat, I bought. 

There have been some massive lows in the past 15 months but, although there have been some truly shitty bits, on the whole the changes have been for the best and I’m happier for it. I guess I’m mentioning this now as it’s important not to be nagged by anything… including furniture. It’s not just a bookshelf…

Cup at Mauds House


September was a busy month for ceramics workshops out & about. The first one I hosted this Autumn was the Ceramics Taster: Cup at Mauds House in Skipton. The welcome was warm & cosy. Guests were greeted at the door with a cheery chalk board and just inside there was a large glass jar of chilled juice and a large bowl of brownies. I didn’t have time to take many pictures of the workshop in progress but here are the finished results. Participants also enjoyed a 10% discount off goods at Mauds House during the workshop. Tempting. Very tempting…

Continue reading Cup at Mauds House

Clay: connecting, health and wellbeing

A couple of articles have been doing the rounds on social media:

Creating Ceramics Can Help Combat Depression and Of Mind and Mud: How Clay is Shaping Up to be the Next Big Mindfulness Trend.

After workshops people regularly comment on how therapeutic they have found their experience with clay. I’m frequently asked if I find it therapeutic. My immediate response has been no. My mind jumps to all the problems I encounter and the constant disappointments. That said, I’ve been thinking about why, despite the challenges that the material presents, I’ve been loyal to it for over 20 years.

I enjoy the problems and challenges. I’m rewarded when a problem has been solved. Clay, and working three-dimensionally, has made me more resilient & determined. It’s provided me with so many opportunities to know myself and develop my conceptual and critical thinking. Shaping lumps of matter has been transformational.

Is it good for your health and wellbeing? Absolutely, but I describe it as feedback. It’s a reciprocal conversation that changes as the material’s properties change – plastic, leather hard, green, bisque etc… It’s also a conversation that’s enriched as you learn more about how it’s shaped how we live & what we know about our past.

​If you listen to it & reflect on what it gives, it’s possible to learn something about yourself and the way you approach & resolve problems. In a culture that puts too much emphasis on cognitive intelligence, clay exerts its presence to give meaning and substance to what can be achieved with both body & mind. I’m thankful for that. In the past few years I’d not been making. I’d become quite miserable and began to dislike myself. I guess it all boils down to connecting – relating to clay involves many of the same challenges involved in relating to people.

Jewellery at Sunken Studio

In May, I met with Becky and Andy from Colours May Vary to discuss the possibility of running a couple of ceramic workshops.

Continue reading Jewellery at Sunken Studio



Sunken Studio will be a year old in September. To celebrate we’re hosting a free ceramics workshop. We’re devising a special workshop & will surprise you on the day. To enter head over to Facebook and/or Instagram.

The workshop will be held on Tuesday 25 July, 18:45-21:00.

To Enter:

  • Like/follow our Facebook page, share it with your friends and family and make a comment in the competition post.


  • Follow us on Instagram, comment and tag at least one friend that you think would be interested too.
  • If someone has tagged you and you’d like to enter follow us on Instagram, comment and tag at least one friend that you think would be interested too.


Names will be selected on Sunday 23 July after 6pm. Winners will be notified shortly after. If you are unable to attend we’ll redraw.


  • This competition is for adults ages 18+.
  • Winners must be available on Tuesday 25 July, 18:45-21:00.


Recent Makes


Coil pots to Tulipiere in 10 weeks of making. Look at that offset foot. Each part has one so each pot appears to hover above the table. Design details like that make me smile. This amazing Tulipiere stack was made by David during a six week evening classes. David has already completed our Beginner’s Bundle: Build and has progressed onto Beginner’s Bundle: Adapt. Continue reading Recent Makes



For the last 2-3 weeks I’ve been whittling a spoon a day. I generally make more than one as I usually allow an hour to do it. Some get discarded quickly, others will get discarded but I’ll use them for glaze tests first. There are so many nuances to explore/develop. Over time I’ll work out the technique, size, form and colours that I’ll concentrate on. For now, I enjoy having something that I make daily. Continue reading Spoons