Sejal Ceramics: meet the maker swapping the pharmacy for the pottery

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Meet the Maker – Sejal Ceramics

Sejal Patel wanted to take origami as her enrichment class at college, but when she missed enrolment, ceramics was the only option left. This happy accident led her to establish Sejal Ceramics, her own range of minimal porcelain pieces with dashes of metallic detailing, that she makes whenever she’s not working in a pharmacy. Sejal talks to jeweller and fellow Folksy seller Hannah Elspeth Marshall from the Beach Shack Project about her ceramics, slip-casting, the pottery studio she has created in her garage and the inspiration behind her work…

Get 10% off Sejal Ceramics – use code LOVE10 when you check out before 18th February 2018. Click here to shop >

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I do ceramics part time and work as a medicine counter assistant in a pharmacy for around 25 hours a week. It’s very different but I love the balance.

Hello Sejal! I’m really pleased to be interviewing you, as I have a particular penchant for ceramics. When did you first fall in love with your craft?

I first fell in love with my craft by accident, when I forgot to enrol on to my second year at college. For some strange reason I thought it was the day after everyone else. As part of my enrichment at college I was originally going to join the origami class, but as I missed my enrolment I was left with ceramics as my only option in the creative field. I went to my first class and I was hooked! I guess it was a blessing in disguise!

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Little bottles of love by Sejal Ceramics – available here 

Your current body of work features stark fresh white porcelain with a dash of metallics. What inspires your pieces? 

I’m mainly inspired by simple forms and clean, fresh interiors. I’m drawn to pieces which are not overly complicated but have that little something that makes them different from anything else.

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Ceramic hanging planter by Sejal Ceramics – available here

A common theme with your pretty ornamental ceramics is that they’re functional and would fit seamlessly into many different styles of home. How do you come up with new ideas or designs? 
My ideas and designs mainly come from thinking about the types of pieces I’d like in my own home. I’ve always wanted to make things that are affordable and stylish and that can fit into any home or space. I think that’s why I like to keep things simple. After coming out of university I always felt like I had to make things that had another meaning or had to keep asking myself why I was making certain decisions. Then, I realised it’s ok to make things just because you like to make them.

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Ceramics can be very unpredictable and you never really know how a piece is going to turn out until the final firing.

Do you make your ceramics full time or do you have another job? 
I do ceramics part time and work as a medicine counter assistant in a pharmacy for around 25 hours a week. It’s very different but I love the balance.

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Can describe a typical day for Sejal Ceramics? 

It could be anything from a whole day spent making in the studio, to sitting with my laptop sorting out admin and photographs, or working all day in the pharmacy, coming home and going straight into the studio. There’s always something to do in the studio, be it making, finishing off pieces ready to sell, or cleaning, which is something that actually needs to be done – it’s a right mess at the moment!

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Porcelain napkin ring with a gold heart by Sejal Ceramics – available here

I was originally going to join the origami class at college, but as I missed my enrolment I was left with ceramics as my only option in the creative field.

Many of your pieces look slip cast. Can you tell us a bit more about your making process and explain what slip casting is for anyone who isn’t familiar with the technique? 

Of course! Slip casting is the process of creating ceramic casts by pouring liquid clay into plaster moulds. The liquid clay is left in the mould for a short time, depending on how thick you want the cast to be. The excess clay is poured out and the mould is left to drain and dry. The piece is then removed and ready for fettling. While at university this was my main area of ceramics. Slip-casting and mould-making appealed to me as I loved the idea of creating replicas but being able to alter them slightly or change them into a completely different piece.

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Slip-casting and mould-making appealed to me as I loved the idea of creating replicas but being able to alter them slightly or change them into a completely different piece.

Most of my models I use for my slip-casting are made from plaster and I use a range of items to create them, from card to balloons, depending on the form I’m trying to achieve. I like the idea of having a form unique to Sejal Ceramics. However, if I come across an item that I like and think I could change up, then I give it a go. When making the model I have to consider shrinkage. As I use porcelain, I have to add on around 15-17% to whatever I want the actual size to be after the piece is completed.

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Little porcelain bottles with embossed hearts by Sejal Ceramics – available here

What are your most popular pieces? My favourite are the planters, they look like such pretty gifts too.
My most popular pieces have to be the mini bottles with the little red rose, and both the hanging and thrown planters. They are definitely my favourites too!

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Can you tell us about your studio? 
My studio space was originally the garage. It was then made into a study, before becoming my studio. I love the fact that it’s at home and I can pop in and out whenever I want. My mum uses part of it as storage (which seems to be growing) and it sometimes creeps into my work area, but I can’t complain.

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Mini Valentine bottle with a gold embossed heart by Sejal Ceramics – available here



I did a short evening class learning basic ceramic making. I found that things you think will work don’t, and vice versa, especially when it came to glazing a piece! Have you ever had any happy accidents? 

I haven’t come across any happy accidents yet but, yes, ceramics can be very unpredictable and you never really know how a piece is going to turn out until the final firing. It can be nerve wrecking, especially when working on commissions or big orders, but that’s what I love about it. Every time I open the kiln, it’s like Christmas day – I’m sure other ceramicists would agree.

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Thrown porcelain planter embossed with a gold heart by Sejal Ceramics – available here

It’s not always easy and it can be stressful trying to juggle things, especially if you have another job on the side, but keep going!

Apart from selling your beautiful wares through the fabulous Folksy, where else do you purvey your wares? 
I have lovely stockists around the UK, in Castle Donington, Cornwall, Leicestershire and Wiltshire.

It’s always quite daunting when you first start a creative business. Do you have any advice, or inspirational quotes, that you would you give to aspiring artists? 


The first thing I would say is don’t give up! There will be times where you’ll question if it’s worth carrying on, but persevere. You may not see the rewards in the early stages but it will all be worth it if you put in the work. It’s not always easy and it can be stressful trying to juggle things, especially if you have another job on the side, but keep going! Make goals you want to hit throughout the year too – goals will help keep you on track and working towards something, keeping you focused. Stay positive and BELIEVE!

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Kilns aside, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Do you have any creative pastimes or do any dare-devil sports?! 
Apart from spending time with family and friends, I love to exercise, mainly bodyweight training, and when things start to get a little busy and I need to clear my head, meditation is my go-to!

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If you could own any other artist’s work, who would you pick and why? 

It would have to be a Zuli Stannard piece. She is a Leicester-based artist who works in oils and her working is amazing. I would love to own one of her paintings one day – they’re just beautiful!

What do you have planned next for Sejal Ceramics? What’s on the to-do list for 2018? 
On the to-do list is definitely to experiment with new glazes and test out some new ideas. I’m hoping to branch out in terms of stockists too, so I will be looking into that as well!

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Shop Sejal Ceramics on Folksy >

Get 10% off Sejal Ceramics with code LOVE10 before 18th February 2018. Click here to shop >

 


 

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Meet the Interviewer

The maker asking the questions this time is Hannah Elspeth Marshall from the Beach Shack Project.

You can read our interview with Hannah here.

Shop Beach Shack Project on Folksy > 

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