Home Interviews Love is in the Air Dry Clay – meet the maker behind Ello Mello Handmade
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Love is in the Air Dry Clay – meet the maker behind Ello Mello Handmade

by Camilla

Meet the Maker: Katie Sharpe from Ello Mello Handmade

Katie Sharpe from Ello Mello Handmade road tested a multitude of crafts before discovering air dry clay. The material drew her in with its simplicity but also the many possibilities it offered for creating small, beautiful and tactile decorations for the home, and soon her spare room had been taken over by cutters, tools, paints, brushes and lustres. Katie talks to fellow Folksy seller Lou Barnes from Yarntistry about the inspiration behind her pieces, and why her dream studio doesn’t need to be big but does preferably come with a mountain view…

Use code MAKER10 for 10% off all Ello Mello Handmade products until the end of February 2019. Click here to shop >

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I’ve always had a creative side and tried all kinds of crafts before I picked up clay about three years ago.

Hi Katie! Tell everyone a little bit about yourself and your beautiful creations…

I’m Katie, I live in Cambridgeshire and work from my home studio creating home decor pieces using air-dry clay. I’ve always had a creative side and tried all kinds of crafts before I picked up clay about three years ago. I run Ello Mello Handmade around my day job and have an amazing husband and daughter who are both encouraging and supportive (and helpful when things get busy!)

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Birdhouse Hanging Decoration in Turquoise by Ello Mello Handmade – available here

I love to create things that are beautiful to look at but that are also tactile and ideal for smaller spaces.

Your work has such a calming, rustic feel to it. What inspires you?

I love to create things that are beautiful to look at but that are also tactile and ideal for smaller spaces. I love using Pinterest to keep up with colour and design trends, and I’m always on the lookout for different textures.

Turquoise and Copper Ring Dish by Ello Mello Handmade – available here

I bought some metallic copper acrylic paint a couple of years ago and from that stemmed my favourite make, which is a beautiful turquoise and copper ring dish that has a paisley pattern embossed into it.

What’s your favourite thing to make?

I love to make my ring dishes – they started off as a bit of an experiment but turned out beautifully! I bought some metallic copper acrylic paint by chance a couple of years ago and from that stemmed my favourite make, which is a beautiful turquoise and copper ring dish that has a paisley pattern embossed into it.

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Katie uses the dry brushing technique to add lustre to her ring dishes – available here

I love adding the dry brushing to highlight the texture and make it stand out, it’s a simple technique but really effective.

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Copper Star Decoration by Ello Mello Handmade – available here

I was in a craft shop one day and saw some air-dry clay, so bought it and had a go at making some Christmas decorations. I loved the outcome and my passion for it grew from there.

What led you to clay?

When I was on maternity leave I dabbled with lots of different crafts, from knitting and crochet to baking and card making, but I never felt an affinity with any of them. I was in a craft shop one day and saw some air-dry clay, so bought it and had a go at making some Christmas decorations. I loved the outcome and my passion for it grew from there.

Soon I was experimenting with different shapes and colours, and investing in paints, tools and cutters – which have now all taken over a whole room to become my workspace.

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My current workspace is our spare room and although it’s a small room I’ve squeezed in three desks and it has everything I need.

If you had unlimited funds to create your dream workspace, what would it be like?

My current workspace is our spare room and although it’s a small room I’ve squeezed in three desks and it has everything I need. I like to think I keep it tidy but my husband may have a different opinion! At least once a month I spend an evening cleaning it from top to bottom, because sanding is messy and clay dust gets EVERYWHERE!

So my dream workspace doesn’t need to be big – a little cabin in the woods or in the mountains overlooking a pretty lake would be perfect!

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My dream workspace doesn’t need to be big – a little cabin in the woods or in the mountains overlooking a pretty lake would be perfect!

How do you like to spend your time when you’re not creating such lovely items for your shop?

I’m mum to a busy nine year old, so a lot of my time is spent in dance or karate waiting rooms but I make the most of it and work on the aspects of my business that I can do from my laptop, like keeping my social media up to date. I’m a huge fan of American TV shows and can usually be found watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, Veep, The Office or Parks and Recreation of an evening!

If I could have one of my pieces hanging in anyone’s house, it would be Amy Poehler, for sure.

If you could have one of your pieces adorning the home of any famous person, living or dead, who would it be?

Amy Poehler, for sure! I loved watching her present Making It with Nick Offerman last year and she also plays Leslie Knope, my favourite character in Parks and Recreation (who is also a bit of a craftsperson and has a love of scrapbooking!) 

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I love to create bespoke pieces for customers, so it’s always an honour to be trusted to bring a customer’s idea to life for them.

What aspect of your work are you most proud of?

There are so many! I get a real sense of pride when I see a customer posting about their purchase on social media or when a good review is given. I love to create bespoke pieces for customers, so it’s always an honour to be trusted to bring a customer’s idea to life for them. Having a couple of my ring dishes featured in the recent Folksy Christmas animation was definitely a highlight too!

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What piece of advice would you give to somebody just starting out with a creative business?

Never stop learning. It can be scary starting out – you’ve made the product, you’ve opened your shop but now you need to get people to look (and buy!) and that’s not easy. There’s lots to learn, from social media to SEO and photography and writing descriptions, as well as legalities such has tax and insurance. There are some great free resources out there that will help tremendously – I watched a lot of YouTube videos to learn more about SEO when I started out.  

Navy Blue and Copper Paisley Ring Dish by Ello Mello Handmade – available here

I’ll be working with lots of new colours this year and developing my range to include clay letterpress designs


What can people expect to see from you in 2019?

I’ll be working with lots of new colours, and developing my range to include clay letterpress and photograph designs. 

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Use code MAKER10 for 10% off all Ello Mello Handmade products until the end of February 2019. Click here to shop >


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 Meet the interviewer

The maker asking this questions this time is quilt Lou Barnes from Yarnistry.

Read our interview with Lou here – https://blog.folksy.com/2019/01/21/yarntistry

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