Meet the Maker – Shelly Lee
Shelly Honey from By Shelly Lee is a potter based in Devon, known for creating gorgeous decorative pieces in porcelain and her signature button bowls and jugs. Shelly’s ceramics are joyful with a lightness of touch that’s echoed in her use of soft pastel hues, organic shapes and delicate patterns. Here, Shelly talks to fellow Devon artist and maker, Hesta from Bodkin Creates, about her journey to becoming a full-time maker, the furry companion who hops around her garden studio and the inspiration behind her work…
Enjoy 20% off all Shelly’s ceramics for a limited period with discount code ’20SPRING’ – click here to shop By Shelly Lee on Folksy >
I finally took the leap of faith in 2011, left my part time job as a chef and become a full-time maker. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.Shelly Honey, By Shelly Lee
Hi Shelly! Could you introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
Hi! I’m Shelly Honey 36, I live in Devon in a little village on edge of Dartmoor with my two children, husband and rabbits. I’m a potter, I work with porcelain clay and make decorative and functional ceramic pieces.
Pottery has always been my true passion.Shelly Honey, By Shelly Lee
How long have you been a maker?
I’ve always been a maker. I remember as a child I used to get so passionate about crafting projects, whether it was at school or something at home. My daughter is just the same – it’s a joy to watch her create and watch her ideas come to life. Pottery has always been my true passion.
I first started doing pottery at school, which led on to me doing a ceramics degree in 2000, but I didn’t launch my pottery business until 2011. For years after my degree I wanted to start doing ceramics again and then I finally took the leap of faith, left my part time job as a chef and become a full-time maker. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I’m such a messy worker that I’m grateful to have a space away from the house, or else everything would be covered in clay!Shelly Honey, By Shelly Lee
Where do you create?
All my pottery is done in my little garden workshop shed, which I share with one of a rabbits. He’s nine this year. I’m such a messy worker that I’m grateful to have a space away from the house, or else everything would be covered in clay! I’ve been known walk clay into the house on many occasions – I’m just thankful it washes out easily.
Where do you get the ideas for your designs?
A lot of my inspiration comes from texture and pattern. I love patterns. I like to visit National Trust buildings and admire the old wallpapers, flooring and carved woodwork.
I also have a love of French chic and buttons. I used to craft things out of buttons, from frames to shoes and jewellery, so when I stared my pottery business I knew I had to incorporate them into my pieces. I still use buttons a lot, especially on my signature button jugs and mugs.
I love that with clay you essentially have a lump of mud that you can change into a lamp, a mug, a plate and even jewellery.Shelly Honey, By Shelly Lee
What do you love about working with clay?
Clay is the most fascinating medium to work with. It’s so therapeutic. I’ve held a few pottery classes in the past and everyone comments on how much they enjoy handling the clay. I love that you essentially have a lump of mud that you can change into a lamp, a mug, a plate and even jewellery.
With a bit of imagination you can make almost anything with clay. It’s magical like that.Shelly Honey, By Shelly Lee
Opening the kiln after a glaze firing has to be my favourite part of the process (as long as it fires ok!): seeing your finished products for the first time is like Christmas but 100% better. With a bit of imagination you can make almost anything with clay. It’s magical like that.
All my pottery is done in my little garden workshop shed, which I share with one of a rabbits. He’s nine this year.Shelly Honey, By Shelly Lee
What top tip would you give a fellow maker starting out?
Go for it! If in doubt, ask for help or even look on the internet. If you’re not sure what craft you want to specialise in, then see what workshops are being held in your area and try them out. Most importantly, be brave and believe in yourself.
Who has been an inspiration to you and why?
Vicky Hawley is a fellow Devon-based artist who works in felt and makes the most extraordinary and intricate landscapes. The detail in her pieces blows me away. Looking at them brings me such joy. Ceramicist Laura Lane is another inspiration. I love her pots and own a few myself. I love the simplicity of her blue-and-white Cornish designs and her eco ethos: working with local clay and even making her glazes from the leftover wood ash.
My favourite flower is the daisy… I love the spring for when nature wakes up and the flowers are budding, and summer for all the colours.Shelly Honey, By Shelly Lee
What’s your favourite season and flower?
My favourite flower is the daisy but I’m not sure I have a favourite season. I love the autumn for its change of colours, the spring for when nature wakes up and the flowers are budding, and summer for all the colours.
Treat yourself to 20% off all Shelly’s ceramics (or get your mum something lovely made by Shelly for Mother’s Day) – just use discount code ’20SPRING’