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Pip Meadows Elliot from The Tipsy Moth Pottery

Meet the Maker – The Tipsy Moth Pottery

by Folksy

Meet Pip Meadows Elliot from The Tipsy Moth Pottery

Pip Meadows Elliot from The Tipsy Moth Pottery is a potter based in Saffron Walden, Essex, who makes beautiful, whimsical ceramic homeware and jewellery, often illustrated with delicate icing-like drawings of insects, animals, flowers or fungi. Her pieces are made in small batches, decorated in watercolour-style glazes and fired in her garden, keeping as close to old firing methods as possible. Here she talks to Susan from Susan Betty Art about her dream of having a sustainably-powered pottery and why she believes it’s important to focus on creating beautiful, high-quality things that make your heart happy.

Use code gorgeous for 20% off The Tipsy Moth Pottery during June 2024

Shop The Tipsy Moth on Folksy

The pottery was a big new fresh start for me, so I liked the image of a butterfly but as a real insomniac who works a lot at night, I thought the idea of a moth would be more apt.

Pip, The Tipsy Moth Pottery

Hello Pip. It’s lovely to have this opportunity to ask you some questions about your work. Can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you make?

I’m Pip and I run the Tipsy Moth Pottery, which is basically a collection of sheds in my nettle-infested garden! 

Garden shed studio of the Tipsy Moth Pottery

When I was 16 I started making wedding cakes and cookies as a hobby. I loved modelling the flowers and painting floral designs on the cake fondant and painting with icing on the cookies. But wedding cakes are very stressful to make. (One summer I had to fight an army of wasps off a huge bowl of lavender icing!) Pottery had been my passion at school but I was always put off by the huge expense of an electric kiln. Then one day during lockdown I saw a video of someone firing pottery in a garden rubbish bin. I couldn’t believe it, and that sent me off on a tangent, investigating the possibilities of alternative firing methods.

Tipsy Moth Pottery kiln

Within six months I had build several experimental kilns in my garden and was on the road to setting up the pottery, using cardboard and wooden pallets as fuel instead of electricity and, of course, I wanted to make my pots look like they were painted with delicious icing!

Where did your shop name originate?

The pottery was to be a big new fresh start for me, so I liked the image of a butterfly but as a real insomniac who works a lot at night, I thought the idea of a moth would be more apt. And tipsy? A personal joke really – one of my health issues leaves me with balance problems, so instead of being a gypsy moth, I’d be a tipsy one. 

Hand-painted ceramic toadstool mugs by the Tipsy Moth Pottery

Where (or who) did your love of crafting come from?

My 83-year-old mum has always been a maker. I’m not sure there’s anything she couldn’t do. She’s currently making a bedspread and curtains for her bedroom. She sat us kids down at the table to draw every rainy day. Now my sister is an amazing artist and my brother an artisanal woodworker. I’m quite surprised the dog didn’t become blacksmith, to be honest!

Hand-painted ceramics by the Tipsy Moth Pottery

Your love of nature and the natural world seem to be key features in all your makes. I’m especially drawn to your trinket dishes and cups featuring animals. Can you talk a bit about your inspiration? Where do your designs start? 

I was always a little lacking in confidence in my artistic abilities when I was younger (my sister is literally Michelangelo) so once I had children I would copy the beautiful illustrations in their books: Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck and the beautiful trees of the Hundred Acre Wood in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. The soft, muted watercolours seemed so soothing and peaceful. 

Hand-painted ceramics by the Tipsy Moth Pottery

People have been making things from clay for thousands of years. They would dig it up from a riverbed, mould it into shape, decorate it with minerals and stick it in a fire to harden it. It has to be the most eco-friendly production method of all time. It only got more complicated once we needed to mass produce it in factories.

Pip, The Tipsy Moth Pottery

It’s clear that you have a real passion for the environment. Can you tell us more about how you incorporate principles of sustainability and caring for the planet into your decision-making process and actions? 

People have been making things from clay for thousands of years. They would dig it up from a riverbed, mould it into shape, decorate it with minerals and stick it in a fire to harden it. It has to be the most eco-friendly production method of all time. It only got more complicated once we needed to mass produce it in factories. I’m trying to keep as close to the older methods as I can. I’d really love to have a completely sustainably-powered pottery. That’s in my plan as I move forward. I also try my best to upcycle any of my products that don’t work out as planned into candle or plant pots, or even mosaics!

Hand-painted ceramic strawberry earrings by the Tipsy Moth Pottery

Please introduce us to one of your favourite crafting tools. What does it do and how do you use it?

I’ve recently been learning basic silversmithing, so that I can really improve the quality of my porcelain jewellery. I get to use a blowtorch to solder silver elements together. I love using fire and heat to change the chemical elements of materials: clay becomes ceramic, powdery glaze turns to shiny glass, silver becomes soft and bendy. I find it fascinating!

Hand-painted ceramics by the Tipsy Moth Pottery

What ideas do you have for your next creative project? 

Ah, ideas are a huge problem, as I have far too many! I have ADHD so my brain is literally buzzing all the time. I often wake up in the middle of the night and start jotting things down, sometimes I even sneak out to the pottery with a cup of cocoa! I recently watched a beautiful Studio Ghibli film, painted in watercolours. I’d love to explore making a range of tea bowls painted in a similar style, with pretty cherry blossom, wild berries and autumn leaves.

Hand-painted ceramics by the Tipsy Moth Pottery

When is your favourite time to create, and how do you split your time between crafting and all the other important things you have to do?

My brain works best at night but my body has long since given up by then, so hefting bags of clay and firewood are best done in the morning, and painting later on. I have been known to work a 14-hour day if there’s nothing to stop me, but as I’m a mum of four and a carer, I’m rarely free to indulge in such luxury! I’m happiest with clay-covered clothes and woodsmoke in my hair.

Inside the garden shed studio of the Tipsy Moth Pottery
Inside the garden shed studio of the Tipsy Moth Pottery

We get given so many tips on making more and more money. I’d say focus on making beautiful, high-quality things that make your heart happy.

Pip, The Tipsy Moth Pottery

Do you have any tips you’d like to share on how to get and stay motivated for crafting?

We get given so many tips constantly, on how things should be done, focusing mainly on making more and more money. I’d say focus on making beautiful, high-quality things that make your heart happy. The rest will follow if you keep going!

Shop The Tipsy Moth on Folksy

Use code gorgeous for 20% off The Tipsy Moth Pottery throughout June 2024


Susan Betty Art - Scottish landscape paintings

Meet the interviewer

The maker asking the questions this time is Susan from Susan Betty Art – an artist based near Angus in Scotland who paints landscapes and seascapes inspired by her Scottish surroundings.

Shop Susan Betty Art on Folksy – https://folksy.com/shops/SusanBettyArt

Read more about Susan in her own Meet the Maker interview – Meet the Maker – Susan Betty Art

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