Sally Reilly Ceramics | About myself
'Festival' a range I designed for Heals of London

MY Work

By marrying the rigours of a careful design process with the freedom of hand making, I create pots to enhance the experience of eating and drinking. Some will be used everyday and others will be kept for special occassions.

My references are traditional wares from East and West, the Arts and Crafts movement in the UK and the Mingei revival in Japan, along with British design of the mid-20th century – Lucienne Day’s work for Heal’s being emblematic of the period.

Bowl with lavender ash glaze

Paris and apprenticeship

I served an apprenticeship in Paris at the Atelier du Cheval a l’Envers following the methods of Japanese potter Tanimoto Kei and the philosophy of Bernard Leach. We looked to Japan for inspiration, spiral wedging our clay, making our own tools and striving to make pots of quiet simplicity.

There I learned to throw “off the hump”, was taught the importance of making a pot “from the inside out” and how to turn a “kodai” or foot-ring. We studied the subtleties of oriental glazes and spent long nights firing tenmokus and celadons in the gas kiln. This unique and inspiring formative experience has influenced my work ever since.

Set of Sienna bowls, as supplied to David Mellor Shops

my first studio

There followed spells of working in potteries in Denmark, Ireland and London. Most notably at Chelsea Pottery as a production thrower and at North Street Potters in Clapham where I started to develop my own style and began to sell to the public.

In 1991 I moved to Burwell in Cambridgeshire with my partner Roger, where we rented an idyllic, if run-down, cottage and I set up my first studio in a clunch-built barn. There I began exhibiting as part of Cambridge Open Studios and started designing ranges of tableware. Sienna, the first of these, I supplied to the David Mellor shops in London, Manchester and Hathersage for over 15 years.

In my Soham studio

Soham, cambridgeshire

In 1995 we moved six miles to Soham where I swapped a damp barn for a purpose built studio where I have continued to develop ranges of tableware while taking time to create smaller collections and make one-off pieces.

For several years I was co-ordinator of Cambridge Open Studios, one of the oldest and largest in the UK. The movement brings makers and the public together as artists and craftspeople all over the country open their studios to show how their work is made. You can visit me in July during Open Studios and at other times of the year by appointment.

Storm clouds over the vines up above our house in France

BuÉ, France

In 2008 we bought a little house in Bué, in the Sancerre region in the centre of France. I first fell in love with France when I hitched a lift to Paris in 1978 and I am very happy to be rekindling the affair.

We are surrounded by vines and winemakers and are a stone’s throw from the famous Pottery village of La Borne.

In my rather rudimentary, but soon to be renovated, studio I work up new ideas and fine tune others. It is proving to be quite an inspirational place for me. Maybe it’s the Sauvignon Blanc!

On the Périférique around Paris

between countries

Technology allows me to be in two countries at once. Regular customers can get in touch by email to arrange a studio visit or ask for a pot to be posted. I can process application forms for shows wherever I am, send photos through the ether and online banking is a godsend.

In 2010 I was invited to sell my “Gala” range through notonthehighstreet.com and this will be followed by further ranges later this year. Online selling proves to be surprisingly personal, with email notes flitting back and forth and customers often sending messages of appreciation.