|Small decorative ceramic bowl with purple pressed flower|
Today, in my second interview of the year with mummies who make, Melissa Choroszewska of Melissa Ceramics talks about how her creative business combines with her family life and the inspiration she draws from her native Cornish country home.
What do you make? I handmake porcelain ceramic home decor, buttons, gifts and jewellery. I work predominantly in porcelain because of the translucency of the material. Within my work I use crackle glazes, natural coloured matt glazes, and I finish off with mother of pearl lustre.
What inspires you or puts you in a creative mood? I am inspired by the countryside surrounding my home in Cornwall. I press leaves and flowers into much of my work - I love the concept of fossilising and preserving the short life and beauty of a flower or leaf for ever!What group of people is most attracted to your work? My customers tend to be slightly older people, mostly females who like to treat their family and friends to handmade items, or who like to decorate their house with handmade quality items. Also people who love to garden and love the countryside. My most popular items are my flower and leaf pressed bowls and hanging decorations.
|Fired items ready to come out of the kiln|
Where did you learn ceramics? Do you have any formal training? At 16 I went to Plymouth College of Art to do a Btec in Design Crafts, during this 2 year course I experimented with many different crafts and discovered I loved large metals and ceramics! I then went to Hereford College of Art and studied Contemporary Applied Arts. I specialised in ceramics, where I learnt the basics of handbuilding, slipcasting, mould making, etc. On graduating I moved home to Cornwall and set up my business.
How did you come to start your handmade business? I come from an arty family - Mum is a textile artist and Grandma is a printmaker, and so I always wanted to make a living from doing something crafty. Then after finishing my degree I started selling my work and it all went from there!
|Melissa at work on the dining room table|
Where are you from? Where do you work? I am from a small village called Gunnislake in the Tamar Valley in Cornwall, an area of outstanding natural beauty. I currently live in Callington a 10 min drive away, but my kiln and workshop remain at my parents' house in Gunnislake. I do much of my work from the kitchen table and my molds are kept in a shed.
Why do you love running your own creative business? What do you find most difficult about it? My favourite thing about running my own business is making money from doing something I love. Also being able to work around my 3 year old daughter - although this is getting harder as I am getting busier but I would not change it for the world. The most difficult bit for me
is that it never stops - however tired or poorly I am I have to keep working - also dragging my other half into it when he comes home from work and on weekends. I am lucky because he is so supportive!
|Small decorative bowls with pressed flowers|
What family do you have? What role do they play in your business? I have a beautiful 3 year old called Chloe, she is my little helper during the day, helping hold cellotape while I pack orders and handing the parcels over in the post office! My other half, Garry - without him my business would not be doing so well - he has a full time job, but he always helps before and after work and at weekends during busy periods packing orders, and even has been known to do some glazing and making of buttons! He also always helps me at shows!
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to make a living from their art or craft? My advice would be to go for it! There is nothing better than making a living out of something you love to do, but understand that it is not always fun - more often than not it is hard work and stressful. Research your products and take your time, sometimes the paperwork, research and marketing side of the business takes more time than the making.
|Porcelain heart hanging decoration with snowdrop|
Where can people buy the beautiful pieces that you create? I sell my work through etsy I also have a notonthehighstreet shop. I stock galleries throughout the UK including Cotehele National Trust and Cambridge Contemporary Art. I attend several local craft fairs near Christmas. I also sell through my facebook page.
Melissa is very kindly offering 10% off her beautiful items to all readers of this blog, using this code in the Melissa Ceramics etsy shop: MELISSAC1. You can find Melissa on facebook and on twitter.
|Personalized heart buttons|
At ByElsieB I am working up to a big launch of a new product for children. To be in the first privileged group to hear about it (and get the biggest discount available) just put your email address in the box below. You will also receive a baby gift guide, 10% off in my shop and emails keeping you informed of future new products, special offers and general happenings in my handmade world.