Ceramics, Sculpture and Jewellery by Heather Coleman

I have enjoyed this subject for over 25 years and have tried my hand at many techniques. Over time I appear to have settled on either small scale modelling or larger coiled vases and pots. On some occasions I have an idea of what I want to make although I never plan the item exactly as I often allow the work to evolve as I create it. I sometimes make life size heads and figurines. Do follow the other links on my website to see other creations in the studio and what inspires them. The images of my artwork are placed here for your enjoyment.

Please note all my designs are copyright.


Lady Figurine

The forming of a figurine is a more challenging project that takes a fair bit of time and patience but is very rewarding. When working on a project like this I will usually work during the warmer summer evenings with a candle at my side while taking in the perfume of flowers and the sound of a water feature nearby. I am often joined by my cats and toads croak in the pond.

This piece was made over a two year period while other work was being carried out. The initial statue I made during the summer of 2008 by first forming a large pillar of clay on the wheel head. From this I used the front and side profiles of a woman and cut these from the pillar using a subtraction technique rather than modelling. Following this I began to revert to a modelling technique and the arms were added to suit.
In the early stages the figure looked more like a partly finished Egyptian statue and then as I began to shape the corners the more natural human form emerged. Constant viewing from various angles allowed me to fine tune the details to look more and more life-like. The head was not added until the main portion of the body had been formed because I wanted to take more time on the facial features. The lower portion of the statue was not designed at all until I had completed the body and head because removing so much clay would have made it delicate to work on without the use of frame support. I chose to leave the base as a supportive feature carving out each fish and then turning the base on the wheel. Finally the base petals were cut. In order to hollow out the pedestal to avoid cracking of the clay the entire figure was wrapped and carefully placed on her side. Drying took many days before firing was commenced. Once fired selected areas were glazed in preperation for precious metal lustres; the fish are Gold, Platinum, Copper and Bronze. The use of wire edged lace made a nice finishing touch. The height is approx 45cm.

Group of my larger coiled vases and life sized heads.

The flower vase on the left was coiled and then marked with circles and vertical lines; each flower was then carved by hand. These large thick items have to be fired in our electric kiln very slowly indeed to avoid cracking or portions exploding due to trapped water. Some portions are up to 2 inches thick! I mainly use grogged clay for large items because it is more structural to build with and with the right choice of clay the grog adds a background colour as well as texture.

Giant Vase showing lifting cradle

The latest vase in the studio created in June 2006 was too big to lift so I had to make a cradle of bubble wrap and ropes with a post so that two people could lift it safely and place it into the kiln which is top-loading. This garden vase is about 24 inches tall with a base of 12 inches; it weighs about 4 stone after being fired! It was fired three times being once to mature the clay, the second time to take it up to a harder maturity with a partial glaze and finally to add several metallic lustres. Some shrinkage took place during this process.

A 12 inch tall vase and Egyptian Shabti figures - Nov 2005

The shape of the vase was again one that I created while I was building it. Although I had made a few sketches of the rim when it neared completion I decided to create a much heavier thick rim which I was very pleased with. Bringing the edge of the rim out to align with the curve of the vase made this piece look more well balanced in appearance. The rim is about an inch and a half thick and allows the vase to be picked up with ease. The lettering was later picked out in gold lustre and the base of the vase has a carved image which is hidden from normal viewing but is a nice surprise when the vase it turned on its side.

The smaller Egyptian shabti figures were press moulded and the larger ones slip cast. I used hard plaster for the moulds and so a master figure was created and fired first of all from which the moulds were then formed. The finished items were highlighted with glazes around the eyes and mouth and the head treated with gold lustre.

Coiled Bowls & Bird Vase. Japanese Garden Lamp.

These vases and dishes were hand thrown on the wheel to begin the base and the remainder coiled to bring them up to height. The use of a wooden rib allowed the shape to be controlled as the coils were added although sometimes I allow the coils to partly remain for effect. The rims of the bowls have a carved wheat design picked out with gold lustre and the bird vase has my design of scattering crows later picked out with platinum lustre.

The Japanese lamp design was made for a care-home garden to a requested design. I had a small sketch to start with and decided to make up my own blend of clay to get a gritty surface which would be frost resistant as well as the clay having a slightly toasted look. I rolled the clay out on a board then wrapped it around a drain pipe to form the body of the lamp and the lid was thrown on the wheel with petals carved out.

Dazzling Cornish Pasties - of pure Platinum, Gold, Bronze and Copper!

Now this is what I call real Cornish Treasure! King Arthur would have loved these.

These are Cornish pastie shapes based on real edible ones. A genuine highest quality Cornish pasty was smuggled over the border into Devon overnight in a shoe-box by a famous Cornish gentleman so that I could study it first hand for this project in my studio. It was still warm when it arrived and smelt soooo good but was sacrificed in the name of art rather than being eaten! The pasty was placed on a pedestal and studied from all directions by the artiiiist, pictures were taken and sketches made. Then it was encapsulated to create a mould! Removing the contents after the mould had set was a rather messy business (perhaps I should have left it out for the birds to peck?) but the detail of the pastie was preserved very well. Following this a smaller Cornish pasty was bought and other copies made. A cat tail and paw in the picture reveal the size of these jewels. It is rumoured that a great treasure also exists in the form of a Devon shaped pasty (with the crimping on the top edge rather than the side). It was buried somewhere in Devon not to be found for a great many years to come.

Queen Nefertiti Clay pipe

A limited number of these lavishly decorated clay pipes were made by me for collectors from 2005. I first modelled a master using images of the famous Egyptian Queen. I then created a three part plaster mould from which copies were formed. Each pipe was carefully hand worked to carve out the bowl and to bring the finer details to life. The pipes were fired and then each one hand painted with great care and fired again. A final firing was then done to add the precious metal gold lustre which leaves the details gleaming. The size of a normal clay pipe is shown in the picture so you can see how large the Nefertiti pipe is.

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Action shot...

Removing a large upturned vase from the wheel head. Oddly when I made this vase I did not plan the shape and decided that I would prefer to have the narrow portion at the base as the rim; so in a way I made the pot upside down. This vase later went on to become the bird vase that is shown below. The close-up shows it before being fired with a simple but effective bird design based on triangles. I chose a cream coloured clay with white grog for this piece.

Atlantis Amphora

I created this amphora in 2008-2009 by first throwing/coiling the shape on the wheel and then placing it upside-down to finish the base. The design I had already sketched some months earlier and decided it would look good on this project so I copied it across onto the curved surface of the pot using a paper template. I then carved and teased out the clay between the pattern. I wanted this project to have the feel of an ancient nautical civilisation, the design looking like knotted tentacles. Again this had to be fired three times and the image shows it with the final layer of pure gold.

Celtic Knot design pendants - 1999

These were made by pressing clay into a two-part mould.The original was created also from clay and the copies allow the use of differing glazes. At Dawnmist Studio we often use our own glazes and you can find a wide range available by following the links below to our shop page.

Designing and making pendants in gold and silver - 2004

For a long time I wanted to dabble with gold and silver jewellery making and had done some in evening classes when I was a teenager but not as demanding as what I wanted to achieve now. In some ways the techniques I had been using with clay could also be mimicked with real metal. Gold and silver can be bought in several forms from jewellery/bullion merchants. Silver can be etched carefully using acid to leave a design standing proud or set into the work. On these pendants a combination of casting/pouring was used as well as using pre-cut sheet. For small casts the use of cuttle fish bone is an ancient method still used to good effect.

Group of individually made Clay Tobacco Pipes

These were hand modelled as one off pieces and themes vary from wild animals to wizards, portraits and birds. HRH Prince Charles, Sir Walter Raleigh and Henry VIII are among the famous faces.
The pipes are finished with coloured glazes and in some cases I used gold, bronze and platinum precious metal finishes. These metals can be bought in a form that can be painted onto the surface of the glaze and when fired a microscopic layer of the metal binds with the surface leaving a beautiful sheen. Individual pipes like these can take several days to complete and some that I have made are now in famous collections around the world.

Flower Vase

One of my favorite vases coiled using a cream coloured stoneware clay. The flowers were pressed in a small plaster mould and stuck on with slip. Later on I glazed the flowers in gold gilding. As the vase is turned the pattern varies.