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Sllip The Ceramic Shepherdess

August 24, 2020

Sarah Louise Lynch is the creator and maker of Sllip. Her initials cleverly form the name and nature of her company, as Sarah is a ceramist who works predominantly with Stoneware, Porcelain and Sheep ! Also a member of the Northern Potters Association. I got in touch to find out more.

Hi Sarah, can I start by asking when did you first get interested in clay?

I was lucky enough to have a very inspiring art teacher in high school and from memory, I assume she was a keen potter. She took me under her wing and encouraged me in not just art & pottery, but in encouraging self-belief.  She got permission for me to take my art O’level a year early, just so that I could do a pottery O’level the following year. I loved my pottery teacher, (Mrs Pickerill) and still have the pot she awarded me, for what I don’t quite remember but I think I was teacher’s pet lol.

It was such a shame that my art foundation course did not have a ceramic side. It wasn’t until I was working as a clothes designer in my mid 20’s did I revisit clay by attending a night school class with my manager. I was so pleased I was better than her (ha ha). The classes phased out and the next time I got to ‘play’ was when my son was about seven. I took him along to an evening class and for a while he enjoyed playing with clay too, but it wasn’t long before football took over his interests. I attended my pottery teacher Jayne’s classes for quite a few years, one day a week when I could, until I came across an advert for a kiln for sale locally. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, I had never fired clay before and hadn’t attended any classes but hey, I bought it!

I Googled and read a lot and just basically had a go. I thanked Jayne for all that she taught me, left her class and converted a bedroom to a studio and haven’t looked back.

Here’s some of Sarah’s early work.

And the lady herself…

How did your interest, (nay obsession lol) with sheep first begin ? Have you ever considered having your own sheep ?

Yes okay so I’m obsessed with sheep, but I’m not quite sure what the catalyst was or exactly when it happened or in fact, if there ever was one.

Perhaps there were a number of factors in the formation of the obsession. Firstly, by then my son was playing football at a high standard and we would take him all over the country to play. During these lovely family outings, there would be plenty of sheep to spot and time to sit and observe their behaviours (from the car window of course). I had also finished my Owl project (see first photo in this post) and so had been looking for a new subject to make.

At first I really struggled. Sketching sheep in the fields is not easy and as soon as you’ve put pen to paper, they’ve moved again. I was finding it difficult, especially with modelling the sheep heads, when my friend drew me a sheep during her cancer art therapy classes and told me I wasn’t to give up.

I was very determined to succeed and these woollies weren’t going to get the better of me !

I have made internet friends with lots of wonderful sheep owners that now give me my daily fix of these beautiful creatures and I’m delighted to say I’ve recently found a lady near to my home that rescues local unwanted sheep. I hope to visit frequently as I’m not in a position to own any sheep myself ……just yet.

Where do you mostly sell your work ?

During lockdown I was furloughed for four months. I normally only have a Friday to potter, but five days a week for four months was a small blessing for me during these very difficult times. I’m really pleased to say that the extra time allowed me to not only make more pottery sheep, develop my flock and take time to learn more about social media. I have grown my Instagram accounts @sllipblog and @pottery_sheep_for_gift and opened my nuMONDAY online shop. I have since sold members of the Sllip flock to the USA, throughout the UK and Europe and one little woolly travelled as far as Tasmania !

I’m not surprised they have been so popular, just look at these stunning porcelain creations.

I can see that Sarah has a strong love of colour / texture and a wonderful eye for composing her ceramics to make them look so amazing.

Obviously Covid has meant that artists have had to reconsider their selling options for a while as places and fairs have mostly been online. In a Covid free world, is there anywhere you would love to showcase your work, gallery or exhibition wise ?

In a Covid free world and assuming I had the time to commit to putting on a really good show, I would love to be accepted by the Ruthin Craft Centre. This has always been my first ‘go to place’ to see exhibitions and demonstrations by esteemed potters.

You have make brooches, plaques, sculptures, night lights, what’s next for SLLIP ?

So far, every member of my flock has been a unique sculpture, hand made by me without the use of moulds and never twice repeated. I recently made a Dorset Horn sheep pen holder, and I could have sold it over and over again. So I often worry there are customers who miss out.  I’m therefore considering making a limited edition series instead. Also I plan to spend more time researching and sketching different sheep breeds with the aim to create them in my own unique style. However with an estimated 1000+ different distinct sheep breeds, where do I start? Actually joint favourites at the moment are Herdwick and Shetland.

I think this scrolled sheep (above) is amongst one of my favourites and lies perectly here amongst the shells.

Sarah say’s :- “Customer’s love the fact that each sheep is named. My secret is, I have to thank my husband for this. He sits with me on the couch with a glass of wine, the day after I’ve opened the kiln and we name the members of the flock that have survived the firing ordeal. This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “Baptism of fire !” Our favourite name so far has been Lilly Pickle, (if you’re quick, you can find her in my shop at nuMonday).”

Thank you Sarah for telling us about your work and the journey to get where you are today.

For more of Sarah’s woolly adventures, follow her over on Instagram here @sllipblog or to make a purchase head over to her shop here.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Deirdre O'Sullivan from Australia permalink
    August 24, 2020 8:59 am

    It’s really rather beautiful, the love she feels for these calm sheep comes out through her fingertips and into the clay she models.

    • August 24, 2020 9:49 am

      That is so true Deirdre.

      • August 29, 2020 11:19 am

        Hello Deirdre, thank you so much for your kind comments. Sheep are indeed wonderful x

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