A collection of Irish gifts by Sarah McKenna made in her Dundalk studio with 20+ years of experience in Irish pottery, Irish ceramics and personalised gifts.
“I make pottery and tiles from beautiful soft slabs of clay impressed with textured wallpaper and stamped with words. I love the nostalgia and sentimental and you can see that in all my work. I want these pieces to give daily reminders of the good things in your life. My pieces are the sum of many small details, the textures impressed into each slab of clay, the simple line drawings, the text that is imprinted with hot metal letterpress typeface, the wash of colours – some pieces also includes 18ct gold lustre.”
Everyone wants to give a gift that makes people happy, little reminders of joy once known.
My style or my design aesthetic if that’s not too highfalutin has three main details
Pattern – I use wallpapers and latex moulds to texture all my slabs so I am starting with a base that is already decorative on its own.
Overlaps – when working with patterns in 3D you come across joins where the pattern will never ever match so rather than try to hide or conceal this occurrence I have made a feature of where the soft clay overlapped to form the bowls and vases.
Messages – with simple line drawings, glossy red hearts and old-style letterpress stamps, I add messages to the clay.
I am continuously learning lessons from my making. Sometimes it’s fast, hard learning curves, and sometimes it is painfully slow realisations. As a creative person, I have lots of ideas, and sometimes they jump in a completely new direction with a tiny tenuous link to what I have made before, and sometimes they are just too much, all the ideas at once. Honing these ideas and pulling them back to their simplest forms is probably my creative practice’s best learning.
It can be very simple and still work.
I believe what I am making is reminders, it’s nothing you don’t already know, but I am putting them in solid visual form to anchor that feeling every day.
I believe that what we do should positively impact the planet, so my pieces are designed to last the test of time to be enjoyed by our children with little effect on our environment.
I value pieces made by hand, and I think the skill and love live on in the creation.
I value my customers and supporters; each like, comment, referral and purchase makes me smile and helps me keep the wheels turning.
I have made a huge effort to lower the impact of my packaging on the planet, it is plastic-free, recycled material where possible and fully recyclable. I use brown kraft cardboard and paper in all my packaging because these pieces are for everyone, every day – not for fancy special occasions. I use honeycomb paper which is a super alternative to bubble wrap and plain brown boxes and paper, with less initial processing and easier to recycle.
I started drawing little houses on the parcels when I couldn’t get my stickers during lockdown 1.0 and I love them so they stayed, I hope you love them too!
Sarah McKenna has been developing her unique handmade Irish pottery at Bridge Street Studios since 1999. Before returning to Dundalk she studied Ceramics at Duncan of Jordonstone College of Art & Design, the University of Dundee, Scotland where she gained a Bachelor of Ceramic Design.
Sarah’s work has always been engaged in the process and In 2006 Sarah started producing a range of textured and pattern ceramics giftware which is the beginning of what you can purchase today.
When not in her in my 250-year-old studio space, she is a mother of two boys and wife to a hairy musician. In her “spare time” she is a Scout Leader in her home town of Dundalk.