Ceramicist Lizzie Croucher started her independent business, croucherli, back in January 2019 after previously working part time in a pottery painting cafe in Greenwich. While Lizzie hand throws and makes each piece herself, each creation is also unique in the different facial expressions, colour or even shape.
She found her love for ceramics while studying Dance at University in South East London. It is while looking for a part time job, she came across the pottery cafe and with her final CV in hand and an interview on the spot, she got the job straight away.
Lizzie assisted customers in painting and decorating the pre-made casts during her working hours, and then started working on her break times to decorate her own pieces. Throughout her 4 years at the cafe, she developed her skills further by working into the evenings as a form of rewind from the day. Soon she was gifting her decorated pieces to family and friends as presents.
After graduating, she moved out of London to Ipswich to follow her career in community dance. Not knowing anyone in the area, Lizzie turned to ceramics as something to do in the evening as a past time. She found a local artist who held a 6 week evening course and upon completion, Lizzie then continued to work in the studio in her spare time further developing her clay skills, and so her passion for it.
In 2017, Lizzie left her dance job and moved to Colchester, at which time the new Colchester Makerspace was also opening in the town. The Makerspace is a community studio specialising in pottery, textiles and screen printing, and with 1 potter wheel (which span the way for left handed users) and 1 kiln, Lizzie started hand throwing her pieces.
Her unique style came from one day making a plain pot and not feeling as happy or inspired by the way the joyful and characteristic decorated pieces from the pottery cafe made her feel in those years before. Influenced by Copenhagen based independent business from a recent trip, Studio Arhoj, Lizzie then added a face to her next hand built pot. She describes it as a bit of a flux, as the manager of the Makerspace studios saw the characterised pot and asked to buy it. From there she made another and another and another, until now where Lizzie solely makes face pots and pieces. So much so, that her designs are instantly recognised in the local area and on social media.
When asked what drew her back to working with clay, Lizzie noted that although she enjoyed decorating the pre cast pots in the early years of the pottery cafe, she loved how long each go her pieces took to make from scratch. The more time spent working with the medium, the more books read on the craft and the more scrolling on social media, the more appreciative and interested she became of the process and art.
Along with developing her own style within her work, she has also given herself challenges along the way, with the most recent being making much larger pots than the one she currently makes and sells. Along with the increase of size, also the increase of patience is needed for the larger pieces. Although Lizzie doesn’t have a specific favourite piece she’s made to date, this larger pot may become her favourite once completes, as she tells me each new piece finished becomes her favourite to date. She doesn’t plan what she’s going to make each day, but rather what she is drawn towards. This includes not sketching designs prior, like other ceramicists and designers may do, but working with the clay to form a design she is feeling at the time. Another challenge and achievement of hers recently is for wholesale orders, in which pieces are to be more uniformed than her individual creations in terms of size and colour, but not necessarily in the facial expressions.
Being a one woman business can be difficult for some, but Lizzie takes it in her stride. After working as a full time employee for the local art gallery, she made the decision to become self employed and so can transition gently away from the full time work lifestyle and focus more on the needs of croucherli. There’s more control of the way a business can operate as well as lizzie telling me she can hold herself accountable for everything without relying on other people for her work. This gives her the self motivation for croucherli to develop and grow.
With many markets and events cancelled until further notice under the current circumstances, croucherli’s products can be found on her website as well as her Etsy page. She also sells a lot of products through her Instagram posts and stories, so it’s worthwhile giving her a follow to keep up to date with any news or events, as well as any coupons and offers being shown to Instagram followers first. She is also taking part in The Bearded Gypsy Vintage’s pop-up virtual market on the 26th April.
The Bearded Gypsy Virtual Market: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2628640070683906/
Colchester Makerspace: www.makercampus.co.uk