Sarah Jeffrey - founder of ceramics studio Haar East
We were delighted to be able to use some of Sarah Jeffrey’s work during the Salt-Water press launch earlier this year. Sarah set up her ceramic studio, Haar East, in 2018. She prefers to hand-build rather than using a wheel or moulds which means every piece she creates is unique. Sarah is self taught in ceramics (and painting) but takes a similar approach to both forms, carving structure and developing layers in her work.
WHY HAAR EAST?
I use the name Haar East for my company as I’m from Edinburgh (though have now lived in London for over a decade) where we are frequently hit by a ‘haar’ in Summer; a dense sea mist which cloaks the city. The colour, saturated light and texture of the haar felt very appropriate for the tones I am drawn to in my work.
DESCRIBE YOUR PROCESS.
I make each piece by pinching, coiling and shaping to create structure, volume and texture. It’s a very traditional and slow process, but I love the freedom of it and the organic nature of the forms I can create.
WHERE DO YOU WORK?
I work on my ceramics from a small studio shed in my garden and still work four days a week for a charity – bridging the gap between the ‘do something useful’ and the ‘do something beautiful’ I guess!
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I work in a pretty unstructured way, so shapes tend to evolve as I work on them. I think the roots of them lie in a lot of ancient pottery I’ve seen in museums and I definitely borrow a lot from the shapes of leaves, bulbs and flowers. I find that the more complex the shapes I make, the simpler and more pared back I want the glazes and finishes to be, so I gravitate towards a very muted palette.
IS THERE ONE THING YOU'VE EVER MADE THAT YOU WOULD NEVER SELL OR GIVE AWAY?
No I don’t think so, I find it completely wonderful to think of my work ending up in someone else’s home, so I’m generally happy for them to head off into their new lives! Some pieces are definitely harder to let go of than others though and I’m currently pretty attached to a couple of paintings which will be hard to give up.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK?
I studied English literature at university so feel I should come out with something very profound and intellectual, but I think it’s probably Roald Dahl’s Boy. I read and re-read it as a child and still love it.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE SEASON?
Late spring when the garden is brimming with new growth. The vivid greens, spring flowers and long evenings are magical. I’m a very keen, if not entirely proficient, gardener and lose hours of my evenings to pottering around our tiny garden and getting disproportionately excited about whatever has grown or flowered.
WHAT HOME TRENDS DO YOU PREDICT FOR THE NEAR FUTURE?
I’ve been really pleased to see the shift towards more mindful consumption in homewares - more vintage, more hand-crafted, more considered purchases and less mass-produced ‘fast-fashion’ items. The UK has an incredible wealth of talented designers and makers so it’s wonderful to see the support they’re starting to get.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR ANYONE VISITING EDINBURGH?
I was brought up right next to Arthur’s Seat and would say that a walk up there, or along Salisbury Crags, is an essential part of any visit. It’s a ridiculous bit of nature to have right in the middle of a capital city and we’re very lucky to be able to enjoy such a beautiful spot. A walk along the Waters of Leith, stopping in Stockbridge to get snacks before continuing along to the Gallery of Modern Art is a great way to spend a couple of hours too – and you can perv at all the beautiful houses along the way!
ANY EXCITING PLANS FOR HAAR EAST THAT YOU CAN TELL US ABOUT?
I’m working on a couple of new collections and with some new international stockists, so that should keep me pretty busy for the next couple of months playing with new shapes and textures.
AND FINALLY, WHERE WILL YOU BE WEARING YOUR SALT-WATERS THIS SUMMER?
They’re so comfortable for walking and perfect for endless pottering around my neighbourhood, but we’re also off to Calabria in June so they’ll get some proper Italian sun and beach time!
You can follow Sarah and see more of her work on Instagram @haar_east