Renee Coombe has a favourite mug. It’s just the right weight, sits nicely in her hand and, most importantly, holds a generous amount (because really, who has time to go back and refill in the morning?). Painted by Renee’s god-daughter Sarah, it makes her morning cup of tea something extra special.
“The Little White Box was an idea born from that very cup of tea. The fear that one day I could lose or break my mug made me set about creating the ‘country mug’ and progressively more ideas brewed (mind the pun) from that.”
What do you make?
Ceramics – from cups and saucers, mugs and teapots to ceramic bunting and ornaments.
How did you get into your craft?
A truly inspiring art teacher. She would teach, travel the world in holidays and share her experiences with young minds so I never doubted once that I was going to be an art teacher. With the birth of my son I realized that it was time for me to get back to ‘making’. So I threw in my Head of Department job in London and made the move home. With the help of my husband we converted an old stables into a studio and The Little White Box was born.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I have a Bachelor of Creative Industries and Bachelor of Education.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Slip casting plays an important role in my work but this year I’m revisiting working with slabs and hump/slump molds. I’m letting go of the reins and moving towards more bespoke one-off pieces.
What inspires you?
Inspired by the great Victorian potters of Stoke-on-Trent, I got caught up in the romantic notion of handmade craftsmanship and set about making functional ceramic tableware. With that came ceramic ornaments and little pieces that make beautiful additions to any home.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
My work is forever changing, so it’s more about different techniques that I love to explore. If there was a philosophy behind my work it is more about a love of handmade. Craft makes our homes more human and it speaks of concentration and love with which the object was made. What I love most about ‘handmade’ is that it carries the imprint of the hands that made it.
Describe your workspace:
‘The Pit’ – as my husband has aptly named it! – is my office space that I share with my four year old. My studio is the total opposite and everything has a place and bench space is kept clean. It has to, as dust sometimes causes havoc with some of my processes.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
The beauty of creating ceramic ornaments is that you create pieces for weddings, for births, for holidays – especially Christmas so I get to share special moments in people’s lives.
The most memorable feedback I’ve received is a job I did for a university who sent Red Heart teacups and saucers filled with goodies for their staff in Christchurch. I was forwarded about 25 anonymous thank yous – here are two of my favourites:
“Many thanks for the lovely package I received today. It will be my special tea cup and much used as we lost many of our contents in our home through breakage and damage from the recent earthquake. I am so lucky to have a home that is still intact, but don’t have the time nor energy to replace our items. Your thoughtfulness is much appreciated.”
“Hi – just having a cup of tea from a cup with a saucer – a rare experience these days – many thanks for the gifts and thoughts.”
A favourite quote:
This one is about to make an appearance in my work:
Inside us all
Is an Adventure
Do you have any pets?
Charlie, our two year old black lab x border collie and four Brown Shaver hens: Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cardamon and Ginger
What was the last handmade item you bought?
I’m a regular at Crafternoon Tea in Kingsland selling my wares but I end up buying just as much. I have to mention all my purchases last visit as I was going to Oz for my brother’s wedding: The Little Card Factory “When your world turns upside down – it’s good to have someone with you” card, a ‘Lopsy Bunny’ print from Ella Quaint, ‘The Fabulous Mr Fox’ grey purse from Alex O & Co and Cowboys Golden Book bunting from Absolutely Alice – (all presents for nieces and nephews!).
Renee is generously giving away a set of her beautiful Love Bird ornaments to one lucky Felt customer! Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered into the draw to win these gorgeous decorations. The winner will be drawn on Friday 12 April. The draw is open to New Zealand residents only.