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Meet the narrowboat ceramicist making tableware for London’s top chefs

With so many makers producing streams of beautiful ceramics, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. But if living and selling your wares on a 55ft narrowboat wasn’t enough to pique some interest, the sheer simple beauty of Lazy Eye Ceramics, Skye Corewijn’s warm, muted wares, makes her a cut above the rest.

After approaching ceramics as a hobby a few years back, Skye’s tableware now features in some of the top restaurants in London, including The Clove Club, Typing Room and The Pilgrim Hotel. We sat down with her to talk the benefits of not rushing into things, the river Lea and the good points of getting paid in pasta and Campari.

Tell us a bit about yourself and Lazy Eye Ceramics?
Well, originally I’m from Cape Town but I’ve been living in London for nearly 10 years now – since arriving after I’d finished my BA at university excited to see a bit of the world and travel. Curiosity led me to a ceramics course in Old Street with Stuart Carey, and from the start I couldn’t get enough. Stuart was part of the initial team that set up Turning Earth in Hoxton and I became a part-time member. Some time later, I was waitressing at a restaurant called Upstairs at The Ten Bells, where the chef convinced me to make some plates for him. I made him some very average plates, but he loved them and it was an amazing feeling serving his food on them. That was the beginning of it all really.

At this time I still vaguely worked in music, waitressed, managed a small foodie market in Bermondsey and had a studio assistant job with Jess Jos. I harassed Jess to give me a job, as I was very keen to learn the technical side of a ceramics studio. Needless to say, I learned a lot about managing and running a studio there. Now I teach at that same studio, and make my ceramics at a shared space called ‘In Production at Turning Earth’ in Walthamstow.

What or who are you inspired by?
At the start, Stuart was a great teacher; his attitude to clay and the whole process really introduced me to it all in a super positive way. Since then, Jess Jos has been really inspiring, the way she approaches her business is very professional and the way she values her staff and people is something I’d like to carry into my own business one day. Her and her dad (Tony Joslin, also a potter) approach making in a way that is so natural and comes with such ease. I hope I can eventually bosh out 5kg bowls like they do. I’m also super inspired by the people I share my studio with; we’re all kind of in the same boat; early stage of our businesses. The trials and tribulations of clay are pretty hilarious sometimes. Their creativity and the different ways we all work really encourages me to do better, do different, do more. And most importantly – to not be disheartened when things go tits up.

What do you love about your job?
I love being able to fondle clay all day. I’m a pretty tactile person.

Tell us about some really stand-out collaborations or highlights so far…
Making bowls for my boyfriend’s restaurant and getting pasta and Campari instead of money…

How do you keep motivated?
I don’t know, really. I’m pretty positive in general, but I guess it’s through taking on new challenges.

What’s the one item you couldn’t live without?
Right now my heat-holder socks. My boyfriend bought me two pairs our first winter on the boat, and I don’t know what I’d do without them.

Your go-to comfort food?
Pizza, pizza, all the pizza.

What do you khoollect?
Ceramics from other people…

Your favourite item in your khoollection?
I have too many to single one out, but recently Lucia Fraser gave me a pretty psychedelic plate.

Best green space in London …
The marshes up the river Lea. When we’ve had the boat there, you can look out of the kitchen window and all you see is one train line, fields and some cows. It’s pretty magical.

Describe your perfect Sunday off …
A perfect Sunday off generally revolves around a really great meal with some beautiful people.

What’s one piece of advice you’d tell your younger self?
I’m not sure; my mom always encouraged me to ‘do my own thing’ and that’s taken me good places. Maybe I’d just reiterate that.

One piece of advice for someone wanting a career change or to go out on their own?
I’d say don’t rush it; for some people who’ve got the infrastructure to give it all up and do it, it’s fine. But for me it was so organic to end up where I am, I just went with the opportunities that presented themselves, doing something I love, and worked hard.

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Maria Bell

Maria Bell is a photographer and editor from the Isle of Wight. Talk to her about food and/or photog...

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Photos by Stephen Makin.