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How a designer got her big break by smashing up crockery

Old plates are given new life as homeware and jewellery

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How a designer got her big break by smashing up crockery

August 25 2010
Victoria Woodcock

In the tradition of plate smashing – from the flamboyant Greek custom to Gaudí’s mosaic-making – Lucie Beeston’s take on it is somewhat unique. In her hands, well-loved but chipped and broken plates are given a new lease of life as jewellery and homeware. And she’s willing to smash up your old and damaged crockery, too – bespokely, of course.

Working out of a shed-cum-studio at the end of her garden in the village of Holbrook, Suffolk, Beeston created the Lucie Ellen line of “lovely things to wear and use” after quitting her graphic design degree. “I wanted to do something more craft-based,” she explains. “I started making rather crude jewellery out of bits of plastic, and things have, thankfully, progressed from there.”

One particularly ingenious idea – and my particular favourite – is her coasters created from vintage crockery (pictured). Her method of plate deconstruction, perfected after “a lot of broken plates, cut fingers and tantrums”, bears forth elegant and simple, square or circular coasters that are given a cork base. Quirkily, she usually prefers to turn up the underside of the plate, displaying its stamp of origin (a feature that’s especially of interest to pottery fans) – but bespoke clients can, of course, specify which design details they wish to focus on (from £14). Offcuts need not be wasted, either, as Beeston refashions smaller china segments into brooches (from £8), either delicately cutting around a certain motif or framing an interesting area in an abstract shape.

“There is obviously a slight risk involved,” warns Beeston when clients are sending sentimentally-charged pieces her way. “Certain things, such as unseen hairline cracks and the age of the plate, may mean that the original piece gets broken in the process.” However, the detailed and delicate descriptions of each one-off piece on her website are testament to the sensitivity and respect she has for the original vintage items.