Craft Platforms: Case studies Elizabeth Renton – a Ceramic Artist

Elizabeth Renton - a Ceramic Artist


  • A small-sized electric kiln is used in her studio
  • Using social media Instagram to promote her craft activities
  • YouTube is a useful channel for her to learn how to make tea bowls
  • Mobile phone and computer also help her deal with craft activities such as applying for craft exhibitions and writing proposals


Figure 1: Ceramics made by Elizabeth Renton

Elizabeth is a ceramic artist living and working in West London. Her work draws inspiration from a diverse range of sources, including industrial and farming architecture and heritage crafts. She used to be a teacher and because of her passion for making and her art background, she has devoted herself to becoming a ceramic artist. She is a well-organised person who comes to her studio every working day and works regularly.  She is open to digital technologies and would like to know more.



Elizabeth uses an Electric kiln, social media (Instagram, Twitter and YouTube), and a payment card reader in her craft activities (see blue boxes of Figure 2). She would like to open an online store soon, and is open to digital technologies and would like to know more about them.

Figure 2: Digital touchpoints used by Elizabeth

Use of Digital Equipment

There is a radio, an electric (German) kiln, and a mobile phone in her studio. Elizabeth likes to listen to Radio London because it tells her what is happening in London, lots of news and some music.  She prefers the radio as she has to work quietly and concentrate. The electric kiln is controlled by a computer program which is simple and straightforward. Because of the size of her studio and the size of the studio’s door, she would not be able to buy a bigger kiln.

She has a computer at home, and uses it to apply for shows, writing proposals, and commissions. For example, she fills forms and puts photos of her work together on the computer.  She also takes lots of photographs on her smartphone, and is concerned that if people at the Internet too much then makers’ work may be influenced and become like someone else.

Figure 3: Digital equipment used in Elizabeth’s studio

Regarding 3D printing ceramics, she thinks it is interesting as an industrial way, whilst she prefers to make things by hand as she likes to touch the work whilst it is being made. She believes there are lots of process in her making and it would be good if the technology could make one step quicker.  She mentioned some people use mould to make things and decorate them by hand.  She thinks it is a decision how to make her work, and at this stage, she prefers to stick her way to make it. However, she also mentioned she is open, and she might try to use mould in her making. It depends on the number of pieces that she decides to make.

Use of Social Media

She spends more time on Instagram and does not put much time into Twitter. She prefers to use Instagram, and she thinks Twitter is more about talking about other things rather than images. She started her Instagram account 3 years ago (actually 2015) because someone suggested it to her. She does not put her personal life on social media. She thinks it is good to know people’s comments, and interacts a little bit with people on social media. It is nice to receive likes and comments. People who know her like to leave comments on her social media, but not much from strangers.

Figure 4: Screenshots of Elizabeth’s Instagram page

Use of Website Presence

Elizabeth has a personal website which she asked other people to make for her. It is a simple WordPress site which she can add pictures to.  She would like to change her website if possible, and she also mentioned it is expensive to hire someone to do it. 

Figure 5: The screenshot of Elizabeth’s website


  • Elizabeth has a payment card reader. She would like to open an online store if possible, but currently she has not got time to do that as she is busy with exhibitions. 

    Every year, she tries to get some professional photographer to take photos of her work. It costs her about £300-400. It is good to have a set of professional photos when she applies for shows. The photographer will usually send pictures to Elizabeth by Dropbox.

    Overall, Elizabeth has applied some digital platforms in her craft activities. She uses a small-sized electric kiln in the making and social media such as Instagram to promote her craft activities. She also uses a mobile phone and computer to help her deal with emails and proposals for the exhibition.


Figure 6: Elizabeth’s craft work

Elizabeth likes to make and has a qualification in Art & Design. She likes to make her own things, and was inspired by Lucie Rie, a famous artist in the 1950s-60s, when she saw the artist’s exhibition. Although she knows it is a bit of risk to be a maker, she goes for it, rents a studio, makes a collection, prepares photos and applies for exhibitions. She feels lucky that big exhibitions and shows accept her work. She prefers to do something that has a higher level, like an exhibition rather a little market or fair. She thinks middle aged people would be more likely to buy her work, partly because it is expensive compared to IKEA – people who have disposable income and more likely to purchase hand-made craft.


Elizabeth is a ceramic artist. She is open to digital technologies and would like to know more. However, she would like to use the traditional hand-made way in her making at this stage. She likes quiet, and her work gives people a sense of tranquillity and peacefulness. She has a radio and listens to radio London when she is making. She uses computers to write proposals and apply for funding and exhibitions, and uses Dropbox to receive photos of her work taken by a professional photographer. She prefers to apply for exhibitions and shows which have a higher level rather than markets and fairs. She has Instagram, and she likes to see comments on it.


Please visit the following sites to find out more about Elizabeth Renton:  




Contact Us has been produced by the project research team at Queen Mary University of London, UK, and Hunan University, China.

Contact E-mail:

For more information or to speak to the craft research team, please contact:

Prof. Nick Bryan-Kinns

School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science
Queen Mary University of London
London E1 4NS

Prof. Hao Tan

School of Design, Hunan University
Yuelu Mountain, Changsha