Meet Francisca Lepeley, Hand Decorator at Morris & James

Meet Francisca Lepeley, Hand Decorator at Morris & James

It’s the hands-on craftsmanship that makes Morris & James pottery distinctive and individually unique, right down to the last layer of glaze before a finished piece is fired in the kiln.

That’s where Chilean-born, Morris & James Hand Decorator, Francisca Lepeley comes in. On any given day you’ll find her gently applying her craft to pots, panels and wall hangings, turning raw clay into beautiful works of art. Her favourites are the follies, or wall hangings, especially the kingfisher.

The craft not only involves a steady, artistic hand, but also a deep understanding of the ways in which glazes interact with each other. Brilliant colours are applied first, then darker or metallic glazes to bring out the minute details. Layer after layer the process continues until the piece is finished and ready for the kiln.

Even with her years of experience, mistakes happen, but Fran finds these often lead to interesting new finishes and unexpected results. Not all mistakes are bad!

When the decorating is done, you’ll also find Fran making mugs and bowls in the jigger jolly, or loading the electric kiln to fire her works. She may also be in the showroom chatting to visitors who have come to look at her creations.

Fran has lived in the area, and worked at Morris & James, for four years. It’s both the people and the place that hold her to our community. She loves the contagious good fun around the decorating table, working with talented artists who inspire each other. She also loves New Zealand’s native bush and beachland, in abundance around the Matakana Coast. At home you’ll find some of that inspiration preserved in the Morris & James artworks she holds dear - particularly her first ever Kingfisher follie that she glazed, and a Tui Bead pot hand glazed by her fellow decorator Jacs Connelley.

Look out for Fran’s work next time you’re in the showroom. You can spot her creations by looking for the ‘f’ on the back of flat ceramics, or inside the pots where she has signed them.