August 2020

For this month’s Ones to Watch, we want to introduce and promote our good friend Sarah Lyons and her business, Clay on Words.

Clay On Words (which will forever be a ’play on words’ vortex of a name if you over think it!)

I’m a clay artist and specialise in motivational, positive and colourful boho hanging décor. From simple plaques to more intricate pieces that take form in a dream catcher style. Many of my single plaques can be turned into keepsake greeting cards too.

Based in Stalybridge in Greater Manchester, my inspiration often comes from my home town of Manchester and my worldly travels.

Travel… the only thing you buy that makes you richer.

I started back in 2012 – I had no idea where my first makes would take me and often I look back and cringe at some of those first makes – but I’m forever growing and feel that only now am I starting to hone my style after 8 years.

It all began in the terraced house I rented back then. Kirstie’s Christmas crafts had aired and she did a small slot on a very rough looking rustic craft using polymer clay… Add to basket, click to checkout and boom! A couple of days later I too was creating this rustic clay ‘tag’.

‘This is Me’ keepsake greetings card.

At first, I just made name tags for pets, little quotes for family members and started to attach keyrings and so the product variation grew. Initially it was very much just experimental pieces for family and friends, but I took the plunge 2013 and signed up to my first market.

I knew what my stall ‘look’ would be, I wanted lots of colour and a rustic aesthetic entwined, overall a rough look that wasn’t pristine and polished, keeping it true to me and my personality, which is also reflected in my work.

‘Believe in Yourself’

I took a humble total of £2… no I haven’t mistyped – yes £2 per 1 keyring. However, rather than deter me, this spurred me on. That day I had so many compliments on my early works and the fact someone parted with their money for something I made gave me such a buzz!  (that’s the best feeling 😉)

Yet this new love and passion came with new choices, mostly regarding my work/life balance. I wanted to make this a ‘thing’, a business, a regular occurrence so to speak but I’m a full time secondary teacher and what I soon started to notice was how much I valued our well-deserved holidays. Using this time to ‘stock up!’ whilst yes still work and prep for school.

Sarah’s work space

To keep everything manageable, I keep my creative business small and stick to online sales and selected craft fairs and markets, although I am stocked in a few shops. (OnlyWillow included!) The dream would be to take that leap of going full time creative… one day!

The favourite part of my makes are when a product strikes a chord with someone, whether it sells well or makes one sale, if it genuinely means something to someone then I feel I’ve been able to support them at some point in their own journey. That’s awesome for me.

‘Be Happy’

And so, over the years online is still an ongoing management problem. Markets were trialled and tested and some stuck; now I’m a ‘worker bee markets’ regular, actual genuine real friendships have been formed, my products change and grow due to life experiences; travels – my insight to the world, friendships – and oh how people change!, relationships – from cowardly through to abusive ex’s, and even baby loss – I work to breaking that silence. All these make me who I am, and I am prouder than ever of the woman & crafter I am today. Throughout any of life’s challenges your strength grows and with this comes new ways to look at life and approach this crazy journey the best way you know how. My makes aim to ground you and then set you alight again.

‘Rise & Stay’ dreamcatcher

I’m currently excited about producing my own wedding invites and other wedding stationary ‘bit’s for our Wedding next August, using my clay artist ways of course! I’m currently using my Summer to explore my wedding crafts and you never know this could be a Clay On Words side line in future!

I am also using this Summer to raise funds for the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust by walking 80 miles in 1 month – as 1 in 80 pregnancies are ectopic. This charity is very, very close to my heart… Any support would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for being here… always


Thank you, Sarah for sharing your creative journey and we hope you fulfil your dream one day soon!

Sarah’s vibrantly inspirational pieces can be found on her Facebook or Etsy.

Sarah will be walking throughout August to raise money for The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust.

If you would like to support her fundraising for The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, there’s a link to her JustGiving page HERE

Sarah will also be live on BBC Radio Manchester tomorrow (Monday August 3rd) at 7.30pm, show your support and listen in!

Stay Safe and Shop Local where you can.

For even more OnlyWillow, visit our Instagram and Facebook.

Written by Siobhan Green.