The Shire Workshops

Joe and Bob Stafford

We believe that all artistic expression is joyful, therapeutic and enriching. That it should be encouraged in all ages, and be a vital part of all our lives. And, that you can do it too – Just express yourself…

Our ceramics/pottery art studio is available for artists, budding artists and those who would love to explore clay whatever their age and experience. Creative Day(s) and courses for you, your family and your friends can be organised.

Artist Bios

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Joe Stafford

Artist & Sculptor

Early Inspiration

Joe’s fascination with sculpture started at an early age, watching his dad making strange gargoyles that covered the house inside and out. His love of fantasy and character creation grew as he was introduced to Tolkien books and Jim Henson films. When he began watching David Attenborough documentaries, his love and fascination for all wildlife great and small began. This has been a big influence on his sculptures. 

He began his sculpting career around the age of 10 by making characters out of blue tac under his desk instead of doing school work, and his own gargoyles from clay when he got home. 

The Workshop

Joe always had the need to create so after a break from sculpture in his teenage years,  and at the age of 24, he decided to rent a workshop with his recently retired father so they could re-kindle their passion for clay. 

Joe’s style has evolved over the last 5 years where he has experimented with different techniques, clays and subjects. He likes to take on challenging commissions to push him into sculpting things outside of his comfort zone and improve as a sculptor. 

Developing style

Joe has always had an obsession with detail which comes out in his work in polymer clay, but has recently found his passion is working fast and loose in a much more sketchy style. Some of his influences for this style are Simon Lee, The Shiflett Brothers and wildlife artists such as David Cooke and Nichola Theakston. 

Joe has found a love for sculpting tree ents and has always had the desire to sculpt much larger versions, but has been limited by the size of his kiln. After discovering Pal Tiya Premium a whole new world of possibilities has opened up which he looks forward to exploring, as well as teaching the techniques to anyone who wants to learn them. 

Exploring imagination

He believes that all skills can be learnt, and that enthusiasm, patience, and a desire to create are more important than any ideas of natural talent. 

Joe’s aim with his sculptures is simply to spark people’s imagination and love of strange, surreal and magical ideas which we had as children but often lose as adults. 


Bob Stafford

Freelance Artist – Sculptor, Ceramicist, Designer

Genetic creativity

Bob has been creative from a young age when his mother let him shape the pastry when cooking. He now owns ​The Shire Workshop Art Studio; a 7m square studio space where you can escape the clamour of daily life. You can immerse yourself in activities, use your imagination and realise your ideas.

My mum & dad met at art night school, so I guess it was in my genes – (ref; my son, Joe).


I trained as a teacher specialising in sculpture and ceramics, and after 36 years teaching children, I finally got my own studio when I retired and started my new career opening The Shire Workshops studio in 2012.

I describe myself as an up-and-coming senior artist, whose endeavours were put on hold by a wonderful domestic interlude. 

” In my work I enjoy expressing myself in shape and forms and commenting on the human condition through art; but I also have great fun using fantastical ideas. I love to, at present, create effigies of creatures, beings & forms from a freed imagination.

I can realise limitless machinations of humans and creatures, just as we have done from the time we became sentient. Think of the cave paintings and the stonemasons who left their “imaginings” made solid, on our churches and old buildings.

I believe that artistic expression is the ultimate physical communication which can be compelling, joyful, therapeutic and enriching; that it should be encouraged in all ages as a vital part of all our lives”.

I believe that all artistic, creative endeavours in all their aspects are what make our species special. The human race gets great joy and meaning from expressing itself in many ways such as using and exploring the attributes of materials. 

At present, I’m having fun from fantasy, exploring our ability to be godlike, creating effigies of creatures and beings from my own imagination. It is great fun imaging fantastic creatures just as the stone masons did on our churches, old buildings and ships and as storytellers did in myths and legends. 

Expression through clay

I get my enjoyment from the process of making and expressing as well as the finished product. Until now my medium of choice has been clay. (a finely-grained natural rock or soil material that combines one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter.) 

Clay is wonderful material but can’t cope well with large long thin parts. It shrinks in the kiln and can’t cope with supporting armatures left in place. For large work, until now, we have had to use difficult materials such as fibre glass and resins. 

Pal Tiya

Pal Tiya Premium is a new material, exciting in its ability to do things clay and finds difficult/impossible. This opens up possibilities for new configurations to explore. I am so excited by the prospects of making stirring stuff!

Hope you enjoy my work and feel like having a go!

What people say

About The Shire Workshops

Joe:  07572870509

Bob:  07761123759

Email:  enquiries@theshireworkshops.co.uk

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