Making terrazzo coasters with Olivia Aspinall & Pelican Story

We are always looking out for the most exciting and on-trend events that are happening across the country, and anything that combines shopping, making and great interiors has definitely got us intrigued! We sent 91 contributors Nancy Straughan and Jemma Watts along to a recent event at Kreativ House in London, to shop the pelican story pop-up and make terrazzo coasters with Olivia Aspinall...  

Terrazzo coaster making with Olivia Aspinall

Terrazzo burst onto the interior scene a few years ago and since I first discovered it via Pinterest I have been dying to know more about it and how it's made. Like me, you’ve probably noticed it being used recently by some of the coolest interiors and homeware brands and in modern kitchen design, but in fact terrazzo dates back as far as the 15th century, and traditionally utilised chips of marble or granite. I spied a lot of terrazzo flooring while in Greece recently, thanks to the country's history in producing beautiful marble. 

These days, contemporary terrazzo features bold colours and shapes and is being used in lots of unusual ways. I would never have considered being able to craft something from it myself, so I was thrilled to be invited to workshop recently to learn how to make terrazzo coasters.

Kreativ House Hackney, London
Kreativ House, Hackney, London
Kreativ House, Hackney, London
Pelican Story pop up at Kreativ House London

The class was a collaboration between three creative businesses, Olivia Aspinall, pelican story and Kreativ House. The workshop was run by Olivia Aspinall alongside pelican story who were running a special pop-up shop on the ground floor of Kreativ House. Kreativ House is a beautiful private workspace that helps support small businesses in East London, the perfect place for both the pop up and workshops.

Pelican Story pop up at Kreativ House London
Pelican Story pop up at Kreativ House London
Pelican Story pop up at Kreativ House London
Pelican Story pop up at Kreativ House London

Before beginning the workshop, I had a browse of the beautiful pelican story pop up. This relatively new brand stocks a great selection of contemporary and hard to find homeware, furniture and gifts, many which are mid-century and Scandinavian inspired. Some are also locally made and the range felt a little bit different from your average homeware collection.

Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop
Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop

Moving on to the workshop, our host and teacher Olivia was exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable and she carefully explained each stage of the making process before we got started. The main material for our home-made terrazzo was jesmonite. This is a composite material that combines plaster, cement and a water-based plastic resin. Bright pots of saturated pigment were laid out, which we would use to colour our jesmonite chips as well as the base of our coasters.

Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop
Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop
Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop

The first stage was to carefully mix two batches of coloured jesmonite to make our chips for the coasters. I opted for a pale peach and a navy blue to match my living room at home. Measuring out the ingredients, we all made two separate batches of jesmonite resin, which would then be spread thinly onto sheets of plastic and left to dry. A quick cup of tea later and our coloured jesmonite was dry and ready to be broken up into chips.

Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop
Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop

After placing these pieces into cups, it was time to decide on the base colour for our coasters. My living space is relatively neutral and features hints of peach, blue and green, so I decided an off-white colour would work best. I added a touch of white and a little bit of mustard to the base to create a very pale cream colour. 

Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop

Next, we weighed out our jesmonite chips and Olivia provided us with some complimentary colours for us to add to our existing mix. Along with my peach and navy blue chips I added some mustard, pale pink and beige. These were then added into the base mixture of jesmonite and the entire lot was poured into two coaster moulds. The last stage was to tap the silicone moulds to ensure that all air bubbles would escape, then they were left to dry out completely.

Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop
Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop

Olivia explained to us that she would take our coasters to her studio where she would sand and polish them to reveal the layers of our coloured chips. A few days later my coasters arrived in the post from Olivia and I absolutely love them - they complement my living room perfectly!

My expectations of making terrazzo was that it would be extremely complicated, but in reality it's simply a bit of colour theory, measuring and stirring! The trickiest part was choosing colours, but thankfully Olivia’s guidance was really helpful. Not only was it amazing to create something that seems so complicated by hand, but I so enjoyed learning about a new and exciting material – I’m positive that jesmonite will be making a firm impression on the interiors market very soon!

Check out pelican story online - their mailing list or Instagram will keep you posted on future events - the next one is happening in June (15th, 16th & 17th).  Olivia Aspinall will also list more workshops dates on her website and Instagram

Words: Nancy Straughan

Photography: Jemma Watts