One of the things we love the most about our shop is working with creative locals and sharing their wares. We sat down for a cuppa and a chin wag to talk clay with some of our favourite local makers.
Kate McNamara @claydates / Esther Shelley @esthershelley / Madhavi Muncie @mudhavi / Haylie Nowicki @slow_down_ceramics
The mood was relaxed and warm as these four creatives shared their secrets and spoke about clay, being in flow and turning passions in to their real jobs.
It was like sitting in a circle of old friends, even though they had only met minutes before ... that's the loveliest thing about shared passions and real talk.
When asked why and how they put hands to clay originally, they each had their different reasons ... creative break from the mum job, experimentation, cathartic release and a family trade. When asked if they loved their time with clay hands, each of them were brimming ear to ear and overflowing with love and excitement. There is no doubt this ancient art form shares a sense of peace with those who play with it and reminds us to be in the moment.
Each ceramicist has their forte and favourite methods ...
Kate aka Clay dates is a hand builder through and through. She pinches pots, coils and occasionally slab rolls. Preferring to use mainly underglazes for graphic details and embracing the perfectly imperfect.
Esther Shelley has mastered the art of slip casting and making perfectly measured functional porcelain keep cups and her very own glazes.
Madhavi Munice aka Mudhavi ceramics is a wheel master who is known for her etched details and her pretty neutral and white palate.
Haylie of Slow Down Ceramics has dabbled with all methods but makes her vases using coiling. She creates big surfaces to which she hand paints beautifully detailed nude ladies.
One thing really stands out when chatting with these creatives ... they are all chuffed with their ceramic journey. Always learning and growing while mastering their craft - one piece at a time.
When asked on tips for beginners, the group collective view was to start where you are and use what you have.
- Don’t be shy to ask questions and do plenty of research.
- Grab a slab of clay, watch some youtube tutorials, get your hands dirty and start hand building.
- Do some research to find a local ceramic supply shop and kiln facilities.
- You will be surprised how happy people are to share tips of the trade.
- If you are really serious and want to wheel throw, then find your nearest Potters Association or local clay schools. They are popping up everywhere these days now that all things clay are back with a force.
We love clay and we especially love our makers.
Wabi sabi baby
Words by Twahn McMahon. Images by Sabine Bannard.
John and Isla Wilson at The Dust TempleWe didn’t have to look far for our first creative folk. Where better to start than the owners of our very own creative precinct The Dust Temple.
John and Isla are the type that just can't help but live a creative life. It seems to be as compulsory as breathing. When looking at the bricks and mortar they have crafted into a design masterpiece, you realise there is something magic about them ... as is the community around them that seems to have it's own heart beat.
Plants grow so naturally throughout every industrial nook and old and new materials are combined seamlessly to tell a truly unique story. There is always a beautiful floral installation somewhere that looks like it's been plucked from a Vogue editorial crafted by mother nature herself. All set to a backdrop of industrial lines and shadows to a moody soundtrack, that will impress even the snobbiest music lover.
The Dust Temple is a creative precinct that houses studios and creative offices. It has a gallery, cafe and event space with a calendar full of local, national and international exhibitions and events. The Dust Temple is a true creative space where ideas are made and a community is grown. We are forever thankful to share it.
With fearless creativity, we introduce John and Isla Wilson ...
Where did the idea for the Dust Temple crop up?
"Dust is actually an evolving story that was born out of necessity and the power of fearlessness. We had turned our back on corporate work, you know, searching for more balance in our family. John had been offered a directorship in a Sydney company and we both looked at each other and were like 'I don’t want this!' so we literally packed our 5 kids in the car and said North or South kids? North won. We arrived with pretty much nothing, no job and just a little savings. So, we went into full survival mode and started making paper bags, hand folded out of newspaper. That then morphed into exploring other materials - architectural paper, cool old found magazines and we just built up this range of products. We got some into 'Unplugged' in Byron, the owner of which knew Australian artist David Bromley. He showed him the bags introducing them by saying “Look what these crazy people are doing”. David cold called us and John went to meet him and Yuge his wife as they needed some conceptual hand made packaging for some products they had coming out and ... that's where it started! We needed a space to do the concept and creation from so we leased a shop in Tugun, put a studio on one side and chucked a coffee machine on the other because we drank so much of the stuff! Next minute, we had people wanting coffee so we started serving, learnt on the job and called the place 'Shit Coffee' just so people's expectations weren’t too high." Isla giggles when thinking back. "We gained a resident poet, showed local artists and had musicians come and play. It was so much fun and it just kind of worked. The coffee went well and John's design and manufacturing with Bromley was growing. We had Cat working with us, she was sewing the Bromley quilts for us back then. You’ll see her behind the counter at Dust Temple most days now. Eventually, we moved the design part over to a factory in the Currumbin Industrial area. John used to drive past the building that now houses Dust Temple every day and was like 'That’d be perfect!' His architectural eye had picked up the potential of the building. When it became available, he made the call and next minute we held the lease. It actually took a bit of convincing to get me to agree to move the coffee shop but being able to work out of the same space again was the real draw card."
What did you do before you did this?
"John worked primarily for development companies doing urban planning, designing communities on the Gold Coast, Wanaka and lastly out of Sydney where he worked on projects in China also. I was a stay at home Mum for over 15 years. Before that time, I was a florist having trained under experimental and boundary pushing New Zealand florist David Anyon."
"No, it doesn’t feel like work in the sense of having to be here - we love being here! Some people comment on how hard we work but it's kinda that farmer mentality, you get up and you work your land, or in this case, our business. It's so freakin' rewarding seeing it come together. We are truly thankful everyday for the support and engagement our business has received."
What's one tip you would give someone wanting to start their own gig?
"Be prepared to give more of yourself than you ever thought possible. Love what you do and don’t expect overnight success. You have to have grit, determination and the ability to solve problems without throwing it all in. It really does become like another being you are raising and nurturing, so frustrations, tests and unbelievable satisfaction and joy will be of equal measures."
Isla ... you are a flower lady, what’s your favourite flower?
"Mmm ... I don’t think I could name just one! Each season brings a new delight. The smell of an old fashioned climbing rose that has been basking in that easing light of autumn is just heavenly. The honest simplicity of daisies, blossoms in spring, the architectural form of bird of paradise and tropical gingers, the shock of red in the landscape from flowering bottlebrush or Pohutakawa, the drupe of kowhai, the pungency of rosemary and the calling to bees of lavender. Freesias, violets, stock, delphiniums, but I guess ... yep, nup can’t choose!"John is a plant man. What's his favourite plant at home or in the Dust?
"Kermadec Pohutakawa. As simple as that. But I'm going to add that most of the plants that are at Dust have been rescued by John, the ones people are discarding. He really does have a genuine love of plants and can never say no to one. So his favourite ones are - and I quote - "any plant that needs to be loved"."
"Sounds cheesy but it would be our kids ... haha - they are what makes it a home!"
Where are you from and how did childhood in New Zealand make you so fearless?
"John and I are both from the Far North of New Zealand - country kids. Me from the small village of Opononi on the Hokianga Harbour and John from the farming community of Ruawai on the Kaipara Harbour. I guess there is an expectation of creativity and problem solving when you grow up in the countryside. A lot of the time you just had to make do. Growing up, we had very little in the way of possessions. No TV, telephone, scant toys, we had no car for most of my childhood. On reflection, it was the greatest blessing. We played, discovered and worked and had the best sense of freedom. I guess that's why we both struggle with conformity and being told what to do ... we have always been the makers of our own destiny. We believe in self governance, firstly for ourselves, our family, those close and then our community - the ripple effect."What are some of the great events on your calendar this year?
"We have had some beautiful events already this year. Some amazing artists have exhibited with us. The Neumann Dust Temple Portrait Prize is always a highlight on our annual calendar. I think the stand out though has been the Empty Bowls Project. It was such an amazing community driven and focussed fundraiser. Coming up we have some fantastic events in the pipeline. The Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos on the 2nd Nov with our first resident chef Krystal Smith from Pop Taco is shaping up to be a bit of a cracker!"
"So many but I guess the major one for us, which has been a game changer, was coming through the 20+ month approval process with council to allow us to do what we do now."
Thanks guys. We are inspired daily by you and your way. So excited to see your natural evolution and share space with you.
Jan and Sandy