Seriously, what’s not to love? I get to work with amazing people, learn new skills all the time and work with clay, wood, fire, water. I am obsessed with porcelain at the moment and can’t seem to stop making tea bowls…Please scroll down to meet some of our Pottingshed Collective Members.
Michael Martin – Apprentice, Pottingshed workshop
I first became interested in making with clay when studying Ecological Design at Schumacher College here in Devon. During my studies I attended the Out of this Earth workshop where I experienced a way of making pottery that was ancient. This timeless way of making sparked my interest in the process of working with local materials and traditions that are not only ecological, they are designed to bring us into relationship with the world around us. This way of seeing and making the world has become the subject of my research and continues to influence my work. These humble handmade clay pinch pots are an expression of what it means to me to be of a place; the earth, the woods, the river and the clay beneath my feet.
Mel Chambers, Alchemy Tiles
Mel Chambers is a self-taught Artist living in Cornwall and a former apprentice to Richenda Macgregor, as well as a dedicated teacher and supporter at the Potting Shed Workshop. She now runs a succesful business called Alchemy tiles, making beautiful, bespoke hand crafted tiles. Inspired by the water and all things oceanic Mel is also a sculptress in her own right and works mainly in Raku. Mel also works to commission, you can view her portfolio at www.melchambers.com
Touch is central to my ceramics work: in the creation of my pieces and the response they arouse in people; my pots are made to be touched.
They are the result of two-way conversations between fingers and clay.
Connection with nature and the wider environment are central themes in
my projects. I like to combine elements of order, pattern and harmony
with disorder and asymmetry. I enjoy working with both mind and
intuition, allowing projects to flow and unfold.
Using clay slab-work techniques, I create sculptural objects, coil-pots and rustic copper mounted jewellery.
I enjoy experimenting with glazes and colour combinations, and occasionally am able to include Raku fired items along with traditionally kiln fired selections.
I am primarily inspired by the natural environment and local land and seascapes found along the Teign Estuary in South Devon and my passion for gardens and gardening . The objects in this exhibiton reflect a background of working with antiques, particularly textiles, and influences from my travels in and around the Mediterranean and North Africa .
Chris Wood is a scuba diver, underwater photographer and author of books on marine life. His pots mostly feature thrown forms with marine creatures providing lids, handles or swimming through them. Colours are marine blues and greens and the crackle effect of raku firing especially
complements his themes. Chris has his own workshop near Ivybridge which features a home-built raku kiln as well as a venerable rumbling wheel and a conventional electric kiln.
I studied illustration at Glasgow Art School in the nineties, then went on to work in a therapeutic community where there was a pottery, and I’ve been unable to shake my clay addiction since!
I feel passionately about making wheel thrown stoneware, working towards producing objects that are pleasing to hold, look at and use. My choice of materials and palette are influenced by my environment, the river Dart, Dartington Woods and the fields and hills surrounding Staverton where I live and have a studio.
The Potting Shed provides inspirational but gentle tutoring from Richenda, and I’m enjoying being challenged and supported as part of such a creative community.
My love of ceramics has been deep set for many years, I completed my degree at Brighton University specialising in ceramics and metal in 2002 and whilst always remaining creative it took a while to get back to working with clay. My last year has been learning how to throw and between the frustrating times I have been making spoons! My experimenting has led me to push the boundaries of how unlike a spoon a clay spoon can be and yet still have some of the qualities left, stretching the clay to see what it can tolerate physically and visually.
My potter’s wheel work continues to generate a very special pleasure and a genuine thirst to improve and widen my skill level. The focus required in the process from start to finish of each piece of work immerses you in the world of clay and makes for a very gratifying and enjoyable learning process.
Along with the diversity of the nature of the making pottery, I also gain from working alongside others who both encourage and inspire me to rise to the creative challenge and improve my skill and knowledge levels.
I love to Make.
Working the ancient clays with my hands.
The mystery of glazing, the huge temperatures.
The excitement of seeing what’s worked, and what hasn’t. The pinging of the glaze as it cools. Creating and learning, making beautiful, useful things for people to enjoy. Seeing the joy in others as they discover the magic of pottery.
I have been privileged over the years to teach what I love and feel passionate about. These days I tend to teach and work alongside an extraordinary group of women and men dedicated to their own creative process, to working with the knowledge of the hands, to gaining skill however long that takes, and to knowing that in this age of communication what is often lost is the communication with Earth itself.
If you want to get out of your head, work with your hands, work with the soil, craft something… make a pot!
I am not a wordsmith, preferring the language of my hands to the one of words, but sometimes words are needed to describe, however imperfectly, the necessity and fundamental need I believe everyone has to commune with material, with the physical substance of the Earth.
What better way to do it than to use the material that lies abundantly under our feet in Devon. We are a stone’s throw away from the largest clay pit in Europe after all…
The Pottingshed Collective is an experiment; the vision is to create a community of potters/ceramists/apprentices who are willing to support each other, sharing skills, equipment and knowledge. The path of the Maker is not an easy one but within a supported community it becomes possible and the world needs its potters!
Eating from a hand-made plate, drinking from a hand-made mug is a type of activism and an act of self-love. Faced with a choice between a mass-produced, shipped-across-the-world, dispensable mug and one that has been made for you, touched by the potter’s hand, made with authenticity, love and passion, which would you rather have?