It probably feels hard for those of you battling heavy snow and mega storms to believe, but down here in New Zealand we are still on summer break. I have been touring round the country with my family, visiting family and friends and, honestly, writing Handwork lessons has been the furthest thing from my mind.
I did however, stop in to see one of the most inspirational people I know when it comes to crafts. I thought I'd introduce you to Pottery Sue in the hopes she will inspire you, and hopefully your students too. (BTW, I don't know if she knows that's what we call her - I guess she does now!).
Sue and Ian are both potters who live on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. A quick look at a map will show you that The West Coast is cut off from the rest of the country by a HUGE mountain range. This means the folks that live there are, by necessity, hardy and inventive. Sue and Ian are both of these things, they live and work in the middle of the native bush in a combination of buildings that make up their home, studio and shop.
Ian built this geodesic dome which is their kitchen and living space......
........and the bedrooms are in decommissioned Victorian railway carriage.
Between them, they can pretty much make anything, using any material, but the true magic takes place in the pottery. Ian uses the wheel to make cups, bowls, plates and vases............
and Sue uses a coil technique to make all kinds of incredible sculptures:
They fire them using a traditional coal fired kiln and a salt glaze. The kiln takes around 24 hours to fire and requires constant feeding to keep it going.
Firings are always a wonderful event. Friends and family gather with food and drinks and take turns to shovel the coal into the blazing kiln. As the night moves on, people begin to fall by the wayside and eventually only the hardcore few are left to keep shoveling till morning (I have never made it that far!).
The kiln then has to be left to cool, before the bricks are taken out of the doorway and the treasure inside can be discovered - a very exciting moment. Check out this guy and he makes his debut into the world:
Sue and Ian's place is full of incredible artwork, both their own and other artists.
Everywhere you turn, there is beauty, both human made and natural as well as an overwhelming feeling of peace and love.
These are the everyday heroes that sculpt our environment and bring a little more joy and beauty to the world around us. If you every find yourselves on the South Island of New Zealand, I highly recommend you pay Kotuku Pottery a visit - there is never any pressure to buy, you can just go and soak in the beauty.
If you would like to see more of Sue and Ian's work you can visit their Facebook page at Kotuku Pottery where they post videos of their work in progress. Or you could just get out some clay and have a go at sculpting some beauty of your own!