Sally is the talented creative behind Brisbane pottery business SBG Ceramics. Her love for hand building translates in unique vessels that delight and inspire. Here she spoke to Suitcase Rummage about her journey into pottery, it’s history and how she designs with clay.
Can you tell us a little about who you are and what you do? For my day job I’m a dietitian and I am also at university undertaking a PhD. Making ceramics is my passion project. I love the process and the rewarding feeling of making something by hand.
What do you love most about making ceramic wares? It’s a process-based art – it takes a long time for a chunk of clay to become it’s finished form. I like that aspect of it – you learn to appreciate pieces of ceramics for the hours of work, detail, and care that went into them. I can never look at a ceramic piece the same way now. It can also be incredibly rewarding to see something you have made with your bare hands being used in everyday life that you would otherwise not think twice about. I often think of how long-lasting ceramics are – you can make something that will last many lifetimes. Ceramics are often what is found from ancient civilisations – it blows my mind to think about how long the pot I make could last.
How did you first get into pottery? A few years ago, my good friend invited me to come along to a wheel-throwing pottery class with her. At that point I didn’t like the idea of hand building because it seemed very slow and unsatisfying. But after about a year on the wheel, on a whim I decided to buy a block of clay and take it home with me to try it out this ‘handbuilding’ thing… I quickly realised it was very meditative and intensely satisfying to work with clay without a wheel. That was about 5 months ago. Since then, I have taught myself through trial and error… and a few YouTube tutorials.
How would you define your creative style and where do you get your inspiration from? I still feel like a bit of a beginner… so I guess I’m still trying to find my ‘style’. You could say I have a bit of a ‘near enough is good enough’ attitude – I am definitely not a perfectionist! My pieces often have their own unique ‘mistakes’. I draw inspiration from so many other ceramicists – there are some Brisbane-based potters doing great things. I do like my pieces to serve a function or purpose, so I like drawing inspiration from makers who make functional pottery pieces.
Tell us a little about your process and where you make your ceramics. AND Do you make big batches or do you make a little all of the time? My process is fairly stop-start and depends on how much time I have any given week. Things like platters or plates are quick to make so I can usually squeeze a few of them in here and there. Other pieces take longer. I take my pieces to Milton Pottery Supplies to get fired (bisque fired), then pick them up, take them home, glaze them, then take them in to get fired again at a higher temperature. From start to finish, this process can take a month. I only do small batches. Everything tends to look a little different – that’s the beauty of handmade pots. I make my ceramics at home on my dining room table after work or uni or on the weekends… my dog Max is usually asleep at my feet while I work.
What do you enjoy most about attending suitcase rummage? The lovely people you meet and the fact that they are passionate about giving new life to used stuff! I love that this market is based on selling your pre-loved or handmade stuff and reducing waste in the world – that can’t be a bad thing.
Can you offer any tips for setting up a rummage stall? (And also for transporting ceramics safely) I guess I am still learning! I learned that for my pieces, smaller is better as many people won’t be able to carry home large items or don’t carry enough cash for the larger pieces. So I’ve started making lots of smaller items – things like jewellery/soap dishes, small planters, bowls, vases, etc. Transporting ceramics just needs lots of padding – I usually use clothes in between pieces to soften any knocks while travelling.
Do you incorporate any sustainable/environmentally friendly practices into your creative process and small business? I don’t like waste, so I’m careful to only buy what I need in terms of supplies and tools. The best tools are your hands anyway. I always try to use cardboard and other recycled forms of packaging. I also like to use household items to make interesting patterns in the clay – I’ve used old bubble wrap, doilies… all sorts of things.
Do you have any dreams or exciting plans for the future with SBG Ceramics? It’s never been a profit-driven thing for me, just a hobby I love. I am over the moon if someone sends me a picture of them using the item they’ve bought! I will keep on selling at Suitcase Rummage and I’ve just started up an Etsy store.
Where can we find and follow you? I’m on facebook as ‘SBG Ceramics’ , Instagram as @sbg_ceramics, and Etsy at www.etsy.com/au/shop/sbgceramics, or come and say hi at the next Suitcase Rummage in Brisbane.