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meet sarah of sae POTTERY

WHO ARE YOU? TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF!

My name is Sarah Anne Eby, Toronto-based maker of sae POTTERY. I'm an active arts-educator and ceramicist building community. I hold a BFA/B.Ed with a specialization in ceramics and outdoor education. For the past six years I’ve been designing and facilitating programming for all-ages with artist-run non-profits. Whether in the classroom, studio or outdoors I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty.

WHAT DO YOU MAKE?

Right now I’m focusing on making functional ware. Just the thought of making something that is meant to be used and appreciated inspires me. I think those of us who make handmade functional pottery do so not simply to produce objects that enable people to perform various tasks. We put the thought, time and care into making these useful objects with the hopes that the users will somehow connect with them beyond their intended purpose. At least that’s what I am striving for. 

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED AS MAKER?

It started with joy. Sharing the wonderment of creating something from nothing. From a lump of mud. Growing up on Lake Huron near Goderich Ontario where my family had a cottage, often involved finding clay. I quickly learnt that the clay-rich soils trickle and deposit clay around the eroding gullies. Harvesting clay was always a beach activity I did with friends. I always collaborated with others and still do. Taking only the clay we needed, we usually pinched small pots. We would pretend to eat and drink out of them, placed them on a shelf and when they dried I kept mine for the best rocks or shells. These childhood experiences ignited my curiosity for the science of ceramics. In 2007 I started my BFA with hopes to be an art teacher. Now I’m standing with 10 years of ceramics experience, emerging my pottery business and teaching in Toronto.

WHAT MAKES YOUR PRODUCTS THE BEST?

Each object by sae POTTERY is made with my hands. A lot of my forms are inspired by my German and British heritage. Functional, durable dishware that is lead free and dishwasher safe. Thrown and trimmed on my potterywheel, and carefully glazed and finished, piece by piece. I’m particularly happy with the bottoms of my pots where I trim a foot. Each shows the mark of my hands in subtle variations of form and texture, as well as those found within the clay body itself. No two pieces are exactly alike- more sisters than twins: closely related, not exactly duplicates, but still a family. 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORKSPACE

The studio I’m a part of is called Akin Collective. One of many locations in Toronto. I’m in the Dufferin Street location nestled between Little Portugal, Queen West and Parkdale. 

A studio in a big white industrial warehouse divided amongst an eclectic group. Fashion designers, ceramicists, painters and graphics designers. My little space is sandwiched beside the kilns and below a skylight. I’ve been here for a year now and am loving it. I find it inspiring to be surrounded by people working on creative endeavors and entrepreneurial undertakings of all kinds. Plus we host monthly show and tells, workshops, open studio events, gallery tours, exhibitions, as well as various other art projects.

TELL US ABOUT WHERE PEOPLE CAN FIND YOUR PRODUCTS? 

Find the sae POTTERY Instagram, Facebook and Etsy on my website- www.saepottery.com. You can also find my work at Likely General on Roncesvalles Avenue in Toronto. Likely General is a shop, gallery, and community space in my neighbourhood supporting artistic work of women, non-binary, and marginalized folks. 

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

My surname Eby comes from Kitchener Ontario where my family home is. It was known as Eby Town in the early 1800s. My Pennsylvanian-German ancestors moved here from the United States in the late 1700s. 

Most of my pottery forms are inspired by my German ancestor William K. Eby (1831-1905). William was a potter and founder of Conestogo Pottery. He produced a general line of utilitarian earthenware here, among which were drain tiles, storage crocks, plates, pitchers, bowls, flower pots and other common things for daily use. In addition to this functional pottery, he made a smaller number of specialty pieces, primarily for his immediate family, friends, children and grandchildren.

WHAT HAS BEEN MAKING YOU EXCITED LATELY?

Collaborations + food + aesthetics + heritage. In order, these are the four things that motivate my work. Collaborating with others keeps me on my toes. Jane Crout, the one who took these beautiful photographs of me in and around the studio. Find her on Instagram @jane.crout. 

I’m also inspired by traditional Japanese aesthetic, wabi-sabi (侘寂). The art of finding the beauty in transience and imperfection. Respecting authenticity above all. It depends on the ability to slow down, to shift the balance from doing to being, to appreciating rather than perfecting. It takes a quiet mind to appreciate muted beauty, courage not to fear bareness, willingness to accept things as they are—without ornamentation. 

IF YOU COULD LEARN A NEW SKILL, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Contemporary dance

COFFEE OR TEA?

Morning coffee ritual, always. Decaffeinated tea in the evening.

ARE YOU A MORNING PERSON OR A NIGHT OWL?

Most definitely a morning person. A peaceful start to my day goes a long way.Early mornings give me an allotted amount of time in which I have nothing to do or nowhere to be. 

WHAT DO YOU WATCH OR LISTEN TO IN THE BACKGROUND WHEN YOU ARE MAKING?

The rustling of other makers in the studio. Usually the tailor’s radio muffles CBC Radio. If I’m the only one in the studio, I’ll tune into a CBC Radio podcast or some music. My favourite artists right now are Cass McCombs, Cocteau Twins, Brian Eno and Nicola Cruz. 

SHARE 5 FUN FACTS ABOUT YOURSELF.

- My partner Niko and I live in a small attic apartment in Ronsesvalles, Toronto. Imagine tree lined residential streets along a strip with an Eastern European vibe teeming with friendly people, dogs and strollers. I recommend visiting! 

- I absolutely love to cook and eat food from all cultures. I’m obsessed with Indian food right now. 

- Last year Niko and I lived in a tiny home on Toronto Island.

- I treeplanted for 4 seasons in Northern BC 

- Rain or shine I ride my bike to and from the studio.

corduroy company

February 24, 2018 by Colleen Wisniewski

meet steph of steph liddle ceramics

corduroy company steph liddle

WHO ARE YOU? TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF!

I'm Steph! Designer/Maker. Ceramic lover. Pizza eater.

WHAT DO YOU MAKE?

Ceramic jewellery and homewares. With an eye for colour and pattern, I draw on my background in Illustration to create contemporary, graphic ceramic jewellery and homewares. Focussing on minimal shapes, combined with bold patterns and a limited colour palette, I create pieces which are easy to wear and live with.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED AS MAKER?

I originally studied Illustration at art school and made work that was very different to the work I make now – I made a lot of soft sculptures of giant, interactive comfort foods and done a lot of screenprinting. It wasn't until after I graduated that I started working with ceramics. From the moment I picked up a lump of clay I was completely enthralled! I love that I can start with a ball of what is essentially mud and turn it into something useable. I get a total kick every time I open the kiln and see the work inside, and I still feel incredibly proud and amazed to think that I made it with my own hands.

WHAT MAKES YOUR PRODUCTS THE BEST?

Each piece is imperfectly unique. Slipcast using Parian porcelain clay, the pattern and illustration on each piece is hand-drawn with a brush using underglaze, meaning no two pieces will ever be exactly the same. Once they're fired, they're polished by hand to create objects with a silky smooth finish which are a joy to hold and interact with.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORKSPACE

My studio is in a Victorian jute mill which has been converted into an artist studio complex. It's an amazing space with double height ceilings, huge windows, and a great community of makers – there's a whole world of creativity going on behind each door! There's also a gallery and project space on the top floor where I host ceramic classes which looks out across Dundee, the Tay River and hills of Fife.

TELL US ABOUT WHERE PEOPLE CAN FIND YOUR PRODUCTS? 

You can find my ceramics on my online shop at www.stephliddle.com or they can be found in brick and mortar shops across the UK. I've no stockists outside the UK (yet!) but I do ship worldwide from my website so no need to feel left out if you're not in the UK!

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

I'm based in Dundee, Scotland. It's a funny little city full of character and creativity on the banks of the River Tay – an incredibly silvery expanse.

WHAT HAS BEEN MAKING YOU EXCITED LATELY?

I've just ran a 4 week beginners ceramic course called 'TILE // PINCH // SLAB // COIL' and welcomed a lovely group of people into my studio to learn how to make their own ceramics. It's been a great experience and I've really loved sharing my skills with others – it's amazing to see what everyone creates each week, and see everyone personalities emerge through the objects they've created.

corduroy company steph liddle

IF YOU COULD LEARN A NEW SKILL, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I've always fancied learning to play the cello! I love the deep, somewhat mournful sound.

COFFEE OR TEA?

Tea! I drink far too much of it. Unless it's the weekend, then I'll make a cafetière of coffee to accompany my lazy breakfast.

ARE YOU A MORNING PERSON OR A NIGHT OWL?

Night owl. I'm awful in the mornings – every day feels like waking from a long hibernation.

WHAT DO YOU WATCH OR LISTEN TO IN THE BACKGROUND WHEN YOU ARE MAKING?

I listen to BBC 6 Music when I'm in the studio most days, I like the routine it provides. I also listen to a lot of podcasts when I'm working – I like that my hands can do one thing while my brain does another. When I'm teaching classes I like to make a little curated playlist to help set the mood – Haiku Salut, Errors, and Bon Iver have featured heavily in my most recent classes.

SHARE 5 FUN FACTS ABOUT YOURSELF.

- I once made a lasagne the size of a single bed! It wasn't edible, sadly, it was a soft sculpture but you could get inside it and cosy up inside the layers. It now lives in my mums loft, rolled up inside a black bin bag.

- Each and every mark on my ceramics are hand-drawn with a brush! People often think they're machine made as they're so precise but it's all done by hand.

- I'm obsessed with food. Cooking it, eating it, drawing it. Everything. I'm also vegan, and I think they definitely go hand in hand.

- I have a pretty distinctive laugh. And by laugh, I mean cackle. I have a cackle. A big cackle.

- My face has a mind of it's own – I can try as hard as I like to hide my true feelings but my face will always give me away. And usually I am completely oblivious to it's actions.

corduroy company steph liddle

February 20, 2018 by Colleen Wisniewski

meet chris of chris long ceramics

WHO ARE YOU? TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF!

Hello! I'm Chris and I make pottery and play the drums.

WHAT DO YOU MAKE?

Functional Ceramics

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED AS A MAKER?

The same way anyone gets into anything I suppose. Tried a thing and liked it so much that I kept doing it til it took my life over. But I found Ceramics in a high school class.

WHAT MAKES YOUR PRODUCTS THE BEST?

I'm quite proud of my mugs. I've spent a lot of time over the 10+ years I've been working with clay focusing on what makes a mug feel how it's supposed to. Lots of little things that I've learned thru years of trial and error. I'd say that's the strongest thing my work has going for it, just being very natural feeling and comfortable to use. That being said, however, I'd be a fool to believe that my work is in any way the best. I know people who've been making pottery for 20, 30, 40 years. My work has come a really long way since I've started, and even a really long way since just this time last year, but the learning never stops and there are always ways to improve.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORKSPACE

I work in a studio that I built in my backyard. It's a pretty small space, (about 10' by 10') but it's all that I need. It feels really amazing to work inside of a space that I built with my own two hands. It has a really tall ceiling and big ol windows, so it feels a lot bigger than it looks from the outside.

TELL US ABOUT WHERE PEOPLE CAN FIND YOUR PRODUCTS? 

I set up pretty regularly at the HOPE Farmers Market on Sundays and the Barton Creek Farmers Market on Saturdays. Aside from that, I'll do various pop-ups and art markets whenever they happen. I don't like to sell my work online, but I'll do a few Etsy sales throughout the year for people who live outside of Austin.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

The Dallas Metroplex

WHAT HAS BEEN MAKING YOU EXCITED LATELY?

Writing new music with my band "Hikes"!

IF YOU COULD LEARN A NEW SKILL, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Probably that loud whistle thing that people do at baseball games. I've tried to learn so many times and it just makes no sense to me. That or like juggling or something.

COFFEE OR TEA?

Coffee all the way. I love Chinese tea in social settings, but I drink coffee every day.

ARE YOU A MORNING PERSON OR A NIGHT OWL?

Neither really. My preferred studio schedule is from about noon to 8. Although usually, it ends up being something more like noon to midnight. I can play the night owl game a lot easier than I can play the early bird game though.

WHAT DO YOU WATCH OR LISTEN TO IN THE BACKGROUND WHEN YOU ARE MAKING?

Hip-hop/ rap, podcasts, metal, and emo music, probably in that order.

SHARE 5 FUN FACTS ABOUT YOURSELF.

- I've gotten to travel all over the world making music (touring / recording) and learning pottery (artist in residency programs/ studying abroad)

- I used to skateboard a lot before I got into music. I was real good at it too, but it was tearing my body apart.

- most of my tattoos were given to me by my friends, and most of them are matching to a corresponding tattoo that I would've given them

- if I'm drunk and in the proper context I can spit a halfway decent freestyle

- I speak in a British accent when I'm alone in the studio. Dunno why, but I think it makes talking to myself less weird if it's not in my voice haha

January 23, 2018 by Colleen Wisniewski