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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.

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