Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became interested in ceramics?
Like so many potters, I came to ceramics in a roundabout way. Around 20 years ago, I signed up for a ceramics evening class to give me something to focus on that wasn’t my job or my children. My teacher was very patient and allowed me not to start with hand-building, which is where beginners, well, begin, and I went straight onto the wheel and became obsessed with throwing. The intense concentration required to make a pot that stayed vaguely upright was just what I needed to take me out of myself for a few hours.
What else have you done if you haven’t always been a potter?
I set up my own studio at home alongside my day job as an editor at Imperial College London. However, working full-time, I ran out of steam and gave up pottery completely for 12 years, during which time the studio was home to cat litter trays and drying washing. Then in 2018, when I no longer worked in an office, I decided to clear out all the unused clutter but couldn’t do so without one last go at throwing. I haven’t looked back since.
Tell us more about what you make
I make mainly everyday homewares: mugs, kitchenware and vases, and I have quite a wide price range because I want everyone to be able to buy a handmade pot if they want to. Making mugs is my favourite thing because there’s something so tactile and comforting about a hot drink in a lovely cup.
Can you tell us more about the materials/processes you use?
I like to experiment with different clays and use only a small number of glazes, and I love the contrast between glazed and unglazed areas. I probably have about four or five different clays on the go at a time, which means I have to keep the studio very clean to not mix them up.
How do you find inspiration?
Coming back to pottery after a long hiatus has been really fascinating because the whole business has completely changed. Before, you needed a shelf-load of books and masterclasses to learn new techniques and you had to go to a lot of galleries and shops to see what people were making.
Now, so many resources are available online and there’s a huge amount of inspiration on Instagram and YouTube. Incredible ceramicists give generously of their experience and skill, and while I intend to do an in-person glazing course once the pandemic subsides, there’s so much you can teach yourself, for example using online resources like glazy.org, which catalogues glaze recipes.
What are you working on now?
I’m developing some pots for a collaboration with a local candlemaker which is exciting, but I can’t say too much about that at the moment.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
I try to get into the studio as early as possible every day otherwise it’s easy to be pulled in other directions. I’ve found the structure of making pots every day incredibly helpful during the pandemic.
The only thing that’s changed for me during lockdown is how I post parcels to people, buying postage online instead of queueing at the post office. It actually works very well so I think I’ve been very lucky.
Find more of Saskia’s work and buy online at Saskia Daniel Ceramics.