Oh, Happy Clay

Oh, Happy Clay
  • Written by
  • Harri Sharman

The revival of handcrafted pottery

There is something magical about taking a rough lump of clay, working it with your hands, and turning it into a beautiful, functional object. Whether it is the connection to the earth, the calming movements of the pottery wheel, or the satisfaction of creation, pottery’s appeal spans all generations.

That’s exactly what Taupō’s Quirky Pottery Studio has found – with people of all ages and abilities enjoying learning pottery skills in their workshops. Didi Chapman is the award-winning potter and ceramic artist behind the studio and has been working with clay for almost a decade. Chapman believes many of her students are attracted to pottery because of the satisfying results.

“There are physical and mental benefits from expressing yourself by creating pottery. I believe that there is enormous satisfaction in working with your hands and creating something that is uniquely yours,” says Chapman. Pottery is also a great way to escape the ever-present screens while creating something personal, she says.

Quirky Pottery also makes functional pottery, including tableware and corporate gifts. You can find their hand-built crockery at The Bistro and Embra restaurants in Taupō. Chapman enjoys working with chefs and restaurants to create a unique style for their culinary creations. She attributes handcrafted pottery’s popularity to the trend for natural, earthy materials and the shift away from disposable or man-made materials.

For Embra, a sophisticated new restaurant with a focus on sustainability and respect for the earth, using locally made, handcrafted crockery just made sense. Quirky Pottery worked with Embra founders Phill and Nora Blackburne to create original crockery that would amplify their guests’ experience. Guests at Embra can enjoy a 3 or 5 course meal in a relaxed, intimate setting, showcasing outstanding NZ produce prepared using French and British techniques.

The handmade plates provide the perfect backdrop for food as beautiful as art itself. Embra say they love using their ceramic tableware as it keeps its temperature during service, meaning food stays hot when plated. Durability is also a factor, and their crockery can handle many runs through their heavy-duty dishwashers.

Chapman loves when local businesses choose to make a statement by using handmade pottery such as hers.

To try your hand at a pottery class, or enquire about a collaboration, contact Didi Chapman on 021 966 014

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