The Hot Art StudioMy studio is located just east of Sedgefield, a village in the garden route of the Western Cape outside of Cape Town, South Africa. A veritable paradise of forests, beaches, mountains, rivers, lakes and fynbos - which is a unique flora famous to the Cape, with the most sympathetic climate imaginable. My teaching and handbuilding studio is a converted four-car garage. Adjacent to the garage, I have an L shaped fireplace manufacturing workshop, Hot Art, which is open on both ends and roughly the same size as the teaching studio. The workshop leads to our outdoor display of fireplaces, the raku kiln and the sawdust pit.
I fire in a raku kiln which is my preferred method, as I am a lover of reduction, the obvious transformation by fire, and a touch of the unexpected. I love the way the blue bricking of the carbonized clay body and the silvery sheens from the iron’s heavy reduction contrasts with crackle and colour. I like to achieve textures reminiscent of metal and leather. The raku kiln is a stainless-steel, top-hat drum, insulated with 3 layers of ceramic fibre. It is about three feet high, two feet in diameter, and works on a pulley system. This kiln hangs alongside a sawdust pit, used to achieve crackle effects and carbonization of the unglazed body, resulting in multiple shades of black. I also have a dormant Olsen fast-fire wood kiln outside, where I once fired functional domestic ware. On the other side of the house and studio, are the clay prep sheds, where the raw materials are kept, a dough mixer, blunger, baths, drying bats, and a pug mill. Below that is a packing shed for boxes of transportation, as well as storage for accessories for fireplace accessories and installations – pipes, stands, screens etc.
My space is very conducive for making all of my pots and those for the business too – peaceful and wind free. The weather is mostly sunny and mild and I have undulating forested hills flowing to the horizon. I am truly blessed.
My favourite thing about the studio is the location and that I don’t have to use keys. My house is always unlocked, and yet very secure. I do have two beautiful Australian Cattle dogs and a township special, and I don’t choose to live in fear.
My least favourite thing is having to rely on so much plastic; although it’s convenient, I still don’t like it. I also wish the electricity was free, that would be lovely.
I love the sparse Japanese style studio, but it doesn’t fit my working habits. Two of my older brothers have always had beautiful studios that inspire me. My studio space falls short of their standards, however, I have an amazing location to make up for it. I’m also inspired by the many potteries I have visited especially those at La Borne in France.
Energy conservation is very important to me. I catch rainwater, which is very clean so deep in the country. I recycle and I also have an earthworm farm that supports my vegetable gardens and fruit trees. I fire my raku kiln with propane instead of natural gas, which allows me to get almost double the number of firings for the same size tank of fuel.