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By India• 31 Aug 2018 • 2 Comments
There’s a quote from William Morris, a pioneer of the Arts and Crafts movement, that Wellington ceramicist Paige Jarman often thinks about: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
It’s an idea that has guided her since she first took up pottery just over four years ago. In that time, both her style and her business philosophy have evolved, but functionality has always been at the forefront of her mind. She herself finds joy in, for example, drinking her tea from a beautiful handmade mug, and she hopes her work can provide that same experience for others.
Handmade things have more soul.
“I have a lot of mugs in the drawer that I’ve bought from other people, and I can tell you where every piece came from, how I know the person, how I felt when I bought it and how it makes me feel,” she says. “There’s that extra layer of context and emotion attached to the item. Handmade things have more soul.”
Paige came to pottery somewhat accidentally. In 2013, the Taranaki native finished an “intense” four-year degree in textile design at Wellington’s Massey University. Feeling burnt out and with no desire to jump straight into a career in textiles, she instead took a full-time job at the university library.
After several months with no creative outlet other than her passion for cooking, she decided to cross something off her bucket list and take a beginners’ course at the Wellington Potters’ Association in Thorndon. “At no point did I ever have a plan,” she admits.
Pottery resonated with her straight away – she was able to use the conceptual design skills she had developed as a textiles student but in a more tactile medium. Just one year after taking it up, she had her first order, and, just like that, she was in business.
[Nerikomi is] a technique you could just keep playing with forever.
Her first range was a collection of blue and white bowls, inspired in part by her fascination with Greece. Next, she took inspiration from the Pink and White Terraces, the Bay of Plenty geographical feature that was destroyed by the 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera. Recently, she’s been experimenting with a striking Japanese technique called nerikomi, which involves creating patterns with coloured clay. “That’s a technique you could just keep playing with forever.”
She has swapped the full-time “day job” for a part-time admin role at Victoria University, which gives her more time to spend in her Lower Hutt home studio. As well as selling through her online store, she takes part in local markets and has a handful of brick-and-mortar stockists. She’s also branching out into teaching, running a workshop at Martinborough’s Ventana Creative Collective at the end of September.
Considering how positive the response to Paige’s work has been, it might seem like doing ceramics full-time and shooting for more and more stockists would be the logical next step for her. However, after some soul-searching this year, she’s realised that’s not the case – she would rather do small batches of just five or six pieces and not have to rely on pottery for an income.
“I feel like a machine when I have to make the same stuff over and over again. A lot of my work last year was focusing more on efficiency, and I lost a bit of precision because of that. That precision is what I personally enjoy, and I want to embrace that.”
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