Sandy's journey into potting came from a local pottery class she booked and attended with her mother, whom she believed was in need of a creative outlet. However, her mother wasn't that taken by it but Sandy was hooked. Her first piece was a beer mug made with a coiling technique and decorated with a tooled texture. That was 1973 and she still has it and still uses it.
Her pottery pieces include bowls, plates, platter dishes, mugs, pots, vases and some sculptural items. A love of nature transcends into the colours and designs of many of her creations, making for unique products that are both beautiful and great for everyday use (with the cookware being oven, microwave and dishwasher safe).
The 'throwing' process on the wheel is a fine art in itself as you hand-build your clay whilst using your foot to spin the wheel at the right pace. I did a pottery class a few years back and can tell you this is one of the hardest parts of the process. There's a lot of skill required in the way you hold and move your hands around the clay to turn it into the shape you're looking for. My pieces turned out a bit wonky. Pottery certainly wasn't my forte. I praise Sandy and those who put in the hours of practice needed.
After your piece is sculpted into shape, it is left to rest to dry. The next stage is 'turning' and this involves using tools to cut away the unnecessary clay that supported the piece in the 'throwing' process.
The next steps are the firing and glazing in the kiln. The firing process turns the raw clay into ceramic through high temperature heating. Sandy completes two types of firings in her rare natural gas kiln. The first is a slow biscuit firing to 1000c that takes 12hrs, followed by a further 16hrs to cool, before opening the kiln. The result is a clay that is stronger but still porous and ready for the glaze.
The glaze firings reach 1300c in 12-15hrs, which includes a 5hr reduction and often a 3hr fire down. Sandy uses her learned smells and sounds from her kiln to judge that all is set well. She also looks at the colour of the flame jutting out of the chimney during the reduction process, the purpose of which is to starve the kiln of oxygen to alter the glaze colour and quality. It is used to obtain rich earthy colours. Copper in a reduction firing is red but in a neutral firing it is green.
On my recent visit, another artist was sharing the limelight with Sandy in displaying her potted works. Margaret Hall is her name and she put out some interesting figurines and jewellery, in addition to mugs, a teapot and serving dishes.
It was lovely meeting both artists and getting to know the multi-talented Sandy (she's also a musician and a former scuba diving photographer) and her daughter, both of whom provided valuable information on all things pottery.
You can find Sandy's studio and home at 7 Hartley Close, North Turramurra. She will be open to visitors on weekends, from 10am-4pm, should you wish to purchase a special piece for your home or as a gift for someone near and dear.