Hi, I’m Sarah Duke and I run Dottery Pottery from my little studio in Hampshire.
When I was child, my dreams jobs were Artist, Pianist or Poet! Despite constantly badgering my parents to buy me a piano ( I did get a teeny Casio keyboard for Christmas 1983 and mastered the Flying Picket’s “Only You” which I proudly played along with during Christmas Top of the Pops), it never happened. My poetry was really a bit naff, so Artist was the career path I pursued….
I ended up getting a place on a Brunel University Degree course based in Buckinghamshire College of Further Education. It was a Multi discipline course covering Furniture making, Jewellery making, Ceramics and glass and Interior Design. I misread the timetable for the first day and spent a leisurely morning looking around the shops when I should have been having a tour of the different options available. When I finally turned up (3 hours late), everyone had chosen their courses and I felt really embarassed and quickly opted for Ceramics and glass as the first discipline. Once I’d had a taster of it though, I never bothered with the other options and enjoyed an amazing 3 years playing with mud and fire!
When I graduated, I rented a space with a potter friend in Southampton and used her kiln to fire my work. I then hired an outbuilding and got my first kiln and eventually rented my own shop in a little shopping village. I called myself I Spy Ceramics as my little shop was so hidden away! I stocked all sorts of arts and crafts as the space was too big to fill with my own ceramics.
Family came along and I took a little break but came back in 2008 with Dottery Pottery.
I am inspired by all things nature, I love retro design and really enjoy surface decoration. I try very hard to come up with unique and original ideas that encompass a little bit of fun and quirkiness.
I love bright, bold colours and designs that make you smile. I am never happier than when I am translating a design from my funny little brain into a finished ceramic piece. I love how a piece of squidgy mud can transform into a permanent, solid, finished product.
The best part of the process for me is when I open the kiln after a glaze firing – it’s exciting and nerve-wracking in equal measure. You can open the kiln to find that everything has over-fired, warped, cracked and bubbled and a good few weeks of work can be totally ruined…..or you can open the kiln and find everything looking shiny and perfect. It’s also really exciting when you’ve mixed up a new glaze recipe and tried it out for the first time, you never quite know what you are going to get!
I couldn’t imagine my life without clay on my hands (especially when I run up to the house to answer the door to the postperson!) and I am so grateful to all of my lovely customers that make it possible for me to make mud pies every day!