Behind the wheel

Paige Jarman may be new to the pottery business, but she knows where she’s going.

In her short creative career, spanning four years studying Textile Design at Massey University and three years in ‘the real world’, Paige Jarman has worked as an illustrator, painter, textile designer, potter and librarian.
The last role is her day job. But the second to last, pottery, is the creative vocation that has usurped all the others – and the one which Paige hopes will soon allow her to give up the book stamping too.


After only two years behind the pottery wheel, Paige already had cause to drop her librarian hours when she was inundated with orders in the lead up to Christmas last year. But, although pottery continues to be such a demanding sideline that it fills her weekends and evenings, Paige doesn’t mind the pressure at all.
“I love working with my hands and you don’t get much more handsy than this,” she says. “I enjoyed textile design, but most of the projects involved making small square samples, because it wasn’t commercially viable to take each thing through to a finished piece of wallpaper or fabric. But when I apply the surface design aspect of my degree to what I’ve learnt from my courses at the Wellington Potters’ Association, I get ‘a thing’ to show for my work at the end of it.”


Not that she gets to admire these things for very long – people are waiting in line  to line their own shelves with the young potter’s dishes and bowls.
Things took off last year, after Paige spotted a profile of online design store Mekka on Studio Home. Noting the store shared both her design aesthetic and ethos of ‘what you’re eating on influences your enjoyment of a meal as much as what you’re eating’, she decided to flick them an email. “They came back saying yes, they wanted to stock my products,” Paige says. “And everything snowballed from there. Looking back at it, I’m amazed I emailed Mekka at all. The timing was right.”


And now the timing is right to keep taking risks; experimenting with her style. “I have a set-up at home – a detached shed with a secondhand wheel and a table that my flatmate made me. I sit down and play around and see what comes out of it.”
What has come out of it so far, besides getting stocked by major design stores and filling orders from around the country, is ensuring that her own dinner parties are pretty special. “I really
enjoy cooking and I love being able to make plates and bowls that are as much a feature of the meal as the food is – I like the whole thing to be a handmade experience.”


As for the experience of being a potter, is this likely to be the last creative incarnation for a while? “I think so,” Paige says. “I’ve been notorious in the past for changing direction, but I’ve surprised myself in that I can envisage being a potter for a long time yet – I just love it.”

Words Gena Tuffery   
Photography Bonny Stewart-MacDonald


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