It always amuses me to see Christmas cards and shop window decorations featuring snow, icicles and all the wintry attributes of a Northern hemisphere festive season. The reality here in New Zealand is quite the opposite; global climate change aside, the Christmas period is one of seasonal change. After months of rainy cold weather we seem to move abruptly to what could best be described as tropical weather...the temperature increases along with the cloud cover and the humidity. Fine hot days become more common, but still not enough to guarantee a fine Christmas day. The best is yet to come, and it is generally accepted that our really glorious weather won’t arrive until February, just in time to welcome in the start of the new school year!
The pottery has been and still is to some extent governed by the seasons. In years gone by the arrival of spring saw the annual clay harvest, where the wet clay is dug from the face of the quarry and spread over the adjacent paddock in anticipation of the impending hot, dry weather. This annual event heralded the start of a new production cycle, psychologically if not actually reflecting the fortunes of the company- the ongoing mining of clay symbolizing confidence in the future. On occasions this was very much so, with clay processing barely keeping up with production, but at other less prosperous times, the accumulation of raw material far exceed the actual need.
This year for the first time in quite a few years, we won’t be harvesting clay, but not because we need to make less. Despite the difficult economic times our output has remained steady, even increasing slightly. It would seem that during more cautious times, the value of enduring high quality objects that have the potential to span generations become more attractive - something stable in an uncertain world. It’s easy to read too much into this of course, it could be that the bright colors cheer people up; it could be as simple as that! But in a society awash with disposable things, attractive objects that last are a positive option well worth considering.
The reason why we are not harvesting this year is efficiency, we are simply doing more with less. Although we can’t change dramatically overnight, everyone here keeps an eye open for ways to make cleaner, more efficient, and less wasteful our production. The consistency and quality of the clay is much better, so there are less rejects, and consequently we are using less clay to produce more finished pottery.
And so the clay storage shed is full, and estimates are that we will have plenty for the coming year. We’ve a number of exciting projects already underway that should see the light of day during 2013, and of course we’ll continue to release new designs, colors and shapes as we go. So keep an eye on the blog and pop in and see us if you’re out this way. The tours around the pottery run throughout the holiday period starting at 11.30 am, which is a great way to see firsthand how everything is made. Our visitors love to meet the people who make the pots and are genuinely surprised at the amount of work that goes into each one.
Have a great Christmas break and best wishes for the New Year!
- Nick C