We know Jem from studying with her in Winchester School of Art, four years ago! Jem and myself (Nicola) were both in illustration but that didn’t stop up from going in to a creative job. Now? She’s living on the other side of the world and creating… well, that’d ruin this piece. Over to you Jem. You can also find Jem’s work on her Instagram.
From a very young age I’ve had a passion for making things, and over the years I’ve taught myself many different crafts. Whilst I was studying ‘Illustration’ at Winchester School of Art, I found myself exploring ‘The Handmade’ and established that I have this passion for crafts because I value the sentiment that a handmade object holds.
Not long after graduating I moved to beautiful Sydney. My partner was sponsored for work, and I went along too. Four years on I’m now a resident and a budding ceramicist. Not knowing how to start a creative career has been a struggle to say the least. I’ve always enjoyed too many things, and I guess you could say I’m a jack-of-all-trades but master of none. But, then came something new.
Last July, the peak of Australian winter I needed a hobby, something to do until beach season arrived again. I’d always wanted to do wheel thrown pottery, and just hadn’t got around to doing so. I did my research and found a beginner class in the heart of Surry Hills, which in London geography is Sydney’s Brick Lane. It was at the Pottery Shed where I learnt the basics, three weeks, and two finished pots to show.
The basics of pottery involve throwing, which is making the basic shape on the pottery wheel, my favourite part! Trimming, which is where the base of the pot is shaped, and excess clay shaved off. Then finished by the most terrifying part of all, the glazing. It’s at this stage where its make or break, will the glaze be what I hope for? You just never know; which is why I’m currently making test bricks. Lots of little chunks of clay dipped in each glaze for my own set of colour swatches.
It’s in the throwing stage that I get the most satisfaction. There’s something so therapeutic about the feel of the clay, the motion of the wheel spinning and symmetry of the clay as the shape is formed. Of course it took time to get to this stage, after having many mugs turn into sauce ramekins and bowls flop into an unstable heap. I can now say that each throwing is usually quite the success.
Soon I hope to sell my pots, I plan to set up and Etsy store in the up and coming months. From there, gage the interest, get some feedback and do occasional markets. I can’t wait to get to this stage, I’ve always been a ‘market girl’ and feel they always have such a sense of community and Sydney is great for this. People are so friendly and Aussie’s love supporting local businesses.
Maybe one day I’ll be able to quit my day job and live The Dream. I’ve always said I’d love to make things and sell them. The problem was there was never a thing I could set my mind on. But I feel like I’ve found my calling, and funnily enough my family name Pankhania which originates from India derives from a term meaning one who works as a Potter. So maybe its ‘meant to be’ and one day I’ll have my own little studio, make, sell and along side have an espresso bar. I’d love to run workshops and classes and share my love of making with others. But until then I’m content to making for family and friends and soon enough hopefully take orders.