A potter’s perspective: how handcrafted wares enhance our lives

Rotorua potter Selwyn Hatrick of Geyser Pots has been making domestic pottery (on and off) for more than forty years. More recently he became interested in Bonsai and has added a range of beautiful, unique glazed Bonsai pots to his domestic pottery wares.


What do you make?
I make pottery bonsai pots and domestic wear.

How did you get into your craft?
On shifting to Rotorua in 1974 I saw pottery classes advertised. On joining I found myself in a class of about forty. It was very, very basic.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I have no formal training in pottery since attending the pottery class. I am very largely self-taught.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I mainly use clays that are mid-fired (between earthenware and stoneware temperatures). To my mind it combines the best properties of high and low fired techniques.

Tell us about some of the the techniques involved in producing a bonsai pot
At this time my bonsai pots are constructed from rolled slabs of clay that are coaxed into moulds that I make from timber, plaster or bisque-fired clay.



What inspires you?
My pots are both decorative and useful. The knowledge that they enhance people’s lives inspires me.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
There are very few original concepts in art or craft. My pots are my own individual interpretations of existing concepts. I like to make a pot that I can instantly recognise that I made, even if it was made a long time ago.

I also like my pots to have properties that reflect that they are hand made, very distinct from something made using industrial processes.

Describe your creative process:
My creative process often begins in the early hours when most people sleep. If I awaken, I often think through processes that I need to work out to improve a product or to produce a new one.


Describe your workspace:
My studio measures three by three metres. It is deliberately compact. This forces me to frequently tidy up, otherwise I tend to be a bit undisciplined! I prefer creating to tidying!

Five words that describe your mind:
Analytical, creative, focussed, determined, empathetic.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
Some time ago a lady from Tauranga bought a number of domestic wear pots of mine. Over the following year she tried to find who had made them. When she finally tracked me down she explained that she loved them, and she used them every day, and wanted to thank me for making them. That gave me a wonderful ‘buzz’. I had enhanced her life!


What are you currently listening to?
I listen to a wide range of music ranging from classical, jazz, to modern. At the moment I am listening to a lot of classical guitar. I am fascinated to find most of these artists are young women from Eastern Europe.

Recommend an album:
On YouTube I have been listening to a young classical guitarist, Tatyana Ryzhkova. Her interpretation and expression is excellent!

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
Good question! That goes back far enough that I can’t remember.

What are you reading now?
I am just reading a bit of technical information on pottery glazes. No books at this time.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Look to see what other crafts people are doing. Find out what works, and what doesn’t. Make a plan and go for it!

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I can’t remember when. I am too busy making them!



What’s in store for 2018?
I am going to expand my range of pottery to include domesticware (teapots, baking dishes, etc.). I will continue teaching pottery classes for the Rotorua Potters Group. There is a possibility that I might teach a week of pottery classes in the Chatham Islands, but this is not yet a done deal. Later in the year I might be going to the USA to do presentations to orchid societies on an orchid potting medium that is being developed in this country. Lots of interesting things to do in my retirement!

Prize draw!
Selwyn has very kindly offered a gorgeous prize for one lucky Felt reader of this vibrantly glazed cup and saucer set from his domesticware range (see below).

If you would like to be in to win, let us know what you enjoyed reading about Selwyn’s story and Geyser Pots. The draw closes at 5pm on Monday 19 March and is open to New Zealand residents only.


Purchase beautiful ceramics from Geyser Pots now »

12 thoughts on “A potter’s perspective: how handcrafted wares enhance our lives

  1. I enjoyed reading about how small his studio is – amazing! I remember Selwyn coming to my intermediate school in Rotorua almost 30 years ago to teach us pottery. Such an incredibly talented, passionate man!

  2. I enjoyed the entire article. He loves what he is doing and is willing to help others achieve, but is also looking at expanding his work too.

    I would love one of the beautiful cup and saucer sets that Selwyn made. I would be the envy of the staffroom as I drank from it 🙂

  3. I love it that after 40 years of making pottery that he has kept his passion alive and continues to make and create beautiful hand made peices that are all individual.

  4. I love that Selwyn has such a small space to create all this in. I always think of studios as being big rooms but in fact the idea that having a small space, kept organised and tidy, is really quite enough.

  5. Self taught! Amazing. That first green drippy pot is giving me life. Amazing work. Also loved reading about the woman that tracked you down. I can see why!

  6. I love that his workspace is deliberately small in an attempt to encourage him to tidy up after himself. If only I had the same discipline! It is also wonderufl to hear about the customer who tracked him down. Postitive feedback means the world to people who sell their own work for a living.

  7. I enjoyed reading that Selwyn purposefully creates in a manner which results in a distinctive and discernably handcrafted style. Handcrafted looking earthenware is my favourite kind! It was also interesting to read about how his interest in pottery has led to a wider range of related interests and opportunities, such as orchid potting and bonsai.

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