Sea and shore: an Ōtautahi potter’s coastal inspiration

Ōtautahi Christchurch potter Meg Roulston makes beautiful, practical, hand built and wheel thrown ceramic homewares with the aim of bringing warmth to daily rituals and make little moments special. The glazes she creates are inspired by the environment around her Southshore home, nestled between the estuary and sea.

What do you make?
Ceramics handmade from the heart, for the heart. I enjoy making functional homewares that are both beautiful and practical, that people reach for every day.

Currently my favourite form is the garlic/ginger grater.  My friend asked me to make her one, which initially I thought was a gimmick! But it works so well. We use it daily for hot ginger tea, or for making delicious curry, stir fry and casseroles. I’m such a convert to it. I had to eat my words and send my friend a thank you for getting me to make them.

I love making handmade plates and bowls too.  I’m a firm believer that food just tastes better off a handmade plate.  But plates take up a huge amount of space in the kiln, so I never make many at a time.

How did you get into your craft?
As a child I have memories of my Dad (a hobby potter) working on his wheel in our garage, and attending pit-firings with him at Craft Potters in Hope Nelson.  I have such a strong memory of visiting Royce McGlashen’s studio on Sunday drives, and he had this amazing hand built sculpture in his garden with sort of peepholes in it and there were creatures hiding in the bottom when you peeped in (I think owls but I might be remembering that wrong).

I always held a desire to try it, and I got around to giving it a go in my 30s. Like most who try pottery, I loved it.  But it was an off-and-on again hobby for many years while my children were young. I only seriously got back into pottery as a hobby five years ago and it was only one year ago that I built a home studio and started selling my work.

Over the last year I have done a deep dive learning the chemistry of glaze making. I really enjoy testing and creating glazes, which I’m still tweaking to ensure they are durable and fit the clay that I use. I love using NZ clay. I feel very fortunate to be working with muddy hands.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I don’t have formal training in the sense of a fine arts degree or diploma in ceramics. I learnt ceramics at Canterbury Potters Association, My tutors include Michael Michaels, Margaret Ryley and Alex Prentice. I am a bit of a magpie learner and sign up for most workshops going so have had the pleasure to learn from Tatyanna Meharry, Gwen Parsens, Duncan Shearer, Kim Henderson and Royce McGlashen to name a few.

Most recently I completed the international Ceramics Material Workshop glaze making courses with Matt & Rose Katz.  Their teaching is inspiring and has been a game changer for me being able to make my own glazes. I still buy some commercial glazes but overtime I hope to switch to all my own.

There are so many rabbit holes you can dive down with ceramics; you could never learn it all.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite method is the humble pinch pot, my hands intuitively know what to do with the clay to pinch the form.  I mainly do this as a warmup in my studio and my pinched forms are really just for me. The pinch pot is meditative, and I love how the finger imprints leave impressions on the clay.

What inspires you?
I live in Southshore – a spit nestled between the estuary and sea in Ōtautahi Christchurch.  The coastal environment influences me.  I love the natural colours and hues of the sand, the dunes, the sea grasses, the water and the sky.

What has been a highlight of your maker journey so far?
Definitely learning from potters far more experienced than me.  Duncan Shearer’s workshop learning how to ring throw and alter forms was a highlight.  I would like to attend one of his wood firings one day.  He is so knowledgeable and a good story teller.

Describe your workspace
My workspace is tiny. When my Dad died recently, I built my tiny studio within our garage as a bit of a homage to him. It is insulated and my kiln is ducted outside.  It is a lovely space to be in. I know my Dad would be incredibly chuffed with it and proud of what I am doing. 

I have an old baker’s shelf that I found on the street, one work table, my potter’s wheel and my kiln.  Glazing making materials and reclaim buckets all live under the worktable. So it is tight.  I have to be thoughtful in my production so that it flows – something I am still working out, I’m not a naturally tidy person.

Your favourite feedback from a customer
“Meg’s pottery is always excellent quality and so well received by those we gift it to as well – your pottery is my ‘go-to’ for gifts” was a particularly uplifting review to receive.

What are you currently listening to?
On repeat in my studio currently is Delaney Davidson’s new album Out of my Head.  Last year it was Troy Kingi and Avantadale Bowling Club. And there is usually a podcast playing…I’m always in need of new podcast recommendations so please send them my way.

A favourite quote
“Life is amazing.  And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again.  And in between the amazing and awful is the ordinary and mundane and routine.  Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary.” – L.R. Knost.

I love this because it really sums up life’s twists and turns. I’ve learnt I genuinely love the long exhales of ordinary and mundane. I’m quite a sentimental person and this quote lifts me when I need it.

What does it mean to you when someone buys your creations?
It still gives me the most incredible pinch-me moment that someone finds my work beautiful and wants it in their home or to give as a cherished gift.  To say I’m chuffed is an understatement.  Thank You!

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A walnut wooden pot stirrer, from a fellow Felt maker Wood and Chisel.  It is so beautifully crafted and a joy to use daily when making dinner.  Most of us are surrounded by everyday objects that lack beauty and creativity, well this pot stirrer is a thing of beauty and created with such talent.

I also regularly buy sourdough bread from our local bread maker Jerry & George. 

I love supporting local makers and small businesses, I think it is so important to support them as it makes for a vibrant interesting community.  Without makers and creators and risk takers, our world would be pretty dull and mass produced.