What is it about the seaside that makes us so relaxed do you think? The sounds of the waves, crashing on a windy day against the shoreline, or gently nibbling at the beach on a still one; the lazy days spent sprawled out on a towel, toes in the sand as we grow up in Australia? Or maybe it is the idea that you can take off across the sea and visit lands faraway, long held memories from a time before we could take to the skies. Sarah Webb, owner of Sea Soul Studio, has a very special relationship with the sea. She works in her studio at home: Thorne Cottage, an 1830’s cottage by the sea in the Southern Beaches corner of Tasmania. She has an online store, attends Salamanca Market most weekends and supplies a select handful of boutique stores and galleries with her beautiful work that comes from the earth and speaks of the sea.
Making handcrafted ceramics for home and body, Sarah uses a variety of Australian clays including white earthenware and midfire clay, terracotta and porcelain. Her studio is slathered with solar panels, so she only runs the kiln on sunny days. It also provides most of the power Sarah and her partner need for the house. “We are not connected to town water, all our water is what we catch on our roof surfaces, so let’s just say my landscaping around the studio is quite “Mediterranean”! I always use recycled cardstock for printing my promotional material and as much as possible, package all orders in recycled boxes, post satchels and bubble wrap”.
Who are you? Tell us about the people behind the business
I’ve always been a creative type; growing up my parents had a stall at Salamanca Market and I was allowed to sell my handicrafts and earnt quite decent pocket money. Looking back now, this taught me so much about customer relations, hard work and evolving as an artist.
How did you start the business and what inspired you?
My “proper” career was as a chef, in that role I could explore my creativity and love of connecting people to an experience. As fulfilling as this was, it is extremely hard on the body and sometimes quite stressful. My wrists suffered an ongoing RSI injury and I was unable to work and looking down the barrel of surgery, with no real guarantee of how my wrists would be afterwards. So, in those weeks of rest, I decided not to have surgery, to accept that I’d pushed my wrists enough and that this was a wonderful opportunity to start something for myself.
I undertook a number of courses in handbuilt pottery and was hooked, I’d found my thing! It still blows my mind that almost anything I can imagine, I can have a go at creating from clay. Of course, whether that creation then holds up to the rigors of drying, firing and glazing is a whole other story. Sometimes it’s nice to just play.
Today I am inspired by old china fragments that we find in the grounds of our property and I like to create pieces that I hope will become tomorrow’s heirlooms. I also get lots of inspiration when I travel; my husband, dog and I have just returned from 3 months on the road in our bus Madeline, and I’m brimming with new ideas!
What are your thoughts on sustainability and how is this part of your business and own home?
As a child of the 70’s, with bohemian parents, I was brought up on homegrown vegetables and homeopathic remedies. My mum used to make most of our clothes, she was a wonderful seamstress and knitter; I can still remember a favourite pair of overalls she made me from an old sheet that she tye-died! I suppose I have an inbuilt “base level “ of sustainability that is unconscious, it’s just how I am, but the world is changing so rapidly, we have more than ever, a responsibility to make the best choices we can, all day, every day. For example, if I forget to take my own cup to buy a take-away coffee, I’ll at least say no to the plastic lid, lots of little things add up to making a difference.
At home we grow a lot of our own food and keep a motley crew of chickens. I find it astounding that people throw food out; the pecking order for scraps in our house goes like this: Husband, dog, chooks, worm farm, compost bin. I also add most of our paper and cardboard waste into the compost. I buy nearly all of my clothes second hand and occasionally indulge in a beautiful handmade something by one of my clever friends. Most of our furniture has come through my husband’s family but if we need a bookshelf or side table, I will always buy antique, they’ve outlived the previous generation and I’m sure will outlive several more, plus I love a bit of character and patina, give me the rusty, chipped and cracked things, I’ll love them! Vintage and recycled is part of the story of my business; my stall at markets and my photography for the online store always feature treasured finds, being supporting actors to my ceramics.
Do you have any tips for other people wanting to create a sustainable home?
- Do some style-stalking on blogs/Pinterest/Instagram, see what appeals to you and feels achievable, start there.
- Always choose beauty and truth, take a moment, breathe, and choose/respond from the best part of yourself. I always keep this mantra as my inner compass, sometimes it feels easier to choose the quick and easy, but just like take-away food, it nearly always leaves a nasty after-taste and you wish you hadn’t.
- And be careful not to confuse sentimentality with sustainability! An over-cluttered home (and we all have our own level of tolerance for clutter) can be a source of stress and dust, neither of which make for happy, healthy inhabitants.
Would you like to share a favourite piece of work?
I don’t have a favourite item that I’ve made,as that is always the next thing I’m dreaming of. But my favourite part of what I do is seeing a customer respond so strongly to one of my one-off pieces, they know instantly that it was made for them, funnily this usually happens around the time that I start wondering if I was completely off the mark making that particular item and that I’m the only person who “gets it” so I’ll have to keep it!!
Find Sarah and her wares on the Sustainable Home Hub
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