The Pottery Shed on Nickson Street was started by California expat Joe Darling. The airy warehouse is lined with eclectic wares from pottery apprentices; people drift in and out, some at the wheels, others at the far end colour glazing their latest creations.
Incense is burning, a few people are chatting in the corner with clay dried up to their elbows. Looking around this bohemian haven in the heart of inner city Sydney, it seems you can’t take the Cali out of the man.
Stephan Gyory is a local legend. Long-time Potts Point resident, owner of The Record Store, Sydney nightlife advocate and president of the Darlinghurst Business Partnership – most recently, Stephan is a self-proclaimed pottery fanatic.
We meet in the Shed and I pull up a stool next to him. He’s throwing a new piece. After ten months of regular visits Stephan looks at one with the clay, worlds away from his first class.
“You learn the hard way,” he says. “You have to be prepared to fail and just learn from those failures, basically.”
He tells me you start with three classes – throwing, trimming and glazing, all $59 each – where you’re taught the basic skills.
“Each teacher shows you slightly different versions, but once you get to a certain point there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Beyond the very basics, it’s whatever works for you to get your desired result.”
After the three initial training classes, you’re free to come back as a returning student. These sessions are two-hour bookings at $39 each, where you can use the Shed space and all materials required to create independently.
“I’ve learnt that if you are too rough or in a hurry, you fuck everything up,” Stephan says as he shapes something across between a cup and a bowl.
“Often like life it’s much better if you take a bit more time with something. Be gentle with it, otherwise you’ll destroy everything.”
Ryan, one of the teachers, interjects from the wheel on my right. “Pottery teaches you to be kind to yourself and to appreciate things for what they are, the beauty in things that aren’t perfect.”
Stephan stops the wheel and peels his creation from the base with a piece of string.
“I think I’m vibing this wonky cup,” he says. “I embrace wonky cups now.”
The Shed door is open all day, just check the website for session times. The booking system is fully automated and online.
The Pottery Shed
7 Nickson Street Surry Hills