Tag Archives: Reduction-fired pottery

Summer 2023 / 2024 at Bukkenburg

Season’s Greetings from Swellendam and our Best Wishes for 2024

Hello and warm summer greetings from Bukkenburg at the Summer Solstice.

Entrance to Bukkenburg – the studio, gallery and guest cottage.

Preparing this summer update amidst a world engulfed in turmoil, from wars in the Middle East and Eastern Europe and other areas, to widespread conflict across continents, is a surreal experience.

Closer to home a substantial portion of the local population grapples with desperate conditions and dim prospects where so much around us seems to be collapsing.

The stark contrast between the world of our digital update and the harsh realities unfolding nationally and globally underscores the complexity of our current times.

As we strive to enhance our virtual landscape, the awareness of the conflict between our life and work and the tumultuous state of the world remains palpable, urging an attentive reflection of the broader context.

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Summer is in full swing and we hope that you will enjoy this update with our various bits of news, and some of our personal story.

We’ll include some of the highlights of the past few months and the transition from winter to summer.

We appreciate your interest and thank you for your ongoing support.

(The pictures should expand with a click)

Swellendam – November 2023

David and Felicity

The art of high temperature studio pottery since 1973

Yes, that’s right; we have been making pots together for 50 years!

“Still life with James – and Pots”

In 1972, our journey began as house parents at Cresset House, a Camphill School and Training Centre for children and young adults in need of special care. This experience laid the foundation for a meaningful way of life that has sustained us for decades.

A pivotal moment came through our friendship with the renowned potter and artist, Tim Morris, during our early years together. Tim’s influence in watercolour painting and high-temperature studio pottery, rooted in Leach’s Anglo-Oriental aesthetic, resonated with our quest for a self-sufficient lifestyle fostering creative fulfilment.

Motivated by the desire to care for Felicity’s son, James, who sustained a childhood injury, we established a pottery studio at Cresset House. Tim provided invaluable guidance and mentorship, connecting us to the broader studio pottery community, particularly within the Association of Potters of Southern Africa, now Ceramics Southern Africa.

It was during 1973 that we started the pottery studio at Cresset House and ran that alongside our role as house parents to 12 young people, managing the bakery, dairy and vegetable garden; and we remained there until 1976 when we moved into our own studio space in rented premises in Johannesburg.

These pivotal years directed us toward the realm of home-based studio pottery and ceramics. Over time, we’ve managed to nurture both our art and craft, and our family, as James, our responsibility, shaped our unique domestic and professional landscape.

This unusual scenario places us in dual roles—providing absolute care for another person while infusing our work with purpose and significance.

It intertwines the personal and professional, allowing us to give life and meaning to the work we produce within the intimate confines of our home.

Fifty years making pots together with twenty seven of them in Swellendam – we are looking ahead to the New Year 2024 – more below.

Our website details much of this journey, offering insights into the historical context and networks that shaped our pursuit.

For those intrigued, further information can be found through these links:

https://pottery.co.za/about-us/
https://pottery.co.za/about-us/david-schlapobersky/
https://pottery.co.za/about-us/felicity-potter/biography-and-cv/

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Johannesburg – 1981 (by this time already making pots for about 8 years)


Over the years we have exhibited our work widely in group and solo exhibitions and executed numerous commissions.
Since moving to Swellendam in 1996 we have run a modest gallery attached to the studio, and have been fortunate enough to have received extensive media coverage from our time in both Johannesburg and Swellendam.

Explore copies of several of the magazine articles featuring us and our work at this link:

https://pottery.co.za/about-us/media-2media/some-articles/

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Life and work at Bukkenburg –
the second half of 2023

We have lived and worked in this very beautiful part of the country for many years, and we are deeply aware of how fortunate we are to have found this place when we did, both of us marvelling almost daily at the beauty that surrounds us.

We are continuously rewarded by the visits and  support of so many people, locals and travellers who continue to stop in to enjoy the world that we have created here, and the work that we produce; family, friends, colleagues, pottery/ceramics enthusiasts, or casual drop-ins

Our guest cottage continues to enjoy good support as well.

Thankfully our backup power system is working well for now as is the new alternative power supply to the studio for the fan that powers the big kilns, so work in the studio continues uninterrupted again.

The past few months have been both busy and intriguing, and we’re happy to share some moments in this update.

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Some pictures of recently fired work:

Pyrometric cones: 10, 11, 12, after one of our glaze firings

Pyrometric Cones

Pyrometric cones have been used as an accurate measure of ‘Heat work Done’ since Wedgewood and the Industrial Revolution.
Our top cone for a glaze firing is Cone 12 which measures the work done at about 1 320 degrees C.

There is a good explanation of them at this link: Pyrometric Cones

Felicity, with head torch, looking into the newly opened warm kiln after a glaze firing.

Reduction Firing with Oil – a brief overview

All our work is reduction fired with oil, usually paraffin (kerosene) in either one of two fairly big studio kilns, and we thought it a good idea to try and explain some of the technicalities and alchemy involved in our process:

Reduction is firing where the kiln atmosphere has insufficient oxygen for complete combustion (more fuel than air to burn it).
At high temperatures, this produces carbon monoxide gas, which will steal loosely-bonded oxygen from other materials, in ceramics mainly iron and copper.

Reduction firing with oil is a specialized technique employed in ceramic and pottery production to achieve unique and stunning results.

This method involves introducing a controlled amount of oil or organic material into the kiln’s atmosphere during the firing process. The primary goal of reduction firing with oil is to create an oxygen-deprived environment inside the kiln, which has a transformative effect on the clay and glazes.

During reduction firing, the oil combusts, consuming the available oxygen and generating carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide gases. These gases then interact with the clay and glazes, leading to several distinct outcomes. One of the most notable effects is the reduction of metallic oxides in the clay and glazes, resulting in vibrant and unpredictable colour variations. The carbon-rich atmosphere can also produce unique surface textures and finishes, such as matte, satin, or even iridescent effects.

Artists and potters often use reduction firing with oil to create striking and individualized pieces of ceramics, each with its own character and personality.

However, this method requires a deep understanding of kiln control, precise monitoring of the reduction process, and a careful balance of oil and oxygen levels to achieve consistent and desired results. Mastery of reduction firing with oil allows for limitless creative possibilities in the world of ceramics, making it a cherished technique among skilled artisans”

Porcelain:


This statement has resonated with us for the longest time:

We are the sum of our experience and all who have preceded us, and our commitment embraces an approach implying that life and work are indivisible”

Stoneware

Mugs

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Living and working in a highly regarded municipality, considered among the nation’s best managed, we were unexpectedly confronted with the disruptive consequences of civil and political unrest in August, leading to the destruction of vital municipal infrastructure.

A high court interdict in Cape Town seems to have quelled the turmoil, with news of instigators facing local court appearances.

Given the impending high-stakes national and provincial elections in 2024, it appears that such incidents may be fuelled by broader issues affecting the country.

Despite our fortunate local circumstances, the recent upheaval serves as a stark reminder of the complex challenges underlying the political landscape.

Here are some newspaper pictures taken during the riots:

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A special lunch here in July on a perfect sunny mid-winters day – three birthdays being celebrated: David, Felicity, and our neighbour Stephen.

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In August a refreshing visit from David’s brother Colin who lives in the UK. He hadn’t been out to this country for many years.
We last saw them in London ten years ago!

He was here with his daughter Kate and granddaughter Erin.

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Interesting visitors recently

A routine day in the studio transformed into an extraordinary experience with the unexpected visit of the then Lithuanian Ambassador to South Africa, accompanied by his wife and a group of friends, one of whom was a potter eager to explore our workspace.

Despite the brevity, the encounter proved warm, sincere, and remarkably productive, forging connections that we anticipate will endure in the future.

The significance of this visit deepened as we reflected on David’s heritage, with all four of his grandparents hailing from Lithuania, having arrived in South Africa before the horrors of the Holocaust unfolded in June 1941. During that dark period, over 95% of Lithuania’s Jewish population, around 210,000 individuals, fell victim to Nazi and Lithuanian paramilitary collaboration, with approximately 195,000 murdered between June and December 1941.

Our family’s connection to Keidan (Kėdainiai) in Lithuania, particularly the Schlapobersky side, has unveiled the tragic fate suffered during those times. We aspire to uncover more about our roots in Lithuania, exploring the stories of our other grandparents’ families from Panevezys, Rokiskis, and Krekenava—namely, the Adelsons, Romms, and Rabinowitzes.

The quest for understanding and preserving our family history remains an ongoing journey.

We are in contact now with the director and researcher at the Museum in Keidan (Kėdainiai) and we’re looking forward to a productive ongoing interaction.

The warmth and sensitivity of this visit gave us both hope for a better future.


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Stop in at the studio …

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Swellendam – on the way to everywhere …

Swellendam beneath the towering Langeberg Mountains

With all that the town has to offer visitors, it is sad that in recent years, Swellendam has operated without an organized tourism body with a plan or strategy in operation.

We acknowledge and value the tireless work of individuals striving to maintain the visibility and prominence of the town and its surrounding region.

Despite the absence of a coordinated effort, these dedicated individuals contribute significantly to sustaining the profile of Swellendam, ensuring it remains a notable destination.

Their hard work plays a vital role in helping to promote the town and enhancing its appeal for visitors.

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Accommodation at the Studio in Swellendam

Our guest cottage in the garden during summer

Our self-catering guest cottage in the garden, shown above, is available for an overnight stay or longer.

Details and pictures on the ‘Accommodation Page’ Click Here

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Looking ahead

In these increasingly dangerous and turbulent times, understanding the state of our world—both locally and globally—poses immense challenges as we are forced to grapple with multifaceted issues trying to recognise a clear picture.

Financial concerns loom large, intensifying the uncertainty we face.

South Africa, in particular, contends with a pervasive breakdown in public administration and infrastructure, comprehensive socio-economic decline, staggering unemployment rates, collapsing health and education systems, and uncontrollable crime and violence.

Corruption has become a pervasive force impacting all aspects of life.

Uncertainty and confusion surround the build-up to national and provincial elections scheduled for 2024, with indications of an increase in political instability and violence, and growing inefficiencies in governance, especially in the light of ongoing civil unrest.

On a global scale, apprehensions heighten as the foundations of an older order strain under pressure, with the possibility of significant implications.

Post-pandemic economic recovery, climate change mitigation, and technological advancements are beginning to redefine our landscape. Prioritizing sustainable development and digital transformation becomes imperative in our complex global environment.

Simultaneously, geopolitical tensions persist and deepen, necessitating greater diplomatic skill, and perhaps even a different and better kind of leadership.

Escalating war and regional conflicts inflict unbearable suffering on affected populations, underscoring the urgency for effective international cooperation and resolution.

Bigotry, prejudice, and intolerance perpetuate divisive attitudes that hinder societal progress, fostering identity-based conflicts in an environment devoid of empathy and understanding.

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities”

Voltaire

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Double collared sunbird photographed outside the studio.

And in the studio right now

We have just completed an intensive glaze testing cycle, and our recent glaze firings have produced several exciting test pieces.

We’ve chosen several of the new glazes to explore further, and have bought in raw materials for mixing bulk batches of those chosen.

So, in the studio there’s much excitement and gratitude.

Anticipation fills the studio as we look forward to making the pots to begin using these new glazes and glaze combinations.

As the year winds down, we’re all in good health thankfully, though the pace has noticeably slowed.

It’s another high moment in our creative pursuit.

Here are just two examples of what’s on the horizon, promising something vibrant and innovative in the months ahead.

Good reason for a dose of optimism!

Thank you for your interest and support, and for taking the time to read through this update.
We welcome your feedback.


With our very best wishes for the festive season and 2024

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – December 2023

Mobile & WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 342 5453
Email: david@pottery.co.za

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We hope that you will visit and support our various Social Media pages:
Facebook Studio Page
Facebook – Bukkenburg Pottery
Facebook Accommodation Page
Facebook – David
Instagram

Swellendam – December 2023


“May you be surrounded by friends and family, and if this is not your lot, may the blessings find you in your solitude

Leonard Cohen


– Our autumn newsletter is below these double lines –

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Autumn 2023 at Bukkenburg

Hello and warm greetings from Bukkenburg in Swellendam as we approach the Autumn Equinox.

From the low-water crossing over the Breede River at Drew, about 25 km west of Swellendam – click to enlarge.

It has been a rather busy few months here, and we have much to share in this newsletter/blog post. Here’s hoping that you enjoy the contents.
All the pictures should enlarge with a click.

Saturday 18 March

A different sort of event this month as David and his brother John will be in conversation at Bokmakiri Books in Swellendam talking about John’s memoir
‘When They Came For Me : The Hidden Diary Of An Apartheid Prisoner’.

An earlier event to launch the book here, without John, had to be postponed due to increased Covid-19 restrictions in force at the time.

John will be in South Africa during March, taking part in the Jewish Literary Festival in Cape Town on Human Rights Day, March 21, and later for engagements in Johannesburg.

We are delighted that he will finally be here and look forward to a meaningful event in Swellendam with him, and we are most grateful to Eduan Swanepoel from Bokmakiri Books for hosting the event.

The event is open to the public and we hope to see some of you there.

The event is open to the public and all are welcome.

The Venue
Please click for: Bokmakiri Books
Shop 7
Carlton Mall
Voortrek Street
Swellendam
Tel: 083 651 5830


Context

John Schlapobersky, a student in South Africa, was arrested in 1969 for opposing apartheid, tortured through sleep deprivation and eventually deported. In solitary confinement he wrote secretly about the struggle for survival. This exquisitely written memoir is based on two hidden diaries – one in his Bible and the other on toilet paper. He reflects on the singing of the condemned prisoners and the poetry, songs and texts that saw him through his ordeal. The sense of hope through which he transformed his life guides his continuing work as a psychotherapist in the rehabilitation of others. Apartheid and its resistance come to life in this vital historical document, of its time and for our own.

Author
John is a leading psychotherapist and author based in London.
In 1985 he was a Founding Trustee of  ‘Freedom from Torture’, a human rights charity. 

His publications include ‘From The Couch To The Circle: Group-Analytic Psychotherapy In Practice’ (Routledge 2016), winner of the American Group Psychotherapy Association’s Alonso Award in 2017, now in translation to other language editions.

Endorsements:

‘An exquisitely written memoir about human endurance, survival, repair and transcendence.’ 
Justice Albie Sachs

‘An intriguing story of endurance and survival. A reminder of times, and the people who resisted them, that should never be forgotten.’ 
Gillian Slovo

‘One of the most vivid, intimate and sustained accounts yet, of the brutality that apartheid’s torturers unleashed – a remarkable book about our inhumanity and the resilience of the human spirit.’ 
Jonathan Jansen, Professor, University of Stellenbosch

‘The tale of an ordinary young man swept one day from his life into hell, testimony to the wickedness a political system let loose in its agents and, above all, an intimate account of how a man became a healer.’ 
Jonny Steinberg, Professor, African Studies Centre, University of Oxford

John has made surviving into…an act of creative protest (and) a means to bear witness for the many who did not survive.’ 
Jack Saul, Director, International Trauma Studies Program, New York.

Please click this link for – An article in The South African Jewish Report

Please click this link for – Jewish Literary Festival

Please click this link to reach the South African publisher of the book: Jonathan Ball
Please click this link for the UK publisher of the book: Berghahn Books

Norwich – 2013

Members of the extended family, UK, South Africa and USA on Zoom having received their copies of the book.

Life and work at Bukkenburg in the first months of 2023.

Such a busy time here lately!
We are pleased to report that we have at last found a solution – for our studio – to the nightmarish consequence of collapsing electricity supply that is plaguing the country.

It has involved buying a new motor for the fan and installing a Variable Speed Drive to convert our single phase backup electricity supply to the studio, to 3-phase in order to power the motor and be able to fire the kiln.

Sophisticated electrics requiring the services of a really competent electrician to make it all work together. Thankfully Swellendam is blessed with such skills!

And so thankful to have Andrew helping with the whole project.

We have fired the big kiln successfully with this new system and another glaze firing is imminent.

We are sure that it won’t be too long before things finally settle down a bit.

Family visit

Marian and Peter were here from the UK for a few days recently with their daughter Jane and her partner Jonathan. A short but wonderful visit!

Swellendam – On The Way To Everywhere

For the past few years Swellendam has been without an organised, co-ordinated tourism plan or strategy, and we appreciate what is being done by several hard working individuals in their efforts to keep the profile of the town and region visible and prominent.

The cover of the new ‘Swellendam Summer Guide – 2023’
Co-ordinated and financed by the Swellendam Municipality.
So good to have something for visitors to take away with them as they explore the town and region. We’re looking forward to the benefits from a wide distribution campaign.

Our self-catering guest cottage in the garden, shown above, is available for an overnight stay or longer.
Details and pictures on the ‘Accommodation Page’ Click Here

Summertime lunch with Andrew and James – Christina’s Bistro at van Loveren Family Vineyards, Robertson Western Cape.

The studio and gallery are open and working daily, and visitors are always welcome.
Please call ahead if travelling from afar, just to be sure that we will be here and available.

“Dedicate years to honing your craft, whatever that may be.
Creativity emerges through repetition. And whistling”

Hyme Rabinowitz

Spotted eagle owlets

With our very best wishes

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – March 2023


Mobile & WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 342 5453
E-mail: david@pottery.co.za

Please visit our Social Media pages:
Facebook Studio Page
Facebook – Bukkenburg Pottery
Facebook Accommodation Page
Facebook – David
Instagram

Chameleons are back in the garden in their numbers this year.

Summer 2022 at Bukkenburg

Season’s Greetings from Bukkenburg in Swellendam
Our Best wishes for 2023


Our interesting winter journey mentioned in the last newsletter has continued to provide ongoing interest and some drama into summer.

Malachite sunbird on a flowering Agapanthus.

The Swellendam Garden Expo and Open Gardens Weekend in early November was fantastic.

The organisation of the weekend was really superb and the event was so well supported by local residents and visitors to the town.  All gardens that were on the program and open reported a bigger than expected turnout.

Well done to all involved – organisers, those who presented workshops, The Gardener’s Market, and all the participating gardeners and their gardens.

We thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and we’re looking forward to all the preparations involved in getting our garden and studio ready for the open gardens next spring.

And also very importantly, as a fundraising effort, the weekend event raised a substantial sum for Swellendam SPCA.

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The ongoing nation-wide power cuts have intensified recently and are causing such havoc throughout the country – affecting even us in our small home studio in rural Western Cape.

As mentioned in an earlier post, we need at least 14 hours of uninterrupted power to run the three phase fan on either of our oil kilns and the increased frequency of power cuts since the end of November means that it is just not possible.

We have an electrician working on a system right now to run the fan from our backup electricity supply and free ourselves from the ongoing power cuts on the national grid.

It’s taking longer than we hoped and is further complicated by the difficulties of getting things done in the service industry during the end of year pressures.

Progress?

Here’s hoping that the kiln will be in operation again very soon.
We’ll begin with the restart of an interrupted firing from a few weeks ago when it had to be shut down due to a sudden increase in the frequency and duration of the power cuts.

The power situation in the country has become untenable and we’re having to resort to extreme and very expensive measures along with everyone else to try and remain afloat.

Streaky-headed seedeater (canary) enjoying new season sunflowers in the garden.

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There have also been disruptions in our fuel supply recently and it’s now very difficult getting paraffin locally. We have been using paraffin to fire the kilns since moving here in 1996.

Thanks to a suggestion from a friend on Facebook, we have been able to buy Jet A1 at the local flying club as an alternative; it is essentially paraffin with some additives.

Filling our cans with Jet A1 fuel at the airfield with Michael. That is Jacob Streicher filling the cans.

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Glazing and decorating continues in anticipation of the power supply to the kiln being sorted and several glaze firings to come.

As soon as things stabilise our outstanding commissions and orders will be fired and we will again have a refreshed display of new work in our gallery at the studio.

Thank you to all who are waiting for pots from us for your patience and understanding!

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Our most recent adventure appeared on the morning of Saturday 17 December when we went into the studio and found that it had been flooded during the big rain that had fallen overnight.

On further inspection we found that the brick wall between us and our neighbour had come down during the heavy rain and the water that came in behind it had washed through the studio leaving a deposit of fine silt throughout.

Thankfully there is no further damage to work in progress or the building, just a mess to clear up, which is almost done now, and re-building the wall in the new year.

The collapsed wall at the back of the studio.

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Swellendam – On The Way To Everywhere

For the past few years Swellendam has been without an organised, co-ordinated tourism plan or strategy, and we appreciate what is being done by several hard working individuals in their efforts to keep the profile of the town and region visible and prominent.

The Cottage

Our self-catering guest cottage, shown above, is available for an overnight stay or longer.
Details and pictures on the ‘Accommodation Page’ Click Here

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The studio and gallery will be open and working throughout the holidays and beyond, and visitors are always welcome.
Please call ahead if travelling from afar, we’re hoping for an occasional outing to the beach if time and weather allow.



“May you be surrounded by friends and family, and if this is not your lot, may the blessings find you in your solitude.”
~ Leonard Cohen ~

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With our very best wishes for the festive season and 2023

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – December 2022

Mobile & WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 342 5453
E-mail: david@pottery.co.za

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Please visit and ‘like’ our various Social Media pages:
Facebook Studio Page
Facebook – Bukkenburg Pottery
Facebook Accommodation Page
Facebook – David
Instagram

Spring 2022 at Bukkenburg

Hello and sunny spring greetings from us at Bukkenburg in Swellendam

How wonderful to feel the warmer weather now and enjoy longer days with the arrival of spring in the southern hemisphere.

We’re marking two notable milestones in October

And one upcoming event

We have been together for 50 years!

Our meandering journey / adventure / odyssey into clay and the art and craft of high fired studio pottery began within a few months of our getting together in October 1972.


We’re also marking 26 years in Swellendam.
We moved into the heritage house Bukkenburg on 1 October 1996, after many years in our home and studio in Johannesburg.

Bukkenburg

Winter into spring

It’s been a different and an interesting journey this past winter.

Felicity broke the fibula in her right leg in July about a week after we posted our last newsletter, and that had a profound impact on the rhythm of life and work.

We are so grateful for supportive friends and neighbours who helped us through this time.

We ran several short workshops in the studio during the winter while Felicity was ‘out of action’, and managed to cater a marvellous dinner for the Swellendam Music Society and their visiting artists with help of Carolyn from next door, Sue and Felicity’s son Andrew who was here for the weekend.

Occupancy in the cottage has been modest and steady.

Felicity’s recovery is reassuring and work in the studio is regaining some momentum – the rhythm of life and work slowly returns.

We have the house and some light studio equipment connected to a backup electricity supply and so now we are able to remain productive.

The studio and covered outside drying area are filling up with unfired pots, many orders and stock for our gallery for the summer.
We’re looking forward to getting busy with our spring firings as soon as possible.

As with so many all over the country, the ongoing nationwide power cuts have impacted our work in the studio.
In order to fire either of our two big oil fired kilns we need at least 14 hours of uninterrupted electricity.

We’re hopeful for a more steady supply of electricity soon, and if not, we we’ll have to consider an alternative solution, perhaps a generator to run the big three-phase fan that atomises the fuel as it enters the kiln.

Swellendam Garden Expo & Open Gardens
4 to 6 November

We have also been very busy preparing the garden for the Swellendam Open Gardens weekend in November.

Ours will be one of 18 gardens in and around Swellendam that will be open to visitors from 4 to 6 November.

In addition there will be a Gardener’s Market and a range of events.

For further information and bookings please visit the Swellendam Garden Expo.
Website: CLICK HERE
Also on Facebook; CLICK HERE

A few spring garden pictures

‘Swellendam – On The Way To Everywhere’

For the past few years Swellendam has been without an organised, co-ordinated tourism plan or strategy, and we appreciate what is being done by several hard working individuals in their efforts to keep the profile of the town and region visible and prominent.

Our self-catering guest cottage, shown above, is available for an overnight stay or longer.
Details and pictures on the ‘Accommodation Page’ Click Here

Overberg farmlands outside Swellendam in late September

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Wishing you all the best

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – October 2022

Mobile & WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 342 5453
E-mail: david@pottery.co.za

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Please visit and ‘like’ our various Social Media pages:
Facebook Studio Page
Facebook – Bukkenburg Pottery
Facebook Accommodation Page
Facebook – David
Instagram


Winter 2022 at Bukkenburg

Hello and warm winter greetings from Bukkenburg in Swellendam.

Porcelain bowl – wheel thrown, faceted, turned and tooled.
Copper glaze, reduction fired to 1320 degrees C in our oil kiln.


Overall mixed blessings this winter as the country emerges from more than 800 days of varying degrees of Covid-19 lockdown, and now ongoing nation-wide power cuts affecting everyone and everything.

Multi-layered drama in the social, political and economic world as well.

Fiscal shrike on a fencing dropper in the garden.

We are thankful to have been busy in the studio lately and there is commissioned work in hand to take us through to the spring.

Winter is usually quiet here in the Southern Cape, and as usual we are using the time to get through the outstanding ordered work and also to build up a new collection of work to have in the gallery for the coming spring and summer months.

Pippa in one of her unusual, usual spots

We require at least 14 hours of uninterrupted electricity supply to power the fan on our big oil kiln to complete a firing.

Stage 6 load shedding has just begun country wide. This means that the power will be cut for about 9 1/2 hours a day at different times until further notice.

The house and some light equipment in the studio are on a backup system so we can remain productive to a point.

We’re making use of these days of load-shedding to get this blog and some other tasks done, in addition to getting pots made for the next firings.

We sincerely hope that those who are waiting for their pots will not have to wait too much longer.

Here are some pictures of what we’ve been up to recently.

Swellendam is so well situated on the N2 national road, halfway between Cape Town and the Garden Route, and we are delighted to have become an essential stop for family, friends, and customers old and new as they make their way through this part of the country.

In addition to this, we are so grateful for the continued support from people in Swellendam and surrounds.

In the pictures below:
On the left – James with his cousins Sarie, Paul, Simone, and Juliette. From Cape Town and Germany.
On right – With an old school colleague Alan Whiteside from Norwich, UK reacquainting after 52 years!
Below – a lovely visit from our niece Alice and her husband Nate who live in London.

Some tools of the trade and a productive mess

‘Swellendam – On The Way To Everywhere’

For the past few years Swellendam has been without an organised, co-ordinated tourism plan or strategy, and we appreciate what is being done by several hard working individuals in their efforts to keep the profile of the town and region visible and prominent.

Ripening canola fields and the Langeberg Mountains – winter in the Swellendam District of the Overberg Region in the Western Cape.
Stoneware platter – 47cm diameter

The big kiln is loaded with pots for the first of two bisque firings, waiting now for the power grid to stabilise.

And these will be in the the next firing …


We will be sending out information in due course about upcoming events in which we will be involved as we approach spring and summer.
Just two for now:

  • Our Potter’s Lunch and Open Studio in September ?
  • Swellendam Open Gardens over the first weekend in November.


Workshops & Classes

With the recent removal of all Covid-19 regulations, we are going to be starting some workshops and teaching sessions.
Please have a look at the ‘Workshops Page’ : Click Here

We’re hoping that the pair of breeding Spotted Eagle Owls who have been nesting nearby for the past few years will be doing so again this winter and coming spring.

Our self-catering guest cottage shown above is available for an overnight stay or longer.
Details and pictures on the ‘Accommodation Page’ Click Here

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Wishing you all the best

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – June 2022

Mobile & WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 342 5453
E-mail: david@pottery.co.za


Please visit and ‘like’ our various Social Media pages:
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Winter 2021 at Bukkenburg in Swellendam

Winter in the Breede River Valley near Swellendam

Mid-winter greetings from Bukkenburg Pottery Studio in Swellendam

In this winter newsletter we will be showing some of our ongoing activities here in Swellendam including:

– New and ongoing work in the studio, completing outstanding orders and preparing fresh and exciting new pots, for display in our gallery in the coming spring.

– Upcoming valuation days with Strauss & Co, on 13 and 14 July.

– A link to the video of our slideshow with commentary on ClayChat, showing a photo record of our journey over the past 48 years.

Feedback on the launch of David’s brother John’s book ‘When They Came For Me – The Hidden Diary Of An Apartheid Prisoner’, including links to videos of the virtual launch and recent interviews.


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Cape Robin


Strauss & Co – Valuation Days in SWELLENDAM

This year’s Valuation Days will be a bit different to previous events in that Vanessa and Ian from Strauss & Co will take bookings to visit people at their homes to view the items that they would like valued.

Tuesday 13 & Wednesday 14 July

Booking is essential

Venue:
Bukkenburg Pottery Studio, Gallery & Guest Cottage
8 Hermanus Steyn Street, Swellendam

and at the homes of people who would like to have their items valued at home.

VALUATIONS:

To Book an Appointment:
Please phone Vanessa – 072 445 4717
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Cape Weaver
Stoneware bowl – wheel thrown, turned and faceted.
Copper red glaze. Reduction fired to 1 320 degrees C.

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A short while back we were invited by Rika Herbst to prepare a slideshow with commentary for ClayChat, covering our 48 years of working together.
A video of that slideshow is now at this link: CLICK HERE

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‘When They Came For Me –
The Hidden Diary Of An Apartheid Prisoner’

For those who missed the online launch and want to see some of it, and those who would like to see it again, here are the various YouTube links, and video links to other interviews with John about the book:

Video recording of the live streamed book launch event:
CLICK HERE

Video replay of the Daily Maverick Webinar: John Schlapobersky in conversation with Judge Dennis Davis:
CLICK HERE

Video of the interview with John Schlapobersky on ‘Die Groot Ontbyt’ on Kyknet:
CLICK HERE

Radio 702 Podcast – John Schlapobersky in conversation with Gushwell Brooks:
CLICK HERE

The book is now generally available and is published by Jonathan Ball Publishers in South Africa and Berghahn Books in the UK.
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So many chameleons in the garden this winter …

Accommodation at the Studio.

The Potter’s Cottage at Bukkenburg.

Our self-catering guest cottage, shown above, is available for an overnight stay or longer, pictures and details are on the Accommodation page of this website.
COVID-19 protocols are in place.
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Winter is a special season in our part of the world, with spectacular landscapes – mountains, farmlands, and so much more ..!

Fields of ripening Canola and winter wheat beneath the spectacular Langberg Mountains near Swellendam.
Wheel thrown stoneware jug – tenmoku double glaze with wax resist.

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Our social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram have become essential tools in our working and social lives.

Please visit and ‘like’ our Social Media links:
Facebook Studio Page
Facebook – Bukkenburg Pottery
Facebook Accommodation Page
Facebook – David
Instagram

We now have a new e-mail address: david@pottery.co.za
Please add it to your address books, the old one will be phased out over time.

Part of the salad buffet from an earlier Potter’s Lunch.

Our next ‘Potter’s Lunch and Open Studio’ is likely to take place towards the end of September – details will follow
The studio, gallery and garden are open and working daily, and visitors are welcome.
Please call ahead if travelling from afar, just to be sure that we’re here and available on the day.
COVID-19 protocols are in place.
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Wishing you all the best in good health and safety – please take care.

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – Swellendam
July – 2021

WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 342 5453
E-mail: david@pottery.co.za

Summer 2021 at Bukkenburg Pottery, Swellendam

New Year Greetings from Swellendam, and a warm welcome back to Bukkenburg Pottery Studio, Gallery & Guest Cottage at the beginning of what seems to be another very turbulent and worrying year ahead.

Once again we extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all who have supported our efforts over the last while; your continued support has helped us to sustain ourselves during these very trying times.

We are grateful for the commissioned work, large and small, which has so helped us work through these turbulent times, and also to those who visited the studio over the holiday season and bought something from us to take home with them.

This lovely pair of wheel-thrown stoneware planters are at their new home in Johannesburg.

Much of the past while has been spent working on a commission for very big indoor and outdoor planters.  The wet work, including some extras, is more or less done and as soon as we have the final finish and colour requirements from the client, the pots will be fired. 
We’ll also be firing the smaller commissions and orders that have come in, and also some new work for the gallery.

Overall, we are busy and productive with some ongoing work right here at home – a lot to be thankful for in these uncertain times ..!

It is alarming to hear that the rates of Covid-19 infection, hospitalization and death in our country are growing; and even in a small rural town like this, we are aware of and know people who are really suffering with the virus and some who have succumbed.

A second wave of the Coronavirus is causing such unbearable pain, suffering and hardship around the world, including our own country, and after a brief respite in ‘lockdown’ level 1 towards the end of last year, here, we are back to ‘lockdown’ level 3.

There are several local welfare and charity initiatives set up to help those who have fallen on harder times during the pandemic, providing food and comfort to those hardest hit, and the local population is always willing to spring into action when called on to help.

Local medical services are operating under increasing strain as the virus continues to spread in and around Swellendam.

This version of Level 3 ‘lockdown’ includes several severe measures which have had a devastating impact on the economy, agriculture, and an already struggling domestic travel industry over the summer.

Some of these measures and restrictions which were introduced at the beginning of the holiday season include the total closure of all beaches in our part of the world, a complete ban on all alcohol sales, night time curfew from 9.00 pm to 6.00 am, closure of land borders with neighbouring countries amongst others.

These measures and restrictions have had a specially devastating impact on the wine industry of the Western Cape, an industry that employs over 300 000 people and is central to the economy of the region.

The wine growing region in our part of the world is largely to the west of us and to the south, very close to Swellendam.

This article by winemaker Bruce Jack paints a very touching and disturbing picture of what is being faced:

CLICK HERE:
Bruce Jack on the devastating human and industry cost of Covid-19

Vineyards and the Breede River in summer near Bonnievale, Western Cape

By contrast, we hear that the grain famers of the Swellendam district have had a very good harvest, and things are looking promising for them, which will have a beneficial impact on the town.  We wrote about this in our September newsletter, before the harvest came in, and if you scroll down, you will find it there.

Wheat fields near Riviersonderend after the harvest.

In our immediate area we are seeing growing unemployment, poverty and misery all around us, and daily there are people ringing our door bell asking for something to do, a ‘piece job’, just to get something to eat.
Others desperately asking for a sandwich.

According to Statistics SA, more than 17 million South Africans, one in five, rely on social welfare grants from the state; and even in this small rural town there are unbelievably long queues of desperate people standing in line for their welfare grant payments on their designated days.


Our own strategy for now involves going out as seldom as possible with masks and hand sanitizer, and only for those things we really need; there are bottles of sanitizer around the house, gallery, studio, and cottage; washing hands etc etc, and most specially staying away from busy or crowded places if we can.

As expected, visitor numbers are significantly down on previous years, and the usual flow of foreign travelers to this part of the world seems to have almost dried up completely for now. 

It is doubtful that we’ll experience any real return of travellers to our region until there are enough vaccinated people who feel confident to travel again, and that seems to be a long way off.

The summer months have brought a slow, steady flow of visitors to the studio, and we have been fortunate to have also had several bookings in the cottage over the holiday season.

Accommodation at the Studio

Our guest cottage is available for an overnight stay or longer.

For further information please have a look at our accommodation page where there are pictures and a full description of what is available.

Please CLICK HERE

Spring / Summer 2020/21

And as the year begins to get underway, we are again experiencing ongoing nation-wide power cuts – called ‘load shedding’ here.
Sometimes two or even three 2 1/2 hour events a day.
Not easy dodging these cuts in electricity supply and still remaining productive and upbeat !

It’s harder now to imagine where the leadership will come from to help change direction here towards something more positive.
This article written by Marianne Merten in the Daily Maverick this week provides a sobering look at what the coming year might hold for this country:
CLICK HERE:

Sadly, due to the curfew this year, we were unable to take our stroll through town late on New Year’s Eve and make our by now traditional ‘Abbey Road Crossing’ over the main street.

Here’s a picture from last year’s walk:

Huge excitement during the summer when a pair of Spotted Eagle Owls hatched two eggs in a hollow in an oak tree right here in our neighbour’s garden.
Needless to say they provided the best photo opportunity imaginable. Here are some of the pictures of one of the adults and the two owlets:

Spotted Eagle Owl – one of the parents

We have found the available digital communications and media reassuring during the lock-down period, and like so many, we have been able to stay in touch with family, friends and customers around the country and the world.
Within the next month or so we will be hooked up to the internet with the newly installed fibre network in town and we’re looking forward to high-speed, trouble-free communications.
The paperwork is all done, and now we wait for the area to go ‘live’.

Our social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram have become essential tools in our working and social lives.

Please visit and ‘like’ our Social Media links:
Facebook Studio Page
Facebook – Bukkenburg Pottery
Facebook Accommodation Page
Facebook – David
Instagram

We have a new e-mail address: david@pottery.co.za
Please add it to your address books, the old one will be phased out over time.

The studio, gallery and garden are open and working daily, and visitors are welcome.
Please call ahead if travelling from afar, just to be sure that we’re here and available on the day.

Wishing you all the best in good health and safety as we begin the new year.

Please take care of yourselves and each other ..!

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – Swellendam
January – 2021

WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 342 5453
E-mail: david@pottery.co.za

Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Potter’s Lunch and Summer Open Studio

Please join us during our Summer Open Studio and Potter’s Lunch at Bukkenburg in Swellendam

Gosh, that was quick..!
The year has almost come to an end…

A slightly different program for this year – some dates to note if you’re gong to be in our part of the world during the coming summer months and over the holiday season, and are keen to stop in:

13 to 16 December – Swellendam Art Meander.
Open studios in and around Swellendam for three days.

Our studio will be open and working as part of the Swellendam Art Meander.

16 December – Potter’s Lunch
Our annual Buffet Lunch at Bukkenburg.
Lunch bookings are essential.
Tel: 082 342 5453


New work from several recent firings on show in the gallery and the garden is looking delightful this early summer.

Pin-tailed whydah in the pepper tree outside the studio.

Accommodation at the studio

With the holiday season fast approaching there is limited accommodation in our guest cottage.
Please call for availability and rates.
For further information and details about the cottage, including some pictures, please click – HERE

The studio and gallery will be open and working throughout the coming holiday season and beyond.

Visitors welcome…

Season’s Greetings and all the best for the new year..!


With best wishes
David and Felicity
December 2019

Bukkenburg Pottery Studio, Gallery & Guest Cottage
Swellendam
Tel: 082 342 5453
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Winter in Swellendam

Winter in the Southern Cape – flowering canola fields and the Langeberg Mountains near Swellendam.

Winter in Swellendam –

Some new work and the Swellendam Winter School.

It’s an ongoing busy winter in Swellendam, some of the big orders have been fired and shipped, and we also have some new work in the gallery.

Smaller orders and the rest of the bigger pots still to be fired before we can get on with work for the spring and coming summer.

Here are some of new pots:


More pictures of the new pots in a future post and ongoing on our Facebook and Instagram pages.


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Swellendam Winter School

The Swellendam Winter School began last month by running several 3-day and 5-day courses in various disciplines and activities for the three winter months, June to August.

We have held two well-attended 3-day weekend courses since the inception of the Winter School which we’ve called ‘Clay Explorations’ – one in June, the other in July, with a third planned for the weekend of 23 to 25 August.

For details and further info on our August ‘Clay Explorations’ Course including bookings and accommodation options please CLICK HERE

For further information about the Swellendam Winter School, the courses, bookings, accommodation options etc, please CLICK HERE

Here are a few pictures from the first two courses this winter:


We hope to broaden our offerings for next year’s Winter School with more advanced courses for experienced potters looking to enhance their skills.

We’re thinking of an advanced throwing course, and one focused on glazing and firing high temperature reduction-fired stoneware and porcelain.

Details will follow.

Our thanks and appreciation to all those involved in getting this initiative off the ground this winter – organizers, course facilitators and the participants who have come from far and wide.

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Accommodation at the studio

Our recently renovated and refurbished guest cottage is available on a self-catering basis for those wanting to stay over in Swellendam on their travels.

The cottage offers luxury accommodation comprising two en-suite, air-conditioned bedrooms, kitchen, lounge with wood burning fire, full DSTV package and outdoor veranda.

Please contact us for further details, availability and rates.
For pictures of the cottage please click HERE

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Please let us know if you would like to be included on our mailing list.
Our e-mail address: bukkenburg@sdm.dorea.co.za

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