On the meditative effects of pottery
Good Clay Sunshine – that's Vanessa and Ari, who run their own ceramic studio in Berlin-Neukölln. From the beginning, they have produced ceramics for our cabins around Berlin and Hamburg, and now the Raus x Good Clay Sunshine Edition is finally available in our shop. A souvenir that awakens the memory of your last stay amidst nature and breakfast on the terrace with a panoramic view of the untouched landscape.
In the interview, the two artists give insight into their creative process and explain why pottery has a meditative touch, how they deal with sustainability as a small, women-led brand, and how many hours of work are invested in the handmade ceramics until they finally make their way to our cabins.
Image by Natasha auf’m Kamp
Working creatively can bring you into the present moment. What do you think is the connection between pottery and mindfulness?
On the one hand, it’s your own creativity that puts you in this state, but also quite simply the work with your hands. Many people spend half their day in front of a screen, at work and even in their free time. Thoughts, processes, and social connections take place in a virtual space. When making pottery, you are with yourself and in contact with a natural material. Even without any tools, you can create something that may be a favorite piece in your home many years from now, or a gift for people you like.
Another aspect is, of course, the social exchange: you meet others, talk, get inspired. We have a small community of people who come back again and again to work together with us. Everyone talks about the relaxing, even meditative effect that working with clay brings. Of course, it's work, but we are very grateful for this wonderful activity that always grounds us.
How much work, time, and passion go into this handcraft?
The manufacturing process of handmade ceramics consists of many steps. After turning on the wheel or shaping by hand, the pieces need to dry for several days before they can be fired for the first time. Then they are glazed and need to dry again. After another two days, we can open the kiln following the glaze firing and receive the finished pieces.
Are there moments, events or experiences that inspire you in particular? What goes through your mind when shaping the objects?
That varies from day to day. Some days, all thoughts evaporate after just a few minutes of concentrated work. You get to focus on the actual task so that the head finally takes a break. But working with clay can just as easily amplify thoughts, sort them out, make them louder, turn them around. You finally have time to think undisturbed.
Image by Natasha auf’m Kamp
What was the creative idea and process behind the Raus x Good Clay Sunshine ceramics?
It all started with feedback from guests who repeatedly reported that their stay in the cabins were an inspiring experience for them. Apparently, our ceramics played a role in this, too, probably because it is something special to be in the middle of nature and to be surrounded by beautiful things. It's also about memories, like enjoying your morning coffee with a special cup in your hand while maybe looking out the window. We believe that people like to preserve this feeling and want to take something of it home with them. Both you and we have received inquiries about where to buy the Raus x Good Clay Sunshine ceramics. When it came to planning the Raus Shop, we together composed a selection of pieces as found in the cabins.
By the way, staying in a Raus cabin also seems to inspire people to try pottery themselves. Many of the participants in our courses are Raus guests.
Image by Natasha auf’m Kamp
In the production of your ceramics, you rely on sustainable processes such as using eco-friendly electricity, recycling materials, and using sustainable packaging. Why is this important to you, and how did you come up with the idea?
While ceramics have a long lifespan, the energy input to produce them is extremely high, so for us, only 100% green electricity is an option. We reuse the leftover clay, glaze, and packaging, and integrate them back into our own production cycle – we try to work in symbiosis with the environment, rather than just taking away from it.
What are the advantages you see in running a small, local, and sustainable business?
A big advantage is definitely being independent: We don't have to bend or produce things we don't stand behind. It's great to create exactly what makes sense with customers and partners.
You've already mentioned it: You offer pottery courses in your studio in Berlin-Neukölln. What do you enjoy most about passing on your knowledge? Are there any takeaways for participants from the experience of sitting at the potter's wheel themselves for a few hours?
Some of our courses are more extensive and some are just for getting a taste of it. For many, it is actually a great fascination to sit at the potter's wheel for once. Most people want to build on their first course and participate in our flexible studio, where you can use the entire place and all materials for a few hours. There are also handbuilding courses where you can learn different practices such as shaping techniques, where you can use plaster or wooden molds. As a beginner, you definitely get a very good impression of the material, how it feels, how it works. Or you can work on a special project: From a small, colorful ceramic mushroom to a large serving plate for a planned dinner with friends, we have already figured out a few things together with the participants. Handbuilding is also suitable for larger groups of ten people, who are looking for something special for their team event. You have already visited our studio with a small team. What we also love is to host events from children's birthdays to bachelor parties.
Are there any particular objects that are among the favorite pieces of your customers? What should not be missing in any cupboard?
Actually, these are the objects that you can also find in your shop. A small, flat bowl that can be used for everything from muesli to pasta, and a mini bowl. It's not only for the cupboard, but also on the bedside table for rings or other jewelry that you take off before going to bed.