Paul Melser is a bit of a weapon. He is an established potter and artist. He hosts and writes quite an in-depth, mainly art-based blog. The wood he uses in his kiln comes from a pine forest on his property that he planted himself, which he cuts himself and stores for two years before burning. He processes his own clay. His property is host to a showroom for customers, sheep and village cricket games. And he’s a pretty nice guy.
Watching him throw is quite meditative, he does it with such ease and skill. A wet lump of clay takes on a life in his hands and grows gracefully into a simple an beautiful bowl, jug or cup. If you’re ever in the Wairarapa pay him a visit, otherwise content yourself with these photos and some info he’s shared:
Do you use a really good hand cream?
No, none at all. Fortunately my hands seem to be able to handle getting dried out by clay constantly
What’s your favourite native tree?
That seems to change every few years. But my favourites tend to be the trees that are endemic to this area. I’ve planted more totaras than anything else because they are so robust in our windy climate and they also provide a huge amount of food for birds. Kanuka is the second most dominant. But there are also a few vestiges of Titoki growing in the area and for pure pleasure in what it looks like, Titoki probably takes first prize.
Tell me about the village cricket games…
Cricket started on this property accidently about 35 years ago because the pitch that had been arranged became unavailable. Since then we have played about a dozen games every year against a huge variety of local and outside teams. Over those 35 years probably more than a thousand players have wielded a bat or ball on the “Bottom Paddock” pitch.
Do you know how potholes got their name?
Hahahaha, no I didn’t but looked it up and agreed with the commentator who said it was very unlikely that it stemmed from potters pinching clay from Roman roads. For a start the Romans would not have made roads from the clay that a potter could use since it would very quickly become a sloppy mess and secondly that material using stone and limestone would be impossible to make pots from. Limestone and potters clay are deadly enemies
What advice would you give someone who is interested in getting into pottery?
Don’t unless you are totally committed. It takes a long time and practice to understand the materials and processes
Are there any ceramicists you admire?
Yeah lots, many of them are anonymous artisans from China and Japan.
What’s the best part about living in the Carterton district?
The area we live in is pretty wild and raw – exemplified by the totaras and kanukas that grow here. It’s pretty nice too to be able to drive into town and not have to worry about parking or traffic jams.
What is important in any piece of dinnerware?
Simplicity, functionality and durability