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Spotlight on Dor & Tan

Speaking to the Cornwall based ceramics studio

Together Sharron, Peter, Matthew, and Viola make up the ceramics studio Dor & Tan. With a mutual desire to break away from disposability, Dor & Tan is inspired by a vision to create objects in a meaningful and sustainable way. Located on the idyllic Cornish Coast, the studio is committed to creating individually handcrafted items that are filled with the character and spirit of the environment. Their hope is that each of these items will bring warmth and joy to the simple moments of daily life.

Can you share a little bit about the story behind Dor & Tan?

The story of Dor & Tan begins with a desire to break away from the disposability of modern life and to create objects with a more personal connection. We want our items to become cherished memories, that favourite cup you always pick when boiling the kettle, the soup bowl you reach for after being caught in the rain. We want to bring handcrafted items to people, that have a unique soft character which cannot be created any other way than by the hand of a maker.

What would you say are some of the unifying themes and subjects you are interested in exploring through your work?

Our inspiration is anything and everything that is meaningful to all of us at the studio – minimal architecture, landscapes, wild plants, Japanese and Korean pottery, modern and classic design. We of course take a lot of our influence from the environment as it affects the way we think and live. The list goes on and on, infinitely grasping at anything that excites us, pulling it in to pick apart.

Can you share a little bit about the process behind your craft, and what it takes to create such considered pieces?

Pottery is a slow process and is really dictated by the clay. Every piece we make has several processes involved with only a relatively small time window in which to do it before the clay becomes too dry. From a ball of wet clay to glazed vessel takes roughly 10 days, in which time we alternate between: clay prep, throwing, turning, firing, and glazing.

Our process is slow and thoughtful, with abundant amounts of testing. Designing pieces to be just right means knowing the limits of your clay and finding glazes that feel harmonious with each piece.

What is it like living and working in St Ives?

Our studio is now based in rural Hayle as we outgrew our St Ives one. But all of us agree it has made our working lives a lot, lot easier with more room to wiggle our toes. Also, the extra space has made it possible to open our very own shop space. But, all four of us still live in St Ives which is still utterly breathtaking even after the many years of living here.

How does Cornwall inspire your work?

Cornwall permeates our work at every stage. Whether it’s marine architecture found in St Ives harbour, or the colour pallet of our favourite coastal walks. We like to take these mental or literal swatches and condense it down to its purest form, which is why a lot of our work ends up minimal in form and glaze.

How do you hope your ceramics make people feel?

Warmth more than anything, something that stands out and refreshes people from manufactured monotony. We believe handmade work has that all important human touch and intentional inconsistency that creates a more personal connection.

Can you talk a little bit about your passion for sustainability and how this informs what you do?

To us sustainability is a modern day necessity. Plastics, CO2 consumption and one-use items are running rampant and we want to change this. We source our clay and packaging locally, so we can have a smaller carbon footprint with our deliveries. Also, our kilns and electric potting wheels run on green energy too.

What would be your top recommendations on places to visit/things to do whilst in St Ives/Cornwall?

We all have a special soft spot for the coastal walk around St. Ives and Gwithian. But if you’re not up for a walk the Tate St Ives is a must visit, especially with its new extension. Picking your own strawberries (and countless other fruit and veg) at Trevaskis farm is amazing on sunny days. Zennor’s only pub, The Tinners Arms, has a beautiful beer garden and is a lovely sun trap too. Trengwainton garden is also immensely beautiful especially in the Spring as they have a huge camellia collection.