common goods studio
"Hi, we’re Esme and Fan, co-founders of Common Goods studio. After graduating from OCAD University as a graphic designer (Esme) and from University of Toronto as a forest conservationist (Fan) in 2017, we decided to spend some time in China, visiting family members, and travelling to different areas within the country. We both moved to Canada at a young age and never really got a chance to learn about our own culture in-depth. One of the cities on our list was Jingdezhen.
This Chinese city is known for its historic significance in the pottery industry. We thought it’d be fun to push ourselves to learn a new skill. We found an artist with a portfolio we liked and persuaded him to let us apprentice in his studio!
The first few days were spent exclusively on spiral wedging clay, the few days after that, on centring huge humps of clay on wheel. Our teacher would say very little, do a quick demonstration with no verbal explanation, and when he was asked “when can we move on to the next step” he would simply say “you’ll know when the time comes, you will feel it”. He encouraged us to take breaks, to practice only when we can be fully immersive in the task at hand, to throw with all our senses; with our minds, not just our hands. His method of teaching could be quite confusing at times, but we eventually learned that the awareness that raises from within oneself is better than a thousand lectures. The techniques we retained through trial and error were what works the best for us.
The city was filled with artists specializing in all stages of pottery production; some only throw, some trim, some decorate, and some fire the kiln. Inspirations and learning opportunities were everywhere. In a sense, our time in Jingdezhen was not only a learning experience, but also a spiritual one. We not only learned the traditional wheel throwing techniques, but also that pottery is not just a trade but a gateway to a more mindful lifestyle.
After returning to Toronto, we decided to set-up a home studio and practice pottery part-time. A year later, we realized pottery is our true calling, and decided to both pursue Common Goods full time. We now create wheel-thrown functional and decorative handmade ceramic pieces in our home studio in small batches. Inspired by the slow-living lifestyle, our goal is to help others learn to slow down and savour small moments through using well-crafted objects that compliment nature, engage one’s senses, and encourage rituals in everyday life.
We currently work and live in Markham, Ontario with our rescued senior cat - Stretchy. One of our favourite things to do is to forage wild plants and arrange them artfully in our flower vases." – Esme & Fan
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