Funky Furnace

I am proud of my ability on the wheel and aware that so few people can still make pots like this

Almer Windvogel is an independent craft potter. All his work is hand thrown, decorated and glaze stoneware fired to 1180°C. His range of work includes stoneware domestic ware and a range of birdfeeders and small water features.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your work?

To finish the day and see what I have made with my own hands. It makes me sleep easy!

Why did you choose to be an independent potter?

When the pottery I worked for closed down I had to make a new career decision. I could not see myself being happy doing anything different, so I took the plunge and decided to go it alone!

How many years has it taken you to acquire the skill of making hand thrown pots?

I started throwing pots in about 1980. They say it takes 7 years to become a potter.

You have an ancient skill, that of throwing pots on the potter’s wheel. How does that feel?

I am proud of my ability on the wheel and aware that so few people can still make pots like this. It saddens me that this may well become a lost art and that others will not feel the joy of throwing a pot..

In the Old Nick Village context, what makes your place special?

My ‘shop’ is not upmarket, in fact it is not much more than a dusty shed but I am  responsible for every aspect of creating a useful item, from a lump of clay up until a customer walks away with it in a bag. That’s unusual and special!

Funky Furnace pottery at Old Nick VillageWhat is the greatest challenge for an independent potter in the modern economy?

I get so involved in the part I love the most, the production process, that I tend to neglect the promotional aspect.

Where do you get your ideas?

I research the current trends but generally try not to place myself in competition with cheap imports. I listen to the customer’s needs and this inspires me to try new ideas.

Who are your customers?

Generally my work sells to people who have an appreciation for the craft of the potter and need specific things that are not available elsewhere.

And your most popular item?

Birdfeeders! They are well designed and complicated to make but they will hang in the garden without deteriorating for years and encourage small birds into the garden. That’s why people love them.

What do you enjoy making the most?

Bowls with a turned foot are my speciality. I love the challenge of creating a flow inside the bowl, mirrored by the outer shape standing delicately  on an outer rim.

Do you teach?

There is an ongoing demand for lessons so I am planning to start next year. I share a kiln with another potter and we run a firing service.

Anything new on the horizon?

Lots more pots, getting better and better with an increasingly satisfied clientele.