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2020 AGM & welcome to the new committee!

It’s been a busy few weeks at WPA with the annual anagama coinciding with our AGM and the end of our membership year.

Thanks to everyone who came out and attended our AGM & mystery pot swap on 6 September!

It was great to farewell the outgoing committee, particularly Kate Ford who has stepped down from the secretary role after 9 years of service.  Thank you Kate!!

We also elected a new committee for the 2020-2021 year!  Unfortunately with all the activity we failed to get a group photo but welcome to the new members and hello again to those who have been re-elected.

2020/2021 WPA Committee officers

President: Nicole Gaston

Vice-President: Elaine Marland

Secretary: Anna Castelle

Treasurer: Sophie Hathaway

Elected committee members:

Steve Moate

Karla Marie

Judith Belin

Peter Rumble

Martin Henty

James Dickman


We also have 2 very keen co-opted members who were officially voted in at our first committee meeting last week:

Tamyra Matthews

Gordon Sinclair


Many thanks to all these people for volunteering their time to help run our association.


Annual return


Thanks to Steve Moate, Sophie Hathaway and Nicole Gaston for producing this very flash annual return for the Charities Commission.  The report will be available soon to the public on the Charities Comission website but in the meantime you can read it below.

Wellington Potters Annual return 2019-2020 (pdf, 370KB)


Mystery pot swap

Here are a few photos from the pot swap for you to enjoy – and get excited for next year!

Elaine managing the pot swap like a pro!
Elaine managing the pot swap like a pro!
Elaine handling Martin Henty his mystery pot
Elaine handling Martin Henty his mystery pot
Hedy adoring her Tim Hawley pot, complete with plant!
Hedy adoring her Tim Hawley pot, complete with plant!
Mary receiving her mystery pot
Mary receiving her mystery pot
Nicole was very happy to snag an Elaine Marland original!
Nicole was very happy to snag an Elaine Marland original!

Covid-19 Level 2 update 12 August 2020

Kia ora members,

You will know that we have moved to COVID-19 Level 2 alert as of midday today.

What does this mean for those wanting to use the rooms?


  • Please use physical distancing (1 metre) at the rooms.
  • Be sure to sign in and out of the diary, use good handwashing and shared tool hygiene.
  • People who are at risk should not use the rooms.
  • Anyone going to the rooms and finding it busy is encouraged to leave – you can ring the rooms at  04 473 3680 to check how busy it is before coming.

We are operating on this basis until Friday when things are clarified. We will look at reinstating the booking system if Level 2 is ongoing.

For now, CEC courses are still going ahead as usual.

We presume that if we are still at level 2 for the weekend the cleaning bee will be cancelled, however please keep an eye out for further updates.



WPA Committee

Anagama: notes from the Q & A held on Friday 24 July

Dates to diarise:

Receiving Day: Sunday 23 August
Loading: Monday 24 – Sunday 30 August
Firing: Wednesday 2 – Sunday 6 September
Unloading and Barbecue: Sunday 13 September

Suitable clays

Something of a joke was made by the presenters repeatedly saying that only Cone 10 clays should be used. But it’s not a joke if you don’t use the correct clay. The anagama environment will likely melt the wrong clays causing damage to shelves, props and other people’s pots (besides wrecking your own). If your bag of clay states a top firing temperature of 1280, that is sufficient. If the bag doesn’t identify the top firing temperature either seek professional advice to identify that or don’t use it. No ‘near enoughs’ please; e.g. 1260 is not acceptable. Definitely do not use Club Recycled.

The anagama philosophy

Present a pot(s) you consider worthy of an operation that has taken literally thousands of hours to plan, build, maintain and fire over the past 15 years, that uses five busloads of wood each firing and presents subtleties of glaze no electric firing could achieve. Members who assist with the many tasks required to fire this kiln – particularly those who participate in the firing – agree that they appreciate the results from the kiln so much more having been involved in its firing.

Which pots suit anagama?

Any features on thrown or hand-built pots that catch or channel the build-up of ash glaze. Coarse texture returns dividends. The addition of sprigs and faceting are both useful and carving can accent glaze ‘breaks’. Fine (i.e. not very deep) carving may disappear so be bold. However, there’s nothing wrong with firing your best unadorned cups or simply-made porcelain vase.

Be aware though that porcelain my warp or slump slightly if it’s very thin-walled. Heavily iron-rich clays may be inclined to produce uninteresting results depending on the nature of the firing but the judicious use of slips over (not necessarily all over) these clays can be rewarding.

What about the use of underglazes and slips?

Underglazes burn out. Don’t bother. But slips coloured with cobalt and iron oxides (not necessarily together!!) – search Google images for Anneke Borren anagama pots for inspiration. Avoid copper-based washes and slips; copper volatises in the anagama environment and lurches about the kiln settling randomly, uninvited, on other people’s pots.

Preparation of your pots destined for the anagama firing:

  1. It/they must have been bisqued to be accepted on Receiving Day. Greenware is a sod to transport and, even if it got there, could explode in the kiln. Many anagama kilns do load greenware BUT for the sake of looking after many pots by many different potters, BISQUED is the safest bet.
  2. Don’t wax the bases. The anagama process is different. There is a natural run of glaze so all pots are raised above the shelf surface with wadding. This is designed to prevent pots sticking to the shelves. Wax will not allow a good adherence of pot to wadding.
  3. ONLY use the 3 or 4 anagama glazes provided. Club glazes are prohibited as are any of your own concoctions. Please note: the anagama glazes will not be available for use on Receiving Day. Last year we had trouble with handling wet glaze pots. Plan ahead.
  4. It is of great help to the loaders (and gives you a better chance of getting at least some of your pots into the firing) when you have your potters’ mark legibly stamped/written/incised on your pot(s).
  5. Please read and absorb the information about how to proceed on Receiving Day. This will be available on the WPA website and on posters in the main studio two weeks prior to Receiving Day. Understanding the difference, for example, between a lead pencil and a ceramic pencil – and where they should be applied – could save you some embarrassment! The bumptious person who brusquely waved away the politely offered advice from a helper last year must still be ruing the fact that her nine pots are all visibly numbered 1 to 9 on the outside surface of her darlings.

What pots can I enter?

As long as the clay is Cone 10 capable you can submit whatever you like….just be aware- large pots, broad plates and platters, ungainly shapes, very tall pots are less likely to make it into the kiln. Lots of very tiny stuff (e.g. jewellery) – whilst these can be useful to pop into gaps here and there, don’t get too enthusiastic with the number you submit. Each and every piece has to be wadded; the loaders are angels….but they’re not saints!!

How many pots can I submit?

As many as you care to pay for BUT not all may get into the firing. Be aware that anagama loading/stacking is quite different from loading a glaze firing in an electric kiln. Anagama loaders look for balance throughout the kiln and pay particular attention to the way the flames will flow. Pots are selected on that basis. Everyone will get at least one pot in the firing (subject to the size and shape note in the previous paragraph). That said, the fees you paid will be refunded for any unfired pots.

Preferred placement

Simple requests such as “near firebox” and “at the back” will be accommodated where possible. More specific expectations such as “altogether on shelf 4, stack 3” you can forget. Loaders select and place entirely on the basis of what they consider will suit The Plan. Anyway, anagama results tend to fluctuate firing by firing. Be happy with the result you get.

Other preferences

Sometimes the loading plan will call for pots to be stacked one-inside-the-other (of course, we NEVER stack pots that are glazed inside!). Sometimes just wadding is used, sometimes sea-shells. These will leave ‘wadding marks’ or shell imprints on the inside of your pots. Such marks are often prized for the glaze/flame/indentation effects they produce. BUT, if you don’t want any of that, you may state that on your submission form. Be aware, though, that this may well restrict the number of pots you will have fired.

Other points

To glaze or not to glaze? If I don’t glaze prior to the firing, where does the glaze come from then? The burning of wood produces ash. Ash settling on pots, through the management of the firing, melts and turns to glaze. This happens several times during the firing. Many factors determine how much – or if any – glaze develops on your pots and how much forms where. Even if your pot emerges from the kiln showing no signs of natural ash glaze, you can be sure your pot is vitrified! Peak temperatures in our anagama kiln are between 1280 and 1320 and, combined with the 100 hours firing you can be sure that the heat-work level is significant!

It is a matter of preference whether or not you pre-glaze. If you do, please:

  1. Leave at least a 5mm (10mm for bigger pots) clear margin at the base (sponge/wipe off…remember; don’t wax)
  2. Don’t go nuts with the application. Thicker doesn’t necessarily mean a better result; in fact, often the contrary.

Insides of vessels with narrow necks (e.g. vases) and lidded items (e.g. teapots). As a precaution it is recommended that you pre-glaze the insides to ensure a glossy surface as fly-ash is unlikely to penetrate to the interior.


WPA rooms now open – bookings required

Keeping ourselves safe

  • If you feel at all unwell or have any of the signs of COVID-19 do not come to the rooms.
  • Members over 60: you are no more potentially contagious than other age groups. You are welcome to use the rooms but please exercise extra caution for your own sakes.
  • No children, no guests, no visitors
  • You may not enter the rooms without first booking through the online system.  You must book separately for throwing, handbuilding, glazing or to drop-off or pick-up pots or clear your cubby.

Online booking system

To book:

  1. Access the booking system (link below)
  2. Select the day/days you wish to visit the rooms
  3. Scroll down to the timeslot you require
  4. Select the activity you want
  5. Press the ‘Book’ button

More about booking

  • The booking system has been devised in the hope that it gives members sufficient creative time as well as providing the opportunity for all those who wish to, to enjoy the facilities again, in a hygienic and safely physically distanced manner.
  • Ensure that Vera Burton (Membership Coordinator) has your most recent contact details so you can be contacted if required – Veeanddave93@gmail.com.
  • As you will see from the booking schedule, visits to the rooms (once booked) may be made from Monday 18th May.

Restrictions and Rules – Using the rooms

General conditions of entry

  • Ensure you have a valid booking and your contact details are up to date with the membership coordinator (see above).
  • Thorough handwashing and/or the use of the hand sanitiser, particularly on entry, and regularly throughout your stay, is a requirement for all whilst at the rooms.
  • Main door should be closed [but not locked] whilst people are on the premises to ensure the terms of entry notice outside the door is observed. If fresh air is required, partially open the alleyway door.
  • Kitchen is off limits – BYO beverages and cup. Take cup/beverage container home after each visit! Use the sluice room taps for drinking water.
  • No sharing of food.
  • Library is also off limits.

Safe physical distancing and hygiene under Level 2

  • Daily users to set up their own cleaning roster for each time slot.
  • Cleaning supplies provided.
  • Cleaning list (see below) to be ticked off at the start of each 4 hourly session.
  • Cleaning (i.e. Disinfecting) time is incorporated in the 4-hour shift plan accordingly.
  • The main studio and the glaze room should be vacated promptly at the end of each session. If no-one waiting to enter, turn off all lights and lock the door after you. Check that side (alleyway) door is also locked and bolted.
  • The table nearest the cubbies is only for resting possessions during take out and put back or for processing pots ready for firing. Maximum of 2 at a time at this table.

Main studio cleaning list

  • Taps and door handles [includes damp cabinet handles, slab roller wheel)
  • Basins & surrounds
  • Telephone
  • Social table
  • Ladders (grip areas) and other common surfaces
  • Light switches, drying cabinet handle, switch and dials
  • Heaters: clean the push-button switch and surrounds
  • Common use tools – use them, wash them, sterilise them (use the disinfectant bath) put them back. Also see ‘Glaze room’ notes

More about room restrictions – Main studio

  • Maximum number working in the Main Studio is 18: up to 9 hand builders; up to 9 wheel exponents. Hand builders restricted to the west ends and centres of each of the 3 large tables; wheel people restricted to the east end of each of the large tables + the ‘blue’ table.
  • Don’t move the wheels from their positions. Don’t introduce extra wheels. Don’t move tables.
  • Space has been allocated so that 1) the extruder can be used safely 2) the wedging batts can be used safely
  • The Slab Roller has been re-positioned to allow for adequate bypass corridors.
  • Main studio bookings can be made for: 4 hour “shifts”: 9am – 1pm, 1pm – 5pm, 5pm – 9pm, 9pm – 1am and an 8-hour shift, 1am – 9am online bookings only.
  • It is likely that the 9am – 1 pm shift will be in great demand. To be fair to all, you may book only TWO of this shift per week. This stipulation will be revisited once a better idea of demand is understood.
  • To allow for commercial cleaning, the Monday 9pm until 1am shift will not be bookable
  • Mondays – Fridays: Members restricted to a maximum of 3 x 4 hour shifts or 2 x 8-hour shifts per ‘working week’ any weekday booking precludes that member from the use of the rooms during weekends.
  • Saturdays and Sundays: Maximum of 2 X 4 hour shifts or 1 X 8-hour shift (1am – 9am)
  • Bookings can only be made for up to two weeks in advance. We’re trying to give everyone a chance at the “plum spots”.
  • Drop-off pots, pick-up pots, clear your cubby: If you wish to do this between the hours of 8am – 10pm you will need to book one of the 30-minute slots online. Maximum of 2 people per timeslot.
  • Bringing in pots from home or own studio for bisque firing: Have them packed in a sturdy container or containers and bring them up to the Main Studio to process.
  • Pots from the drying shelves for bisque firing: Weigh, pay, record, attach your Firing Slip and leave on or under the table. If you can pack into the cartons provided please do so. Each day a volunteer will transport your pots to the kiln room.

Weighing and paying – now upstairs

  • The scales, eftpos machine and Payments Record Book will be temporarily sited in the Main Studio. Hand sanitiser is provided for use before/after using machine.
  • Cleaning the Keypad: Do not spray the keypad. Use DETTOL provided – Spray the cloth, wipe the keypad; same for the pen.
  • Pick-up pots from the kiln room: maximum of 1 member at a time
  • If the kiln room door is open and the chain is in place wait for the person inside to exit. When you leave, lock the door, leave the chain hanging loose.

Restrictions – Kiln and glaze rooms

  • Handwashing or use of the hand sanitiser required on entry.
  • Glaze tools, bucket lids and handles and all surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned before and after use. Spray ‘n’ wipe.
  • Glaze room: Maximum of 2 members at a time. Mondays – Fridays: Members restricted to a maximum of 2 X 2 hour shifts (may be consecutive) or 2 X 8-hour (i.e. The midnight to 8am shift) shifts per ‘working week’. Any weekday booking precludes the use of the glaze room during weekends. N.B. This does not apply to the Glaze Making Team. Their bookings will take precedence.
  • Saturdays and Sundays: Maximum of 2 x 2 hour shifts (may be consecutive) or 1 X 8-hour (midnight – 8am) shift.

Be kind to others

  • Access https://bookeo.com/wellingtonpotters to book
  • If there are un-booked places 1 hour prior to the start of a period you may book even if you have either (a) already made other bookings or (b) already used your quota for the week.
  • If you are unable to use a booking, please cancel it by emailing rooms@wellingtonpotters.org.nz.
  • No shows will be restricted from making further bookings.
  • Bookings that don’t comply with limitations will be declined.
  • Those who are able to come in during the week please do so to allow those back at work to be able to come in during the weekend.
  • Restrictions are likely to be adjusted as demand for use becomes clearer
  • Your co-operation is appreciated. We hope you enjoy being “back in the mud”!

Update: COVID-19 level 2 reopening plans underway

Kia ora members!  We’ve missed you!

WPA will be reopening in a limited capacity to members under Covid-19 Level 2 restrictions with safety measures in place.  We are working on the details now and awaiting confirmation from WCC we are ok to reopen – further announcements will be available soon!

slabs of clay
You’ll be able to get back to your clay work soon!


UPDATE: WPA rooms are closed until further notice

Update as of Monday 2:30pm 23 March 2020

The WPA rooms are closed until further notice.

Picking up of essential belongings: you may retrieve these ONLY between the hours of 10am and 12pm tomorrow (Tuesday 24 March). No other arrangements will be possible.

No clay sales. No dropping off ‘to be fired’ items.

One person allowed on the premises at a time. Thorough hand washing on arrival is vital. Preferably come wearing a mask and latex gloves. A limited number will be available so you may kit up outside of the premises.

Time allotment per person on the premises 5 minutes (includes hand wash time) Please prepare yourself for a swift turnaround.

If you have any WPA concerns, please contact a Committee member.

Kia kaha!

WPA Committee

COVID19 – WPA’S response and directives to members

There will be official emailed bulletins from WPA as matters progress. These are issued on behalf of the Committee from the email address veeanddave93@gmail.com.  

Please make a point of reading them. Neither party wants the embarrassment of being turned away from the rooms but you WILL be told to leave immediately if you arrive sick. Please, stay home if you have a cold or flu-like symptoms. Seek professional advice.

Even if you don’t show any of these symptoms but have recently returned from abroad absolutely keep away from the rooms if you have not yet completed the recommended full period of self isolation. Now that a LEVEL 2 has been declared it is important that those with compromised immune systems, who have had recent hospital treatment/operations and who are aged or frail to seriously consider not visiting the rooms at least until the alert level reverts to a LEVEL 1…or hopefully to an “all clear”. 

For now, CEC classes, the Tuesday Club, Kiln Loading Classes and Friday Family Night will continue (with appropriate physical distancing and/or masks and gloves) BUT be prepared for these to be cancelled at a moment’s notice.

If a LEVEL 3 Alert is broadcast, the rooms will be closed. An email notice will advise this.

If children are too sick to go to school they are too sick to come to the studio. 

Visitors: We ask that you refrain from bringing visitors to the rooms for the time being. If unaccompanied visitors arrive when you are at the rooms politely request them to leave and encourage them to make contact with the Secretary by ‘phone or email. (Hand them a newsletter which contains the relevant contacts).

There is a large poster displayed at the front door of the main studio (and smaller ones regarding entry requirements – prevention techniques and signing in) inside the main studio and in the kiln and glaze room entrances). Read, heed and encourage others to follow the simple rules. Literally, your life may depend on it!

As a precautionary measure the main studio layout has been adjusted so that there is an increased distance between wheels and at the social tables. Please don’t shuffle them back together! There is plenty of liquid soap in the dispensers and we have doubled our supply of paper towels to enable the proper drying of hands. (BTW, your hands extend right up to your wrists!) Make good use of the towels but don’t use them for other purposes!!! 

Tissue stations, with rubbish bags for used tissues, have been placed about the building. Make full use of them but DON’T move them from their positions. 

Wellington Potters’ Association Open Day 2020

open day flyer

As part of the Fired Up Festival of Ceramics, WPA will be holding an Open Day at the Rooms:


    Saturday 7 March, 10am – 3pm


We have heaps of great activities lined up, including:

  • 15 different ceramic artists exhibiting work for sale
  • demonstrations of throwing, hand-building and sculpture by our members
  • tours of the building
  • pottery activities for kids and adults to try
  • tea, coffee and food
  • A huge selection of WPA “keep cups” specially made for the Open Day, available to buy
  • And more!
Handmade ceramic keep cup
Some of the keep cups that will be on sale

We look forward to seeing you on the 7th!




Maintenance Blitz – 15th and 16th February

Come along any time between 10am and 4pm.

Jobs List: indicating expertise required and approximate duration (based on 1 person’s input)

  1. Remount exhibition and wheel throwing guides posters (ladder confident; pinning, good eye
    for style compatibility and spacing) 1.5 hours
  2. Garage: remove lectern and demolish; extract timber from racks; tidy, sweep/vacuum 1.5
  3. Build simple rack/shelving inside-right “mezzanine” of garage to house paint/painting gear
    2.5 – 3 hrs
  4. Move glaze room chemical cupboards to garage (strength) 30 mins
  5. Disassemble/cut up former glaze buckets iron shelving in glaze room (may require angle
    grinder [WPA has one] – for competent users only!) 1 hour
  6. Disassemble former damp cabinets (anyone good, but careful, at smashing stuff) 1 hour
  7. Resize and assemble glaze room cubbies (simple carpentry skills) 6 – 8 hours
  8. Rebuild shelves above wax pans (simple carpentry skills) 3 hours
  9. Replace and level hardboard cover underneath wax pans (simple carpentry skills) 1 hour
  10. Install shelves in glaze room toilet area (simple carpentry skills) 3.5 hours
  11. Tidy rear of building (stack bricks, tidy wood, repair seat) 30 mins, 30 mins, 1 hour
  12. Cut, re-bag, weigh and price NZ porcelain clay to smaller volumes (ATD) 1.5 hours
  13. Disassemble steel rack to left of main entrance; replace top board of table; re-jig layout and
    re-assemble steel racking; thorough clean of area (know which end of a spanner to hold
    (simple carpentry/ ‘engineer’ skills) 1 hr; 30 mins; 30 mins; 30 mins
  14. Design and build portable wooden ramp covered with non-slip material to offer ease of
    access to wheelchairs, etc outside side door exit to back driveway (planning and building
    skills) 3 hours
  15. Vehicle with trailer (or small truck) supplier, willing to take rubbish to dump. WPA will
    reimburse the tip fee. [required Sunday mid-afternoon]