Meet a Maker is a series the Mudgee Guardian have created in conjunction with Mudgee Fine Foods to tell the story of how your local businesses began.
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Pottery, it's the timeless art that brings joy to many.
Attending community college every Thursday night for nine years set Catherine Sykes on a path she could not avoid walking down, it was the fire that lit her love for pottery.
After bidding the corporate life farewell over a decade ago, the Mudgee local set about doing something she had a passion for, and that is when Claycat Pottery was born.
"I went to a community college in Sydney with a friend. We sat up the back on the wheel and one day we decided we had to get good or go home because we were just gossiping. We now each have our own home studios," Ms Sykes said.
Given the time it takes to produce a single item, Ms Sykes, who wheel throws, is constantly thinking about what to make next, especially when markets are fast-approaching.
I'm always thinking about what I can make next or how to solve a problem, there's always something new to explore.Catherine Sykes
"I'm constantly at it because of the time between making, waiting for drying, firing and then glazing. A piece has to be fired twice. A turn around time is usually around a week or so for a piece in cool weather, maybe even longer.
"It's a slow craft, it really is. There are a lot of failures because you are not in control of everything. The kiln may not like the glaze you put on or the piece might crack, but when you get it right, the highs are really high."
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Functional items including bowls, platters and cups are typically what Ms Sykes makes, however she has recently begun trying her hand at woodfired raku.
"It's a wonderful form of pottery and you get quick results. After you've electric kiln-fired a piece, you then glaze it and it's only half an hour," she said.
As a Mudgee market staple stallholder, Ms Sykes looks forward to offering locals a plethora of unique and handmade gifts for the festive season as the December markets near.
"It's really heartening to see the locals at the markets purchasing and supporting the makers. The markets are just one avenue to go direct to the public with and for some, it's their only avenue," she said.
"We saw in COVID that without the tourists, we rely on the locals to support us and it's really heartening when they do.
"Last December's market was a bumper because everyone was on the hunt for something really personal and handmade. It was really encouraging for the makers to see that so we're hoping it's the same this year."
The Mudgee Makers' Markets will be held on December 4 ahead of the Mudgee Farmers' Markets on December 18.
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