Flow Studio’s Staci Coble shapes her clay using the gentle currents of the ocean as her muse
Out on the shimmering blue waters of Tāmaki Makaurau, Staci Coble dreams up the most beautiful bowls and vases. “I have a deep love and respect for the ocean and love to surf, which is where I tend to draw inspiration for my work,” she says.
On land, Staci is the founder of Flow Studio Ceramics, specialising in handmade bespoke pieces that are largely wheel thrown. Flow Studio isn’t just a name but an ethos too, a laissez-faire approach to life and clay.
“What’s great about ceramics is there’s always a lesson to be learned,” she says. “Most importantly though, I’ve found that being flexible is key— whether it’s with time, plans or preparation. Things happen beyond your control and you have to go with the flow.” From wavy candelabras to glossy trinket bowls, Staci weaves the natural world around her into her work. You might have seen her ethereal pieces on homewares shop shelves around Auckland, as well as being a stockist on our new online marketplace, Shop your Home and Garden.
How did you end up working with clay?
I started working with clay when I was six years old at after-school programmes, then I took ceramics courses years later. About two years ago, I quit my 9-5 job to take a break from burnout and started teaching at The Clay Centre where I’d been taking classes as a creative outlet after work. From there, I took the plunge into doing ceramics full-time and haven’t looked back.
Can you provide insight into the techniques and processes that go into hand-throwing each piece?
Unless I’m making to order, I really enjoy having a loose plan as to what I make. It’s nice to have flexibility in the creative process and I like to figure it out as the clay slowly takes shape. Sometimes I’ll experiment and use everyday objects to implement texture.
Nature really serves as a muse for you, from the fleshy husks of coconuts to the gills of an oyster mushroom. How do you go about translating inspiration into design?
I love texture and translating it from nature can be quite fun. In the past I’ve used shells and sand. I look at my pieces from micro and macro perspectives, utilising forms and details I see in nature.
This year you’ve branched out into raku pottery, an ancient Japanese firing technique. How would you describe that process and what drew you to it?
I learned to do raku many years ago from one of my ceramic teachers, which I was immediately drawn to. Raku is a very interactive process of firing and the results vary due to many variables. Pulling your work out of the kiln at 1000°C and placing them in a combustible chamber is always exciting, and the cracks that form in the glaze are completely random, so no two pieces are ever the same. I’m also experimenting more with naked raku, which is a slightly different process. The entire surface of the clay is left matte, without any glaze on it, and it looks more natural.
What trends are happening in the world of pottery right now?
Mugs are always popular, however lately I’ve been seeing a lot of 3D printing in my feed for larger works.
You recently had a pop-up studio in Britomart with Pompeii Home. How was that experience, especially working with a good friend?
It was a dream come true. SpaceFor provided the perfect canvas to set up the shop how we had imagined: modern, minimalistic gallery vibes. The shop helped expand our customer base and it was so lovely seeing new and familiar faces, while being able to show our products in-person. We loved being in Britomart among all the amazing brands there, Ortolana and The Store. Working with Courtney (owner of Pompeii Home) has been a great experience. We work really well as a team and, from a visual perspective, our brands perfectly complement each other. It’s been a bit of a full circle moment for us as we did our first market together two years ago and it’s a special experience being able to work with one of your best friends and see each other’s brands grow. I’m proud of how far we’ve come and extremely grateful we had the opportunity to work together. We’re always having fun while we work alongside one another.
What’s your most popular product?
You’re one of our gorgeous stockists on our online store, Shop Your Home and Garden. Do you have plans or dreams of opening a physical store one day?
I would love to open a physical store/showroom in the future and have my studio connected to it. But for now that’s a dream I’ll continue working towards.
Any exciting projects coming up?
Always. I’m constantly dreaming up new designs, experimenting with techniques, and sketching or jotting down ideas. I’m inspired daily by the world around me. Courtney and I will be collaborating on a piece of work for an exhibition, X>1, which is being held at Depot Artspace from 30 September to 28 October. Curated by artist Richard Penn, X>1, aims to celebrate the power of collaboration in the artistic process and highlight the remarkable outcomes that arise from collective efforts. At the end of October until 20 November, I’ll also have a raku exhibition at Half Pint Gallery in Hunua. Pompeii Home and I may even hold another pop-up before the end of the year.
Discover the Flow Studio Ceramics range at Shop Your Home and Garden.
Words by: Caroline Moratti. Photography by: Babiche Martens