Kleipots Ceramic Studio

Amelia Jacobs, Devil’s Peak Estate, Cape Town

PASSIONATE ABOUT THE
POTENTIAL OF CLAY

Amelia Jacobs

I am a ceramicist and teacher – living in Cape Town, South Africa – with over 30 years’ experience.

I have a small studio setup at my home on the lower slopes of Devil’s Peak in the shadow of Table Mountain, or “Hoerikwagga” (The Mountain in the Sea) as it was known to the indigenes.

In my late teens I took my first pottery class and soon realised it was all about giving life to a simple lump of mud. I was hooked. I have since worked with and learned my craft from a whole host of wonderfully talented potters in and around Cape Town, who are a constant inspiration to me.

In recent years I started teaching small groups a few nights a week. I just love the interaction and creativity. It is always a thrill and a marvel to unpack a kiln after a firing.

Pottery is a wonderful journey, I believe that when one has a ball of clay in one’s hand, you lose your inhibitions and let out your inner person.

portrait of Amelia Jacobs, Cape Town ceramicist
deft hands shape a ceramic vessel on the wheel
olla by kleipots

Discover Ollas!

From the resourcefulness of ancient desert civilisations comes a waterwise device that's perfect for a modern urban garden.

award-winning ceramics by Cape Town-based Amelia Jacobs
tableware by cape town ceramicist, Amelia Jacobs

ACCOLADES AND HONOURS

Recognition

I do not think one ever becomes an “expert” in pottery as there is something new to be learned every day. I do value being recognised by my peers and I do believe that my work is unique and I am constantly seeking new avenues to explore.

In 2013 I was asked to teach at the Art In The Forest, a Cape Town-based ceramics centre managed and run by South African master potter Anthony Shapiro.

I was awarded “Best Porcelain on Show” at the 2016 CSA Western Cape Regional Exhibition of Ceramics South Africa. 

La Motte wine estate in Franschhoek in the Western Cape Winelands has repeatedly invited me to take part in their prestigious annual “Art in Clay Festival”.

In 2018 I received one of the 10 best Select Awards at the “Fire for Effect” exhibition at A.I.R. Vallauris in France.

In 2019 I received a Merit award at the Western Cape Regional Exhibition of Ceramics South Africa.

Praise from students and peers

You've landed in clay heaven if you're a student at Amelia's pottery studio. More than her obvious technical ability, Amelia's classes are infused with wonder and discovery; she guides and coaxes students to create little miracles; all the while forming, shaping and encouraging with humour and love. Her childlike wonder of the process is contagious and she deftly handles students of varying skill and talent to achieve that treasured piece of work.
Amelia Keefer
Pottery student
Amelia se toewyding aan haar craft en aan elke student is next level. Sy stel nie net in elkeen se vordering belang nie, maar benader elke stukkie klei en item, hoe eenvoudig ookal, met respek en entoesiasme. Haar klasse is nie net leersaam nie, maar is ook baie fun en ontspanne.
Laureen Rossouw
Pottery student
I had no ambitions, no clear idea of why I was doing pottery when I first started with Amelia, and she was endlessly patient with my unfocused exploration. When I realised that I didn’t like building and what I enjoyed was wheelwork, she showed me the basics and let me get on with it. After a few months of playing around on the wheel, I was suddenly driven to do better, to take the learning more seriously. Without me saying a word to her about it, Amelia stepped in with clarity and guided me towards what she could see I needed at that point. From that point of view, she is one of the best teachers of anything I have ever had, giving me both the freedom I needed to immerse myself in something, never pressurising me to make decisions, but intuiting my exact learning needs at the exact right time. That combination of knowledge and experience on one hand, and distance and availability on the other, is rare and valuable in a teacher.
Karin Schimke
Pottery student

THE CAMISSA PROJECT

Translucent porcelain, smoke-fired with indigenous Fynbos

The Camissa project was inspired by the Fynbos (“Fine Bush’) biome of the Western Cape.

Vast tracts of this fantastically diverse biome burn to the ground in the hot dry summers in spectacular and sometimes life-threatening bush fires. When the first autumn rains fall, the charred moonlike landscape slowly regenerates and over time the veld comes alive again in all its diverse splendour.

Camissa or //ammi i ssa (“Sweet-water”) was the name early Khoena people gave to a large stream that ran from Table Mountain through what is now central Cape Town. It is sadly not to be seen anymore as it has been “tunneled” under the concrete of the modern-day city.

This porcelain is initially fired at very high temperatures, 1 200º Centigrade, and sometimes even higher. The result is a vitreous clay body that is very hard and translucent. Smoke-firing such porcelain is a tricky process and prone to a myriad of challenges, especially thermal shock, which can literally cause a vessel to shatter if one is not careful. I like to fire each piece individually, which makes them so unique and precious to me.

Translucent porcelain smoke fired with indigenous Fynbos
Translucent porcelain bowls, smoke fired with indigenous Fynbos
Raku planters by Cape Town ceramist Amelia Jacobs
Raku bowl by Cape Town ceramist Amelia Jacobs
Raku planters by Cape Town ceramist Amelia Jacobs

Raku firing must be by far the most exciting activity of any potter’s life.

Nothing beats the theatre of a red hot vessel pulled with tongs from a red hot kiln, the tic-tic-tic sound of the glaze crackling when waved around a bit in the cool air, then carefully placed on a bed of pine needles in the reduction chamber which promptly erupts into a fiery spectacle.

A lid is then placed on the reduction chamber and smothered with wet towels to starve the chamber of oxygen. This carbonises and blackens any surface on the pot that was not glazed and helps to reveal the fine dark crackling lines that are so typical of raku.

When they have sufficiently cooled in the reduction chamber, the pieces are immersed in water and then the scrubbing begins. Like a phoenix the charred black pots are transformed, revealing textures, colours and crackles that can never ever be duplicated. I like to think of raku as a dance of the elements. Earth, water, air and fire.

Around sunset or early evening is the ideal time to do raku; in the low light the drama is at its most spectacular.

FIRE MAGIC

Raku

Raku firing

as a gift, for yourself

Purchase

If you are interested to “see” my ceramics with your own hands or maybe buy some of my work you can contact me directly.

Some of my work is also available at:

  • Belly of the Beast, 110 Harrington St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town
  • How Bazaar, 46 Voortrekker St, McGregor 
  • La Motte Farm Shop, R45, Franschhoek
  • île de païn, 10 The Boatshed, Long St, Thesen Island, Knysna
  • The Beautiful Life Store, 37 Fourth Ave, Parkhurst, Johannesburg
  • Umhlanga Medisport Pharmacy, Umhlanga Rocks
  • Elgin Roots, Elgin Railway Market, Grabouw
Plates by Cape Town potter.y teacher, Amelia Jacobs
Raku egg trays by Cape Town ceramist Amelia Jacobs
Pottery classes in Cape Town

HANDS-ON LEARNING 

Ceramics classes

I teach weekly classes both in daytime and in the evenings. I try to keep my classes as small as possible to make sure everyone gets individual attention. The atmosphere is very informal and relaxed.

Activities include pinching, coiling, wheel work and slip casting for beginners and experienced ceramicists.

I also offer individual sessions for people who want to improve in specific or technical skills such as advanced wheel throwing.

Raku and other workshops are organised on an ad hoc basis.

Please contact me for more information.

recent work

Showcase

To enlarge a photo, please click it. 

Coral bowls by Cape Town potter Amelia Jacobs
Coral bowls
Porcelain Carafe and cast vessels
Porcelain Carafe and cast vessels
Tagine by Cape Town potter, Amelia Jacobs
Low-fired Tagine for oven and stove top use. Supplied with a metal diffuser to absorb thermal shock.
A rooibos smoke-fired teapot
A porcelain teapot, fired with rooibos smoke
G5 breakfast bowls for RAIN Mobile Data
G5 breakfast bowls for RAIN Mobile Data
Tableware by Cape Town ceramicist
Pierneef-inspired Food and Wine pairing set - La Motte Farm Shop
Stacked stoneware bowls
A set of stackable stoneware bowls

Seen on Instagram 

A potter's life

Contact me

Kleipots is a collective of ceramicists
working in a collaborative space
in Devil’s Peak Estate, Cape Town

A Miso urn by Amelia Jacobs, Cape Town ceramicist