575 Commonage Rd,
(Just up the road from Simmo's Ice-Creamery)
10-5 Daily - children welcome
08 9755 3479
If you chanced upon Happs Vineyard & Pottery on a visit to the Margaret River wine region, what would you expect to find?
Hand crafted and lovingly made ceramics?
Quality and beauty?
Many visitors have been delighted to ‘chance’ upon Happs Pottery and return to make their annual pilgrimage adding to their collection year by year. For it is not just the wines that make Happs a unique place to visit, it is the ambience of something less corporate and definitely more personal.
Housed in a mud brick complex hand built in the mid seventies by Erl and Ros Happ, the pottery is an icon in the craft industry. A budding and busy hub during that time, it has flourished under the guidance of Erl’s son Myles, to become an art destination in more recent years.
A Celebration of Ceramics.
Myles began his personal journey in clay with sincerity in 1998 – on a working holiday break from selling the family wine in New South Wales. The return was timely, a change was required to lift the pottery to a new level of professionalism and quality – to match the wines that were being produced by Erl.
It began with moving the furniture and expanding the retail area… Removing the old oil kiln ‘while Dad went on a holiday!’ And more importantly inviting other potters who shared the joy of creation to come along. With Kim Potter, who has now been at Happs for over 20 years, David Thomson and Dave Ellis, Happs Pottery was now a throbbing venture with a growing range of colours and shapes.
It is with a moving note of earnestness that Myles explains the decorations across the pottery.
“Signature Series was the first time we saw a pattern that was able to be reproduced by all the potters, and it opened a world that hadn’t been explored for me. I could see the possibilities of making a range that would be collectable. Not only that, but it was the use of a traditional glaze, Tenmoku, that was exciting with the golden highlights of what we call the Varigated Tan and Frosty White.
“We still do this one, and potters from all over the world have complimented us on the way it is a really unique and individual use of what is quite often a very boring colour!”
Now the pottery has a very appealing look with colours named after local places like Bunker Bay Green and Yallingup Waves. Others were contributed by customers with suggestions like Outback and Sunset. Desert Day, Blue Grass and Periwinkle are by the potters and what inspires them – visitors always have a favourite, and some can’t chose one, collecting and using a menagerie of pots!
Pottery has a long history and is one of the hardest wearing forms of art in the world. This remains true, the pots made at Happs Pottery are durable, able to be
put in the dish washer, microwave and oven and the glazes are non-toxic.
While most of the pottery is now made at the home studio, off site at Mylestone on Caves Road, Anniebrook, occasionally you will find a ‘potter up the hill.’ However, the friendly staff at the pottery are knowledgeable about the process and are intensely passionate about arts in the area in general. They are more than happy to give visitors a tour or let them wander at will. It is highly recommended to collect a copy of the Margaret River Artisan map while there. It’s free and a great guide to seeing the wonderful artisans of the region.
Children are very welcome.
There is a table with toys to play with inside for the little guys, and most delightful courtyard garden to roam. “The playground was another adventurous step taken when Erl went on a holiday,” says Jacquie Happ wife of Myles and ‘manager of stuff.’ “We have four kids, and we want our visitors to know and feel that their children are welcome.”
“It never ceases to amaze me when people come in and say that they are still using the same pots they bought 20 years ago. Its like pottery is timeless. Many of the children of those people are coming in too because they recognize the durability, and differentness of each pot.
“We have customers who travel from as far as Canada and who make trips down here to add to their collection. We are happy to pack it and send it back for them so they don’t have to carry it. Most of the pots we send are to people from interstate, and who appreciate that the cost of the freight is a small price for something unique.”
“We want our pottery to be approachable and valued. We want people who buy it to use it and not just put it in a cupboard for good! We don’t have set at home, we have a plethora of colour in the drawers, and I love pulling out different dip bowls and platters for gatherings of family and friends.
“Pottery is a dying art. Its hard physical work and very labour intensive. There is less and less approachable, hand made tableware because of imported products. But we know we are doing a great job and proud to be locally made!
The pottery website has a great sample of the different forms and colours that are available – gently reminding the visitor, that pottery takes a long time to produce, and it might not be available on the day. Orders can be placed and posted to interested people who are patient enough to wait for their next quality piece.
A new bridal registry is offered to those who want to start their collection in a big way – what an opportunity to get gifts of tableware completely different to the normal wedding fare. People often stock up on Christmas presents because they know they won’t be back for that busy time.
Visiting Happs Pottery is an experience in a friendly environment. Visitors get more than just a look at contemporary pottery. They come away with something to treasure and remind them of a special time away from the normal. A something that adds style to their home, a gift for a lifetime.
The Capes Art Market will be held on Sunday 28 Nov from 10-3pm at Happs Vineyard & Pottery, 575 Commonage Road, Dunsborough.
While there won’t be any one working on the weekend, tours will be available on Saturday 13 if any one would like to visit at Happs.
ph: 9755 3479.
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