Dodie & Jamie Herschel are the proprietors of Nantyfelin Pottery. We have been potting together for over fifty years.
Jamie attended Carmarthen School of art after leaving Ystrad Tywi school in Carmarthen. After a two year pre-dip course of general art, Jamie went to Stoke on Trent College of Art to do a Dip A.D. in ceramics
We left Stoke on Trent College of art in 1970 and set up our first studio in Draycott in the Moor We built a wood fired kiln there and enjoyed many over night firings as we roasted potatoes in the embers falling into the ash pit.
We were the original ‘New Age Travellers’, before ‘New Age Travellers’ were invented, as after a couple of years we set off for Cornwall with all our worldly possessions in an old J4 Van, complete with a baby sleeping on the incredibly noisy engine cover. Having arrived in Cornwall and a couple of years working at Marazion Pottery we set up Prykernow Pottery in Hayle.
Eighteen years later we purchased Cripplesease Pottery close to St.Ives where we worked until 2003 before leaving to live in France for two years to paint and pot in the Languadoc. Here we set up Poterie de Sanfi which gave us the freedom to work as we pleased for two magical years.
In 2005 we returned to Wales. We built built a new house and workshop, Nantyfelin Pottery just outside Lampeter where we resumed our work.
Shortly after leaving Stoke-on-Trent College of Art we set up a small studio in the Staffordshire village of Draycott-in-the-Moor.
Here we built our first kiln using discarded fire bricks from the nearby potteries during kiln maintenance.
We worked exclusively with earthenware at this time which we found produced some very interesting results in our wood fired kiln. The fly ash deposited from the wood reacted with our glazes to give some unique and satisfying results..
After a couple of years at Draycott we decided to move to Cornwall as at that time it was the Mecca of studio potters.
So after a meeting with the bank manager and an estate agent we were ready for our adventure.
We were the original ‘New Age Travellers’, before ‘New Age Travellers’ were invented. With huge anticipation we set off for Cornwall. All our worldly possessions and our eldest daughter still a baby, in an old second hand J4 Van.
Little did we realise what an adventure it was to be. After working for George Nash at Marazion Pottery for two years, Jamie joined the staff at the Art School attached to Cornwall Technical College. The academic life was not fulfilling and so we were ready to start our own pottery once again. We started to plan the start of Prykernow Pottery which we had up and running within a few months after first converting an old milking shed to our workshop. Later we would acquire Cripplesease Pottery before our two year sabbatical in our French farmhouse in the Languedoc. Then finally the call of home brought us back to Wales
Now at Nantyfelin we are one again discovering the wide colour pallet and special pottery that earthenware can produce.
After leaving Staffordshire and our workshop at Draycott in the Moor, we set up Prykernow Pottery in the small fishing village of Hayle in Cornwall.
Here we worked for many years employing a small team of throwers and decorators producing hand made pottery for the wholesale market.
Sadly however the visitors moved to pastures new as cheap foreign holidays became the norm. Many people who used to holiday in Cornwall no longer came.
We moved all production to Cripplesease Pottery in 1994 and Prykernow Pottery closed with the loss of six skilled jobs.
In 1986 we bought Cripplesease Pottery which we ran simultaneously with Prykernow Pottery for a number of years. In 1994 we moved all production to Cripplesease Pottery.
Here we continued to produce hand thrown stoneware and a small amount of earthenware.
We also opened a small tearoom at this time which was much appreciated by our many visitors.
However it is fair to say we preferred to pot and were happy to leave it behind having sold Cripplesease. We set off for France on a much deserved, two year sabbatical.
Poterie de Sanfi
After selling up in Cornwall we set off for another much deserved adventure. Having spent many years working seven days a week and twelve hour days it was time for a long sabbatical. We wanted time to paint draw and pot without the constraints a full working pottery presents.
The Aude valley in the Languedoc is famous for it's ceramics and we spent many leisurely hours visiting potteries and talking to potters with many varied styles. We were not very far from the magical medieval city of Carcassonne which never failed to entice a visit with slightest excuse.
The time came to think of returning to Wales and family which were missed in equal measure. After much searching we finally found the smallest bungalow ever built, but there was room to build and so our next potting chapter began at Nantyfelin, Llanfair Clydogau.