Snakebird Designs is the creative endeavour of myself (Sarah Muir-Smith). I am incredibly grateful to live, work and create on Bunurong land in Yarraville, Victoria Australia.
ABOUT THE MAKER
I remember as a kid discovering soft patches of clay down by the church in the schoolyard, marvelling at it's rich colour and how magically it responded to touch- little pockets of gold amongst the pebbles and dirt. Attending my first handbuilding workshop run by Kate of Dot and Co in 2017, it all came flooding back- I was hooked on clay.
I went on to spend one day a week as studio assistant for Dot and Co for a few months, where I was shown the basics of handbuilding and wheel throwing techniques, and how a functional studio operates.
Despite several set backs (read: a chronic wrist injury and later, surgery) I managed to set up a studio in the shed of my sharehouse and the rest is history!
When not in lockdown, I study one day a week at the School of Clay and Art in Brunswick, attending the studio program. This has been instrumental in contextualising my practice using clay within the rich global history of ceramics and art, as well as honing my technical skills and developing my artistic voice.
A huge thanks goes to those who have generously passed on their learnings to others (such as my teachers) or those who have shared their glaze recipes etc. to be tinkered with. The collaborative environment at SoCA is endlessly inspiring, and I have it to thank for my recent understanding of the materials used to create work for Snakebird Designs.
It's humbling to be able to pass on my learnings to others who are at the start of their own journey with this magical material. When not in lockdown, I teach Introduction to Ceramics workshops at Handmaker's Factory in West Footscray, as well as a weekly wheel class.
ABOUT THE WORK
Generally I prefer to use modest glazes that show off the texture and natural properties of the clay. My real joy comes from making things the way I like them, when I can't already find the perfect version out in the world.
I use both my noisy, secondhand potters wheel and handbuilding techniques (mainly slab building and pinching), depending on the design. I'm constantly searching for new, more efficient methods and striving for clean, simple shapes that can handle being used every day. I am particularly inspired by the humble elegance of Japanese ceramics.
The ceramics process is slow, taking several weeks for just one item to be made, trimmed, fired, glazed and fired again (with countless other steps in between). Great care and attention must be given to each piece, as there are a thousand things that can go wrong. I hope this intentionality comes through the pots when they are in their final form and in their forever homes.
The styles and finishes are constantly developing as I learn more from the materials and how to best honour them.
I am painfully aware of my environmental impact, and hope to minimise the ecological footprint that Snakebird has on the world. Aside from the plastic stickers (deliberately durable since lots of people stick them on their phones), all packaging materials used for Snakebird Designs are compostable. This includes gaemi ranpak- a paper alternative to bubble wrap, water activated paper kraft tape and recycled paper for filling gaps, so once you take your sticker off you can chuck the whole thing in the compost or feed it to the worms!
My business cards are printed on seeded paper, so once you've read yours you can soak the card in water for a few days and then put in a pot of soil and cover it with a few mm of soil. Keep it moist and it will sprout either into Swan River Daisies (purple native daisies) or Chamomile- to one day drink out of your mug as tea!
My parcels are sent using Sendle, who carbon offset each delivery.
To bring joy to my customer's daily lives.
To provide moments of reflection/appreciation through the tactility of ceramics intended for daily use. To encourage the free and regular use of beautiful things.
The hope for Snakebird Designs is to create items that people love- ones that are functional (or beautiful for the sake of being beautiful) and that people can form their own special connections with.
Going forward, the aim is to use more found and local materials, showcasing the richness and beauty of the natural world around us.
Snakebird Designs is intended for those who appreciate beauty that can found in every day life, regardless of their financial situation. It's very important that at least some of the Snakebird Design range stays accessible to everybody through initiatives like Community Over Capitalism.
Eventually I would like for Snakebird Designs to facilitate a space where everybody feels welcome to come and learn to create and nurture their inherent creativity.
I would like to foster a sense of community where people can connect and share ideas.