Sarah Plackett - Founder and owner
Pottery is my passion - and has been for the past 7 years! After 15 years working in the translation industry, I was looking to make a career-change and incorporate a more creative purpose into my working life. My pottery journey began on an Adult Education evening class in Northampton; having built up a solid grounding in handbuilding, and following an introductory course in wheel-throwing, I acquired my own potter’s wheel and set up a small studio at my home. In 2016, life took me to the west coast of the USA, where, while living in San Francisco, I was lucky enough to find Clay by the Bay, an open-access ceramics studio offering courses, memberships and taster sessions. After joining the studio as a student and then member, the idea crystallised in my mind that this was an environment I wanted to create back home in the UK. My own work combines a love of both form and function. Teapots are my favourite vessel to make: as anyone who knows me will confirm, I’m never knowingly without a cup of tea in my hand! I love teaching and running the studio, and sharing with others my passion for pottery and the incredible benefits it has offered me. Seeing people grow in confidence and skill is extremely rewarding.
Andrew MacDermott - Instructor
I discovered a love & passion for pottery from a desire to try a new skill. I immediately fell in love with the tactile clay and found myself wanting to learn all I could. With a background in Community Development work for me it was a natural progression to combine my passion for connecting people with a desire to use pottery workshops as a tool of engagement. I now work across Milton Keynes and beyond delivering pottery workshops. I also make and sell my own collection of pottery inspired by landscapes and the environment around us. In particular the country of Iceland has captivated my imagination. All of my pottery is made at home in my small studio space which is my oasis, place to escape to and my creative world.
Sandy Pragnell - Instructor and Studio Assistant
Sandy joined the studio in September 2017 and teaches beginners’ and intermediate-level wheel-throwing, as well as group and private taster sessions. She’s also one of our lovely studio assistants, and is always on hand to offer support and encouragement - and put the kettle on at regular intervals throughout the day! Sandy can generally be found in the studio during weekday daytimes.
Jodie Starnes - Instructor and Studio Assistant
Jodie joined the studio in January 2018 and teaches beginners’ and intermediate-level wheel-throwing, as well as group and private taster sessions. When she’s not teaching, Jodie can be found in the studio most weekday evenings and Saturdays working on her own beautiful pieces - and offering tips and encouragement to students and members!
Jane Metcalfe - Seasonal Workshop Tutor
Along with Melissa (her partner in crime!), Jane was one of the very first students to join Swanspool Ceramics when we opened back in January 2017. A talented handbuilder, she now coordinates and runs our programme of seasonal workshops, primarily in the run-up to Christmas and Easter.
Gema Vizcay-Barrena - Studio Technician
Originally from Spain, Gema joined Swanspool Ceramics in January 2019, first as a student and later as a member, and has quickly become part of the studio furniture, as it were! Her scientific background makes her the perfect studio technician - and her pottery isn’t half bad either! Gema can generally be found in the studio during weekday daytimes and some evenings.
Melissa Waudby - Studio Assistant
Melissa - referred to affectionately around the studio as ‘Melissa Mouse’ on account of the beautiful tiny mice she often makes to adorn her pottery - has been with Swanspool Ceramics since its opening in January 2017, first as a student and member and later as a studio assistant. A crafter extraordinaire, she runs her own vintage-inspired crafting company Simply Vintage Designs, which takes her away from the studio for certain periods of the year but we’re delighted to have her in the studio when we can!