Richard Beauchamp is a ceramicist based in Ōtautahi. With a background in specialty coffee, he’s learnt a thing or two about what makes a good cup. Now he’s keeping busy in his home studio making the perfect vessels to drink from. We chat to Richard about the unique stoneware mugs that he’s been creating by hand and find out what makes a good coffee.
01 You moved from Wellington to Christchurch to set up your studio, can you tell us a bit more about how the studio came to be? What inspired this move South?
The move was really about an opportunity to set up my own studio space—a total dream for any aspiring potter. Good friends of mine were quietly observing my newfound hobby develop into a small business and suggested I set up a kiln in an old shed on their family farm. It was too exciting an opportunity to pass up.
02 Can you tell us about your art practice and your journey with making?
I’d been waiting for the chance to try my hand at pottery for some time before I managed to do a beginners course at my local pottery club. I wasn’t exactly sure if I’d enjoy it but I was absolutely hooked from day one. Before long, I found myself spending most nights and weekends at the clubrooms, filling shelves with stacks of mugs and to my surprise, people started to take an interest. Though I didn’t initially set out to sell my work, I soon found that there’d be enough demand to entertain the thought of making it a full-time thing
03 You previously worked in the coffee industry, how did this inform your practice when designing and making functional objects?
Working for a coffee roastery, I just about always had a mug in hand—whether I was standing behind an espresso machine, sitting in the office or out visiting one of the cafes we supplied. These days, when I’m sitting down behind my pottery wheel, all of that hands-on experience is an invaluable resource. I think after spending that much time in a cafe environment, you learn to appreciate good design and develop a taste for what you do or don’t like. It’d be fair to say that industrially produced ceramics have played a big role in informing my creative practice.
04 We hear your love for coffee, we drink a looot of coffee here at A&C! What’s your go-to cup? Any tips for making a good brew?
I have soooo many tips. Fresh beans are a good start. If you want to get into the nitty gritty, an accurate set of scales and a timer go a long way to dialling in a tasty brew. I have a Moccamaster set up on the kitchen bench, so each day starts with a whole pot of filter coffee.
05 Can you tell us what a typical day in the studio looks like for you?
One of the exciting things about pottery is that there’s so many steps in the making process. Depending on what stage of production I’m up to, I might be throwing, trimming, attaching handles, loading the kiln, unloading the kiln, waxing bases, glazing, fettling, loading the kiln a second time, unloading the kiln a second time, sanding bases, and/or packaging up orders for the courier. It’s not all Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, but it certainly has its moments.
06 Any other thoughts, hopes, influences for this year?
It’s only been a year since I started producing work in my own studio, so it’s still early days. I have so many ideas I want to execute and there’s always more to learn. Carving out space for creative exploration can be a challenge amid all the production, but it’s a rewarding process and one worth taking the time to enjoy.