in the studio with alessandro di sarno
Alessandro Di Sarno is a chef-turned-potter working in Manly, NSW. He works predominately on the pottery wheel and using glazes that he mixes and develops himself. Each of Alessandro’s pots is unique in its finish yet is designed to be used in sets and withstand everyday use. You may have come across his work at Sydney restaurants Sixpenny, LuMi Bar and Dining and Cho Cho San.
Every delivery of Alessandro’s work comes with stories of amazing wood-firing workshops he’s been attending, new commissions he’s completing for some of Sydney’s most renowned restaurants and most recently of the beautiful new studio space, The Plant Room.
We recently asked Alessandro some questions about his practice. Read on to discover more.
How do you describe yourself?
Curios and intuitive. Casual but professional. Eager to learn, willing to help.
Why/how did you start making pots?
As a former chef, my curiosity towards handmade tableware definitely sparked in the restaurant kitchen. Combining my love of working with handmade ceramics and my longstanding interest in art and appreciation for the handmade, I decided to take my first pottery class at the end of 2014.
Now that I am a full-time maker, I continue to have a lot of respect for artisans and their commitment towards the craft. I value learning from experienced potters who I admire and always seek out opportunities to expand my knowledge and refine my craft.
Describe your process?
Learning to adapt to the material rather than forcing the material to adapt to me, is crucial to be able to work fluidly and successfully in my process.
I work mainly with stoneware and porcelain, fired to cone 10 in an electric kiln. The majority of my work is thrown on the wheel and sporadically I do some press moulding. I do a lot of glaze testing in order to develop a better understanding of materials and glaze faults, but primarily to have a wide range of my own.
I have recently taken a course in the Korean technique of Onggii and I would really like to use this technique in the future to produce large hand-built pieces.
What is your favourite pot (could be yours, could be someone else's) and why?
There is such a huge variety of beautiful pots out there that it’s impossible to name a specific one for me. I know that a pot is a favourite when it creates a stimulus in my senses - it’s a gut feeling rather than a rational thinking process. I also particularly admire pieces that are able to reveal the context in which they were made.
What is something surprising about making pots?
There are so many variables involved in the making process that the final result it’s a surprise each time.
It’s also surprising how, even though I spend really long hours working in my studio, I am constantly thinking of making new pots and considering of new possibilities for me to move forward in my practice.