What does a native Californian, who was once a US Military Police Officer stationed in former West Germany, have to do with the fragile world of pottery? Well, the answer is, quite a bit. With a narrative as rich and diverse as the central Australian clay he works with, Joe Darling runs The Pottery Shed, situated just off Crown Street in Surry Hills.
Sadly, what led Joe to pottery was him losing both his parents at a young age. In the days of orphanages, Joe was sent to one, in Fontana, California. Infamously known as a tough area, Joe attended the local school, where instead of the usual academic teachings, it concentrated on hands-on skills. As Joe remembers it, “The teachers embraced me, they were more like parental role models. While there I learned to do pottery and silversmithing. That’s where it all started.”
From originally being a student of ceramics, Joe came full circle to teaching it at Darlinghurst Public School for a number of years. It’s there that he discovered his passion for being a teacher. Joe developed and refined his curriculum, always making sure he imparted his learnings with both clarity and simplicity. And it’s the same consideration that Joe uses with his students today, at The Pottery Shed.
In a space of just two hours, individuals can discover how to roll their own clay, how to centre it on the wheel, to then creating their very own masterpiece. And for those that catch the pottery bug, and there’s a lot of them, Joe offers more advanced classes. As he puts it, “Pottery teaches you a lot about life, one being how to take your time.”
And The Pottery Shed is definitely time well spent.