WONKI WARE CRAFTS INNOVATIVE AND STUNNING CLAY
Di Marshall and her talented team at Wonki Ware continue to produce bespoke clay work following their serendipitous founding nearly 20 years ago.
Found in George along the scenic Garden Route, Wonki Ware is a pottery studio and a lifelong dream and adventure for founder Di Marshall, who along with her talented team are now renowned for their innovative clay work.
Notably, Wonki Ware was born out of serendipity – and has led Di and her staff down a 20-year journey of discovery.
“My family came to George about 20 years ago”, says Di. “We bought a farm and the farm didn’t work out, so we moved into George, and I immediately got a small studio on the main street selling things I’d made personally”.
“Literally, within two weeks we had people stopping in at my tiny little store in George. We bring people in and train them up in the art of pottery and we never part with them, because most of our staff have been with us for the 15-20 years we’ve been in existence”, Di says.
Wonki Ware’s first staffer, Artwell Lulamile Mthonjeni, helped bring the business to fruition – and today is the Head Potter at Wonki Ware. Among other skilled craftsmen, Artwell helps bring a host of products to life.
“As the potters are trained at Wonki Ware, they generally start on smaller shapes and will go onto bigger shapes,” Lindsey Dickson, General Manager at Wonki Ware explains. “Each potter is then trained in patterning; our methods of doing our patterns are a trade secret. Here at Wonki Ware we employ about 80 people from different walks of life.”
Wonki Ware produces a range of products spanning bowls, servers, mugs, jugs, and other accessories. Wonki Ware further produces its range of products with secretive techniques to produce its iconic designs, and uses local materials to forge exciting new ideas which has seen clients both local and foreign purchase unique additions to their homeware.
“Everybody asks me where the name ‘Wonki Ware’ comes from,” remarks Di. “As creative things happen, it just comes to you – so we made plates, and we thought, what does it look like? It looks wonky! It was that simple.”
For Di, Wonki Ware is an odyssey 20 years in the making. “If I had planned Wonki Ware, I could have never made this happen. It just happened organically and mordaciously and (by) having the right people around me, and the support, and my happiness as a person.”
“I think we all have moments and times in our lives when we are happy; and when I got going with Wonki Ware the stars were completely aligned,” Di says. “Clay is the love of my life, it has never let me down – it’s supported me, and it’s shown the world what I’m all about as well; so I honour clay.”
“It’s been an amazing journey, and it’s very nice to know that we are recognized – my potters and myself – for the hard work that we put into making Wonki Ware,” Di concludes.