David Walters kneads and stretches a lump of clay a few times before placing it on his potter’s wheel.
He sits down and immediately starts working the white clay on the spinning wheel, which quickly takes shape with his manipulation. He deftly coaxes the clay and it defies gravity, rising from the wheel as a thin circular wall, and within seconds the lump has been transformed into a wide-mouthed bowl.
When Walters is satisfied with the bowl’s shape and size, he removes it from the wheel and places it with a few other bowls he has made. They will go undergo glazing and kiln firing before being sold.
He loves the medium in which he works, and holds up plates and bowls to show off how translucent they are following the processes he uses.
He uses iron oxide to glaze the product, which is then refired. He also uses a process which creates a smoky glaze.
Walters is a master potter, and has designed dinner sets for the Nelson Mandela Foundation and several wealthy customers from around the world. Many of the sets are personalised with crests, coats of arms and symbols.
He also provides hotels and restaurants with custom-made dinnerware and standalone pieces.
Walters runs the Ceramic Gallery from his beautiful house, in Dirkie Uys Street in Franschhoek.
“This is (one of) the oldest house in the village,” he says. The house was built in 1840 for Franschhoek’s first schoolteacher.
Walters bought the house in 1987 and set up shop. Beautiful dinnerware, with colourful glazes showcasing the techniques Walters uses, is displayed in various rooms. The studio, where the pottery magic happens, is set up in the back section of the house, and the large gas-fired kiln is in an adjoining room.
Walters says he loves working and living in Franschhoek.
“It is a very good place to be. Franschhoek is beautiful and if you are an artist, it is very important to surround yourself with beauty,” he says.
He says the village has a good energy and people are happily busy.
The gallery is open between 10am and 6pm daily during summer. During winter Walters opens the doors from Thursday to Sunday, on public holidays and by appointment.