Mieke De Deyne’s passion for ceramics began when her husband, Ferre, bought her a pottery wheel and a couple of classes for her 40th birthday. “We always joke that it unleashed a monster,” says Mieke’s daughter, Charlie, who shares the same passion and works alongside her mother.
Mieke and Charlie continued to buy more equipment, setting up a ceramics studio on the Sunshine Coast. They peddled their wares locally under the name Mas & Miek but often ventured into the city, conducting pop-ups and garnering a loyal following via regular appearances at the GOMA markets.
After extensive research and trips to Melbourne and Sydney, the De Deynes noticed a gap in the market for ceramics classes that educated people on an individual level, rather than lessons that followed a set curriculum. “The way we operate is: every person that comes in is an individual and progresses at an individual rate,” says Charlie. “I find that’s a more enjoyable way to work.”
The Mas & Miek Ceramic House, which opened last week in Newstead, occupies a 265-square-metre warehouse previously used as a stretch hummer storage and washing facility. There was work to be done when they took the keys, but the De Deynes love how the large windows allow plenty of natural light into the venue. They’ve given the space a face lift and decorated the interior with their own ceramics, patterned fabrics and plenty of greenery.
Classes run for three hours, with 20 people per class. There are 12 hand-building seats, eight pottery wheels, two electric kilns, a slab roller, a clay bar (from which you choose what clay to use) and everything else a student might need. “I’m really taken aback by how many people have booked classes,” Charlie says. “We’ve had over 300 people sign up.”
The attached cafe focuses on local suppliers and serves Fonzie Abbott coffee and stocks cold-pressed HRVST juices and BNE Soda Co. Punters are encouraged to enjoy their drinks on the mezzanine level where there’s comfortable seating and a library of ceramics books. Charlie hopes to soon add a small selection of baked goods to the cafe’s offering.