Yabba Pottery reimagining living spaces through functional pottery
Inspired by the vibrant culture of Jamaica and the bright colours of the Caribbean Sea, Sally Roper exercises perfect timing, patience, and knowledge to create her beautiful art of functional pottery.
Randomly discovering her love of pottery making at a Christmas bazaar, Roper later knew that she was destined to pursue the art form. “I went to a bazaar in Christmas back in 2005 ... a girl was sitting at the wheel (pottery wheel) throwing a piece of pottery. I thought to myself ‘that looks very easy’. So, I signed up. I quickly learned that it is not easy,” she said.
Not allowing herself to be dismayed by her original inability to throw clay and form clay art, she continued to practise and further her skills. “So, I just pursued it and carried on, and now a lot of people have told me that I have amazing hands for pottery,” Roper shared.
Following the discovery of her talent, she later decided to create a business where she would be able to share her love for the art form. The next task on her hands was to find the perfect name for her business. “I really didn’t know what I wanted to call my pottery business. What I ended up doing was, I went online and I went through Jamaican slang terms, and I went through looking for anything that was pottery-related and I went all the way to Y, and I saw Yabba,” the Canada-born artist shared.
The description behind the word ‘yabba’ caught her attention and therefore led her to officially establish her company under the name, Yabba Pottery.
“I started back in 2005 as just a student of a pottery studio, and then, about eight or nine years later, I purchased a kiln and a wheel and I started to create on my own and work art of my own. That’s what I do now, I have a home studio and I am more a hobby potter.”
She shared that she genuinely enjoys creating decorative and functional art forms for people to use in their homes.
The process of creating her functional pottery pieces is not easy. Envisioning that she was at her pottery wheel, the hobby potter went through her entire process of how she would create a finished product. “Firstly, I import all of my raw materials, being the clay itself and the glaze. If I were 20 years old, I would dig out the clay myself,” she shared. “When I am sitting at the wheel, I am basically a wheel thrower. I work on the wheel primarily. I put a piece of clay on the wheel and I would have already decided what it is going to look like as a finished product. I shape it while it is elastic and mobile, then let it dry for a day,” she continued.
Before her artwork is complete, she trims the outside of the art to create the final shape. She then leaves it to sit to become bone dry. “Fortunately, Jamaica is nice and hot, so the pieces dry very quickly,” she shared.
“Then I fire it to a temperature that is about 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Then I glaze it.”
Ultimately, the process takes approximately two weeks.
“I make a lot of mugs and bowls and textured plates, so really you can put them as decorative pieces on a dining table or on a living room table or on a verandah. I can make pieces that are attached to a wall also,” the artist shared.
For exclusivity, Yabba Pottery art forms can only be found in a limited number of places islandwide, and are also available three times a year at the Conu’co Market, in Priory, St Ann.