interview: Up close and Personal with Sootcookie

Nicola Scott from Wantidd  spent some time down the rabbit hole talking to Tanya Laing from Sootcookie Ceramics. Q: Where did your design journey start? A: After finishing high school at the National School of the Arts in Braamfontein, I decided that my future was going to be in the creative industry. I went on to study at The Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town. I majored in sculpture, which is where my interest in the ceramic medium was sparked, with my graduate exhibition consisting of an installation of ceramics and video art. After university, I worked part time as an assistant teacher in the ceramics department of Herschel Girls’ School and as an apprentice with Wendy McLachlan who has her Masters in Ceramics & Sculpture. Wendy taught me a huge amount. I then started making pieces of my own. Q: What inspired you to make your unique ceramic wares? A: I wanted to combine my conceptual background with something functional, creating something unique and intriguing. I like to contrast materials and objects. I cast a pair of boxing gloves to use as a hanging flower vase for example. The contrast between the original function of the gloves (a violent masculine sport) being cast in fragile material and used as a vessel for flowers creates an interesting tension. Some of the themes I work with are masculine versus feminine, material versus object, traditional versus contemporary, “cute” versus disconcerting, Japanese sculpture and ceramic design, as well as South African cultural influences can be seen in my work. Q: What drives and inspired you? A: How nice it is to spend your day doing work you love? There is a sense of freedom having a design studio in which you are able to constantly experiment and try new things. I really enjoy the process of seeing something go from a drawing or an idea to a finished physical product. Q: What are you busy with at the moment? A: Lately I have been focusing on custom work, making unique custom items for clients. I am developing my fortune cookie range, which is an expansion of the tableware range, as well as porcelain chandeliers and hanging pendant tea lights, all with a unique Sootcookie feel. Tanya invites everybody to come have a look at her new studio/gallery in the Old Biscuit Mill, open from 9 to 4:30, Monday to Friday, and 10 – 2 on Saturdays. If you would like to have something specially made you can come say hi at the shop or email her at [email protected] Website :

Contact: Wantid


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