S.heART pottery studio
Silvia Schennach made a great dream come true with her own pottery studio in Ehrwald, Tyrol. In this interview, Silvia tells us how she named her studio, what kind of pottery courses you can do there, and why pottery has such a special place in her heart.
Silvia, just a general question to start: how did you get into pottery?
Silvia Schennach: When I had my first child in 2016, I realised that I wanted to get away from my previous job for a while and explore another side of my being. I have a teaching degree, but art is always where my heart was. I spent around a year in New Zealand back in 2010, where I discovered my passion for pottery. I then took several pottery courses and, in 2020, decided to start my own business – after all, I’d already gained quite a lot of experience in my own pottery spaces in Ehrwald, Tyrol.
What exactly does the name of your pottery studio, S.heART, mean?
Silvia: S.heART stands for many things. One of the most important things to me is making sure I incorporate nature into my work. I’ve completed a course of herbal training, and I run herb courses for everyone in Ehrwald, which take place outside in the fresh Tyrolean air. When you do pottery, though, you’re also always in harmony with nature. The clay itself is a product of Mother Nature. And so every item of pottery is a gift from the earth. You can also find all four elements in the pottery process: the clay from the earth is shaped by water and hands, before drying in the air, and finally being fired in the fire or kiln.
The name itself, S.heART, contains a number of meanings. It starts with an ‘S,’ just like my own name, and it contains the words ‘she’ and ‘heart,’ representing femininity and the emotion that goes into my work. You could say the name is just as versatile as I feel myself, and it’s pronounced as you might think, ‘she art’.
What items do you make in your pottery courses in Ehrwald, Tyrol?
Silvia: There’s always a main theme that our potters can use for their work on the course. My job is to assist them, for example in making bowls or cups. Containers in general are my speciality. During the pottery process, shaping a formless mass into something specific is an extremely fulfilling experience. I’m also in tune with the seasons: in the summer, we often create garden pottery, in the winter it’s more Christmas decorations. On the courses, by the way, we don’t use a pottery wheel. This kind of pottery gives far greater expression to your work, and you gain a noticeable sense of achievement all the faster.
What are the pottery courses like?
Silvia: My pottery courses always take place over two days: we do the actual pottery on the first, while the pieces are glazed on the second. I think it’s important for people to experience the entire pottery process. Once the pieces have dried in the air for about a week, they’re fired for around two days and then painted by the course participants themselves. The three-hour courses, which take place in groups of no more than four people, are suitable for everyone: children from the age of eight, and everyone above that. I also run courses at the weekend, which gives participants a bit longer – from 10 am to 5 pm – to immerse themselves in the world of pottery. You’re very welcome to join us, even if you’re just on holiday in Ehrwald and Tyrol. Even if you can’t make the second course day to paint your piece, I can do it for you and will send you your little artwork.
What do you like best about pottery?
Silvia: I love being creative and expressing myself in this way – which you can also see on my blog. Pottery is meditative stillness and pulsing life at the same time. It just feels great when you create something yourself – with your very own hands and heart. It’s a constant source of pleasure, for example when you drink coffee from the cup you made yourself – like I do in Ehrwald. And pottery appeals to all the senses. I always say, happy potters are the name of the game.