The dream of an own workshop and showroom

How happy and satisfied can 40 m² of presentation and working space make a ceramicist?

On this sub­ject, the face of Ines Lang a ceram­ist in Cologne takes on an almost bliss­ful expres­sion.

"I have always dreamed of having my own show­room and work­shop com­bined - ever since I gradu­ated as a ceram­ist. In August 2020, the time had finally come. During the renov­a­tion of the premises, I used my hands in a dif­fer­ent way for a change: to plaster walls, paint, lay lino­leum and to stick my excit­ing wall­pa­per on the wall. I can't even remem­ber how many wall­pa­per books I looked through before I found this inspir­ing pat­tern with the per­fect blue and cream shade of my own glaze and por­cel­ain paint."

That is cer­tainly one of Ines' tal­ents: patience and per­sist­ence and know­ing that what takes a long time will be good in the end!

Manual work - what does that mean for a ceramist?

“It's just nice to make some­thing with my own hands and to watch how I can turn a lump of clay into some­thing - a bowl, for example. During the entire work­ing pro­cess, I always use my hands - and very few tools. At the end of the week, when I take the fin­ished bowl back into my hands and put it in my shop window to sell, it is very ful­filling for me.”

Fascination of earth and fire.

Already at the age of 17, Ines knows that she wants to do some­thing with her hands. She leaves school and her Swa­bi­an home vil­lage and begins her train­ing as an appren­tice for ceram­ic in Tübin­gen, Ger­many.

“As a child, I always liked to 'fiddle' and 'fire' with my hands - shap­ing some­thing out of clayey earth, put­ting it in the fire and seeing how some­thing else emerges - I always found that fas­cin­at­ing. At the pot­tery classes in the youth centre, I star­ted to model with real clay”

But making the leap from the classroom to a phys­ic­ally demand­ing 8-hour work­day pushes her limits. The sense of achieve­ment in turn­ing the ves­sels is absent in the first few months. What looks so easy during a visit to a ceram­ics work­shop in Den­mark leads to uneven and crooked ceram­ics when sit­ting at her potter’s wheel.

“At the begin­ning of my train­ing, I had to throw my prac­tice pieces into the waste bin at the end of the day. My master crafts­wo­man Heike Bühner-Erd­mann explained to us how mis­takes occur and motiv­ated us to keep going. She often stood next to me and guided my hands so that I got a feel­ing for the move­ment when throw­ing my ceram­ic pieces”.

One advant­age for Ines is that she already has a skilled eye for pro­por­tions and the even­ness of shapes. In her child­hood, her mother, who is a paint­er, often takes her to museums and gal­ler­ies, thus train­ing her senses and per­cep­tion.

Technical knowledge and craftsmanship

After her 3 years appren­tice­ship her master cannot give her an employ­ment. Even the quite low salary is too much of a burden on her small work­shop. Ines works in an indus­tri­al laun­dry for six months and real­ises that she wants to fur­ther her ceram­ist edu­ca­tion in order to better real­ise her own ideas. She applies to the ceram­ics craft col­lege in Höhr-Gren­zhausen for a 3-year course to become a ceram­ics design­er. In the the­or­et­ic­al sub­jects she learns a lot about the nature of mater­i­als and what can be achieved with dif­fer­ent firing tech­niques. Sub­jects such as tech­nic­al draw­ing, art his­tory, aes­thet­ic per­cep­tion and design are fur­ther build­ing blocks for the real­isa­tion of her cre­at­ive designs.

“When I drink tea from my bowl in the morn­ing and see how the light falls through the trans­lu­cent por­cel­ain, it makes me very con­tent.”

To twist and pull the vessel wall so finely that it doesn't break during firing, that requires abso­lute per­fec­tion of tech­nique. 

 “I know that I am very good because of my age and exper­i­ence. I have felt the shapes of my ceram­ics so many times that my body has stored this tact­ile exper­i­ence. When I start a series of for example bowls than I almost auto­mat­ic­ally through the bowls after the 5th piece. I get into a FLOW that makes me happy and sat­is­fied.”

Light porcelain – ‘heavy’ start!

After her 6-year voca­tion­al train­ing, she moves to Cologne. To be able to pre-fin­ance her own work as a self-employed ceram­ist, she works as a wait­ress. Often, she is too tired to work at her potter’s wheel in a group work­shop. This is not the work­ing day she dreamed of. With the birth of her son, she gets a boost of motiv­a­tion and a struc­tured daily sched­ule. She rents her own work­room in the Cologne-Deutz Kunstwerk, sets up her kiln and work­benches and works on her por­cel­ain series, which she sells at the vari­ous mar­kets and fairs through­out the year.

“In the old fact­ory build­ing with my 20m² work­room, I led an almost erem­it­ic exist­ence. I only had con­tact with my cus­tom­ers at the exhib­i­tions. Then the Corona Lock­down came along. At the begin­ning of 2020, I heard from an acquaint­ance that this work­shop space would become avail­able.”

Ines is lucky: the rent fits into her budget and she does the renov­a­tion her­self. Since the open­ing, she notices that the loc­a­tion of the shop in a lively part of Cologne also allows her to reach 'drop in' cus­tom­ers. This saves her the expens­ive rent for the exhib­i­tion stands. The time-con­sum­ing pack­ing and unpack­ing of her fra­gile por­cel­ain are also elim­in­ated. She now per­ceives her work situ­ation as much more relaxed.

What is your new dream now?

“I want to work on free objects again and give myself the time to try out some­thing new. Look­ing through my sketch­books and my photo col­lec­tion, I real­ise that I still find many ideas excit­ing, and I have seen inspir­ing details again in the last few months at exhib­i­tions and while walk­ing in nature: Frog spawn in a pond, shapes of house facades, flower stalks or a fabric pat­tern in an old paint­ing. A cre­at­ive work­shop with me and my ideas is the first step.”

And there is the dream of a trip to Japan. The per­fec­tion­ism and ded­ic­a­tion of the Japan­ese mas­ters to their work have long fas­cin­ated Ines. As a fan of Japan­ese fea­ture films, she has an idea of the soci­ety and cul­ture. But seeing everything up close, hiking in the moun­tains there, visit a Buddhist mon­as­tery - and eating many por­tions of her favour­ite Japan­ese food: noodle soup in all vari­ations. 

This is dif­fer­ent level of stim­u­lat­ing her senses and brings anoth­er happy smile to Ines' face.


Name: Ines Lang

She is:

a ceram­ist

She likes:

a Cap­puccino in the morn­ing,  driv­ing her scoot­er - Septem­ber this year on Elba, to view the 'Cul­tures of the world' at the Rauten­strauch-Joest-Museum 

She admires:

Louise Bour­geois (artist) and Martha Cooper (photo journ­al­ist) and women, who assert them­selves in typ­ic­al male occu­pa­tions

like: being a racing car driver or a fire woman 

Her WIASOLA Advice:

"Trust your­self, take a risk and don't meet the expect­a­tions of others."

Her 5 favour­ite songs:

  • Oscar Peterson 'Geor­gia on my mind' 
  • Celeste 'Hear my voice'  
  • Paolo Conte: 'Via con me' 
  • Dave Brubeck 'Take five'
  • Skunk Anan­sie 'Hedon­ism'

To be found under:

Ines favour­ite piece:

If you want to get an insight into the work pro­cess of Ines than have a look:


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