Alexandra Sinclair’s Pot Dispensary is an open kitchen of clay

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Alexandra Sinclair’s Pot Dispensary is an open kitchen of clay

Pot Dispensary
words by kaya martin

We spoke with the Chief Ceramics Officer about her unique business concept and the inspiration behind her work.

Pot Dispensary feels like an ode to ceramics. The sunny window is painted with outlines of china, and inside, the blonde wooden floors are dusted with a faint clay veneer that gives the space a certain softness. Glazed mugs, vases and incense holders are displayed in the front and a row of wheels sits in the back, prepped with sculpting tools and sponges. 

It’s not your usual Chapel St boutique – the storefront slash workshop hybrid is just as good a place to pick up a little gift for mum as it is to don an apron and get your hands dirty.

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From just stepping inside, you’d never guess that owner and Chief Ceramics Officer Alexandra Sinclair used to hate pottery. 

“I didn’t like it because I was very bad at it. It was hard; it was a lot of steps, she says. “It did not come naturally to me even slightly.”

Her introduction to ceramics came at a time when she was feeling disenchanted with her studies in interior architecture. She enrolled in a six-week pottery course with her brother’s girlfriend at the time, but it was far from love at first try.

“Absolutely hated it, vowed never to do it again, and then two months later I accidentally involved myself into a three year degree in Fine Arts Ceramics. And then I loved it.”

The storefront, which she opened just over three years ago, was the result of her newfound hobby. Not only did Alex need a place to work on her personal projects while finishing university, but she also wanted to be able to run classes and share the art of her friends and favourite artists. 

The vision for Pot Dispensary was to create a place where visitors could experience the whole journey of clay making, from cutting and prepping to firing and glazing. It was made to be open concept and multi-functional, a concept that was relatively new in the Australian pottery scene.

“You know when you go to a restaurant and you can see the kitchen in the back, you can see it being made?” says Alex. 

Since then, the story has expanded and Alex’s personal workspace is now tucked away upstairs. But visiting still feels like a farm-to-table experience. Spiced scented candles overlay the wet, minerally smell of clay. Large bags of clay sit in a stack waiting to be wedged; buckets of slurry rest in the corner. In the back, they even have their own kilns and a glaze lab. 

“What I like about the practice is that when you’re throwing it’s very easy to just misplace time. You just get into a flow state, it’s really easy and smooth…” she says, before laughing. “Let me retake that, because it’s not easy or smooth.”

She tells me the all-encompassing nature of the task makes it meditative. When she’s working, she has to stay focused, which means there’s no space to think about trivial thoughts or future plans. Even on days when she can’t afford to be distracted, she’s always got company: as we chat, Panda the border collie meanders around, chewing on a squeaky toy.

“If you’re having a hard day on the wheel, you’ll sort of see a pile of clay scraps. But it is really nice when you’ve got boards and boards of pieces that you’ve made that day, it’s really enjoyable.”

Alex just finished making a commissioned collection of mugs and saucers for South Yarra’s newly opened Campos Coffee, conveniently located just a few blocks up in the Prahran section of Chapel St. Snowy white and satisfyingly cylindrical, they are made from recycled clay, as are 80 per cent of the pieces she makes.


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“In some of the pieces that I dropped off at Campos, if you flip them over, there’s a little spiral of white clay in there because it’s sort of like a blend of two different clay bodies,” she says. “Recycled clay is sort of a process that every potter has to go through. All the ceramics that you have, you end up with some waste, and as long as it hasn’t been fired, you can just recycle it and recycle it indefinitely.”

The goal was to keep the design simple and functional, with a signature divot in the side to help it fit comfortably in the hand without burning the fingers. These days, when she finds the time for a break, she can stroll up the street and sip an oat latte from one of her own creations.

“As a creative, I’m definitely addicted to coffee,” she says. “Thank you university for that.”

To visit Pot Dispensary for yourself, head down to 425 Chapel St or check it out online here

This article was made in partnership with Campos Coffee.