Lovely Laura – that’s what I call her. No trip to Stellenbosch would be complete without a visit to Laura du Toit. A stone’s throw from the vineyards and restaurants; the tourists and Uni students, Laura lives quietly and comfortably in her modest home set in a pretty and leafy garden, with her studio attached. Signs of artiness are all around – paintings, books, ceramics and artefacts. Hospitality always comes first with Laura and before we get down to business, she always offers refreshment. Inevitably it is a warm summer’s day and she has often got a jug of her famous homemade lemonade to hand, which is both thirst-quenching and delicious. Then we knuckle down to a conversation about sizes, shapes, glazes and finishes.
Laura makes round, global pots, and she is consistently good at doing this speciality exceptionally well. Sometimes she extends the aperture into a funnelled neck. Favouring warmer colours, she sadly cannot replicate her earlier gorgeous red glaze anymore, but produces some scorching molten hot oranges and yellows. Cool blues and shades of green also feature though when the mood takes her.
Laura knows her pots intimately and a trawl through her collection is fascinating. They sit around her studio or on her dining table like planets. As she talks, she strokes and caresses each one, pointing out their beauty or their flaw as she sees it. She has a few favourites too, usually early ones, including the elusive reds, which she will never sell – and I can understand that.
I often name her pots, and the one which sticks in her mind was the ‘Circus’ pot, which was a lively combination of yellow, red and orange swirls. Laura does not produce a vast quantity of work, but her quality is superb. She is also reliable, a good packer, and very kind, as the inclusion of a small red pot as a gift a few years ago shows. It is a pleasure to work with her, and long may we be able to do so.