Workshop and tools

The workshop was built by Isak Isaksson when he moved to Bergshamra, north of Stockholm, in 2017. Isaksson describes the workshop as being almost an extension of himself. “Everything is connected here: the earth, nature, the house, the sun, the fire, the clay and I.” The wooden building of 45 square meters contains three large electric kilns, all designed by Isaksson himself. Outside, protected by a roof and three walls, stand a gas-fired kiln and a wood-burning kiln. Important elements in the workshop include a potter’s wheel, clays of various kinds, glaze components, water, the glaze folder, a spinning plate for photography and filming of finished works, a computer, a scale, a radio. “I listen to music when I throw. To Vivaldi’s tones, the necks of the vases become higher,” says Isaksson.

Glazed samples and objects in different stages of completion stand on shelves all over the workshop. In a basket lies the schnauzer Zigge sleeping. “Entering the workshop in the morning is like putting on a favorite shirt. I just thrive. I get calm and focused as soon as I get in here. In the evening I think about what I did during the day. In the morning on what I should work with,” describes Isaksson. Every little space is used in some way. “It’s crowded and quite messy but I know exactly where everything is. I know the workshop as my own pocket. I have around 150 substances that I use for glazes, but when I mix, I just need to reach out and I can find the right jar without looking,” says Isaksson.
Isak Isaksson describes the hands as his most important tools; the hands throw, shape, adjust, mix, set, regulate. The hands know what to do before the head knows. Sometimes they are less sensitive and this affects the work: “If I have built or worked with coarse materials before I sit down at the turntable, my hands feel ‘unintelligent’ and numb.”

Isaksson’s turntable stands by a window in the workshop. It is electrically powered with a mechanic that makes it stop immediately when Isaksson releases the pressure on the accelerator pedal. “I have worked with different types of turntables but this is my favorite. The most common wheels continue to spin a few turns when you release the throttle, but it does not suit me. I want full control,” describes Isaksson. The most regularly used tools in the workshop feel almost like extensions of his own fingers.
The kilns have different sizes and are heated in different ways. The kilns inside the workshop are powered by electricity that is digitally regulated. “In my glaze world, there is a huge difference between 1280 degrees and 1285 degrees. The digital instruments are a condition for being able to work at an advanced level with crystalline glazes,” says Isaksson.

In the workshop there is a computer that Isaksson uses to calculate glaze recipes. In a glaze program, he enters ingredients to obtain exact measurements for the glaze mixture he wants to work with. A digital scale that shows gram weight to two decimals is another of Isaksson’s indispensable work tools in the workshop.

Reduction (oxygen extracted) firing in the gas kiln.