Handmade and Hot: Gailan Ngan Pottery

Who are you and where is your workshop/store?

Gailan Ngan, potter.
My studio is on Hornby Island and my showroom is in my home in Vancouver. I sell my work at a few shops in Vancouver: Vancouver Special, Crafthouse and The Museum of Anthropology giftshop. I have a sale of pottery here in Vancouver twice a year.

How and why did you start your business?

Out of boredom- one Fall in my early twenties I began potting and learning how to throw from my father Wayne Ngan. I finished up at Emily Carr soon after I started my own studio in Vancouver.

Why do you hand make your products? What do you get out of it?

I do pottery because it is a creative process of making things in a field with endless possibilities. I can be the maker not just the business person behind the product. Every pot is different and took my labour to make it. It is a joy to make things and to be full of enterprise- thinking about what to make next and how to execute it.

How long does it take to make your pieces? 

Pottery is done in many stages so is very hard to quantify the time it takes to make one particular pot. From start to finish it takes a couple of weeks to make 100 pots or so.

What is your studio/work space like? 

My studio is part of my father’s larger studio complex. My studio is one room but equipped with wheel, pug mill, kiln and spray booth. I have an ocean view facing north and ocean breeze (in winter- gale force winds).

What new products do you have in mind for 2012?

Beads for bracelets. Have made some already and I am happy with the results. I found the right clay for them and can see using this clay for sculptures. Surface design with lots of drips, splotches and runniness. I am also experimenting with mid-range temperature ceramics. As well I have a new raw clay that I am using to good results.

How would you like your collection to grow? And where would you like to see it sold?

I like to dream about many prospective long term goals like expanding out into other media- kind of becoming a designer in multiple fields. Design rooted in art- where function is not necessarily the outcome. Sometimes I feel like opening my own studio/ shop here in Vancouver- a space were I can generate ideas and be open to creating whatever I want. I could see my pots being sold along with other objects and things like books and clothes.

What is the best thing about what you do?

The best thing about my job is the life it affords me and the daily creativity of work. It is an artist’s life of lower income but with much variety of schedule and always interesting new projects. Form creation is an integral part of what I do and is a joy to do.

Gailan Ngan
New Pots: Show and Sale

Thursday, June 21, 6-9pm
Friday, Saturday, Sunday
June 22, 23,24 12-6pm

The Commons
119b East Pender Street
Chinatown, Vancouver


Thanks Gailan for answering our questions and good luck with your upcoming show!
Tamra and Gwyn


  1. heather,

    Gailan’s work is always a treat to hold and use! Loving the new bracelets!!