Giving shape to clay is Jacou Vettard, of Zazou Pottery, in Albert Town.

French-born Vettard had an interest in pottery from an early age, taking pottery lessons as a teenager but at first she felt it was not seen as a real job.

‘‘In France it was like ‘Oh it’s a hobby, it’s not a profession’.’’

She found a more supportive environment once she left France.

‘‘I decided to go travelling and ended up in New Zealand, and there was my opportunity to reinvent myself.’’

The attitude in New Zealand was ‘Yeah, go for it’, she said.

Her first pieces of pottery were ocarinas — flutes in the shape of birds.

‘‘They’ve got six holes so you can actually play music with those.’’

She then began to develop her craft, buying a wheel and kiln from a woman who had it as a hobby but did not want to do it anymore.

‘‘So I started with that.’’

Pottery was about being willing to develop and make mistakes, Vettard said.

‘‘I started small and it evolved a little bit by little bit.’’

Her interest in pottery began early.

‘‘I was always making things as a kid.’’

While travelling to places including Mexico, North America and Asia she was often inspired by potters.

‘‘Everywhere I was going I was getting pottery.’’

The mountains and lakes of the Upper Clutha were an influence for her, as well as some of New Zealand’s native birds, including tui and fantail (piwakawaka).

Bees, ladybirds, cats and poppies also feature in her pottery.

Painting her pieces, often using vibrant colours, is the part that takes some time ‘‘because I am a bit obsessive’’.

She is a regular at craft markets in Queenstown and Wanaka and also sells directly from her website.

Finding a creative outlet in New Zealand was ‘‘like an opening to the future’’.

‘‘In Europe, we are stuck in the past, so that was really what made me love New Zealand and want to stay.’’