An interview with Stine Dulong of Skandihus
I originally wrote this for Table Magazine, a beautiful bi-annual publication that celebrates the people shaping our food culture. It really is special. You can read more of our work or buy a copy here. . You can find the original version with images in the I met Stine a few months ago. I’d ordered one of her plates online and noticed that the studio wasn’t far so opted to pick it up rather than have it sent. I remember thinking I’d probably be about twenty minutes. I ended up staying for almost two hours. We drank cinnamon tea from handle-less mugs which I hugged with my February frosted hands and chatted about craftsmanship, about how it feels to actually make something with your hands, about love, about hurt, about the hustle and bustle of the city and in true London spirit - about the weather.
I’ve been back to the studio many times and each time I visit I am lifted by a sensation I can only describe as ‘brightness’. Light floods the room through large white wash framed windows that make up one wall of the studio. Plants and succulents hang from the ceiling in handwoven, macramé baskets. The baskets were actually made by Lorna Rose a friend of Stine’s They did a swap with Stine making a few plates in return. It’s one of the best things about “working in this field” Stine says. Not just the crafty swaps but the “likeminded people you meet”.
Before this Stine was a lawyer. She practiced for five years before deciding it wasn’t for her. It was then that she decided to take up evening pottery classes at a studio called ‘Turning Earth’ in North London. She found herself spending more and more time there and realised that this – “this was what she was meant to be doing”. She remembers eating “lots of avocados and cottage cheese on fresh Turkish bread from the bakery that was around the corner. Simple food and lots of coffee.”
In 2016 Stine moved into her own studio, where we are now. Her days start softly and she describes her routine as “nature first in the morning”. Usually this means a walk in Walthamstow forest with her loyal companion, Alfie the Labrador. Nature is what inspires most of Stine’s work. She shows me a recent series of work called the ‘mushroom series’ inspired by a wonderful mushroom she found in the forest. I earmark a large wavy edged platter from the ‘mushroom series’ imagining how pretty it would look filled with lemons.
nb. said platter now sits on my kitchen table usually holding lemons
Breakfast is usually yogurt with fresh berries, nuts and seeds. Lunch is leftovers from the night before. Today it is roasted peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes and pan fried halloumi.
‘I like good coffee’ Stine says. She gets hers from the Tin Café on the Kingsland road. A wonderful place with a rickety front door where they serve coffee in Skandihus cups. Occasionally Stine will treat herself to something sweet from the De Beauvoir deli down the road. “I love everything in there” she says and we agree that they do very good brownies.
But it is the pastry Stine misses the most from home. Home is Denmark, “although London feels like home now too”. But it is where the rest of her family still live. Although our efforts are worthy she has yet to find a Danish pastry or Wienerbrod as she calls them in London that lives up to those at home. She describes another very Danish pudding that takes her right back to her childhood – Koldskål. “Its probably the most traditional summer dish you can have”. It translates literally as cold bowl and is made with buttermilk, yogurt, sugar and vanilla. “There isn’t really anything like it here but it really is delicious”’ she says “we eat it with fresh strawberries and little biscuits”. The biscuits are called Kammerjunker and are always very small and crisp, usually flavored with lemon or cardamom.
Stine grew up in Hellerup a town just north of Copenhagen. Her father is an artist and her sister is a jeweler. It was a crafty household. She remembers helping her father build the play house out in the garden and giggles to herself as she reminisces about the time when he “covered the whole of the basement in bubble wrap and let us jump up and down and bounce off the walls”.
Food was something she came to love later in life and for Stine is very much connected to self love, grounding and rooting with the earth. Her mothers cooking “wasn’t the best” she says “Now this is a funny story”...
“All my life I believed I didn’t like mashed potatoes until one day when I was about twenty-three I ate them with a new boyfriend. I loved them!” When Stine called her mother to tell her that she had a new boyfriend and that she now “loved mashed potatoes” her mother told her that she’d always blended liver into her potatoes. “‘It was good for you’ she told me but no wonder I didn’t like them!” she laughs.
Almost all of her crockery at home is hand made, either by her or fellow ceramicists. “It’s a very friendly world and most of us support each other.” None of the pieces match and are usually seconds or experiments from the studio. “Don’t ask me how I made half of them – I wont remember.”
I think about how satisfying it must be to eat off a plate you made. “It is even better seeing other people eating off them” she says. Stine’s plates can be found at some of London’s most prestigious sites including Liberty London, The George Mayfair and Carousel. Nigella Lawson, Tom Kerridge are also huge fans. You can find her work on http://www.skandihus.co.uk/ and can book into pottery classes too.