If you’re looking for a new creative outlet in Saigon, a sweet little oasis to explore for an afternoon, or a unique and stylish handmade piece of pottery to add to your decor, look no further than Hey Camel Ceramics.
Tucked away at the end of a quiet alley in D3, plants and wall hangings adorn the sunny storefront, with an open working space tucked eloquently behind the entrance. The first time I stepped into this warm and peaceful space, sharing a cup of tea with owner Leandro, it was easy to see why it was such a hidden gem amongst the chaos of Saigon.
Leandro’s unique handmade pieces are a reflection of the things that inspire him as he travels. Hailing from the Canary Islands in Spain, where he studied art and photography, the influences of European and Southeast Asian culture are prevalent in his work. His pieces range from tea cups with cultural symbolism embedded within, or incense holders pressed by ornate stamps, to miniature houses inspired by old Hoi An architecture. Elegant and minimalistic, you’ll be able to find anything to fit your ceramic needs here.
Hey Camel Ceramics began out of Leandro’s living room in his cosy District 3 apartment, until a bigger demand for his work and an increasing audience of followers requested to learn from him. From there, Leandro decided it was time to take his brand to a new home – his now cosy studio space at 116/19A Tran Quoc Toan Street.
He offers classes and workshops on the weekends for only VND450,000, including all materials. A basic course lasts about two hours, and he works one-on-one and in small groups, focussing on hand-building and basic techniques in case you want to try your hand at making your own decor pieces, or craft the perfect gift for someone special.
Hey Camel’s work is constantly growing, and a visit to his new sun-kissed space exhibits all of the changes on a weekly basis. Upon entering, a sense of peace abounds. The floor-to-ceiling shelving in the back area, as well as the tables showing off the intricacy of his designs, stand as showcases for the rotation of his finished pieces as well as those still in the works.
Leandro is most excited about the new month, as he is importing a new kiln especially for his and his customers’ pieces. Everything will be fired and finished at the studio, adding to the charm of a completely do-it-yourself experience. Keep an eye on this space, and do pay it a visit soon, as exciting things are always happening at this gem in District 3!
Adina Weinand is an arts educator. Check her classes at: facebook.com/saigonleatherworkshop.