Ever dreamed of a major career change? Well do we have some serious inspo for you?! Magic Maker, Ella Reweti ditched an established career in academia to plunge her hands into ceramics. Just a few years later, Ella's signature work is being showcased in Melbourne Design Week, all while we keep pestering her for restocks!
And wanna know something even cooler? She did this all while being a new Mum! Talk about one inspiring woman! We talked to Ella about work, life, and Radio National.
Our Series is called 'Meet the Maker.' Ella Reweti, what do you make?
I make sculptural slipcast ceramic vessels, planters and tableware.
Image by Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files
Please tell us about your journey into ceramics! Did you study? What drew you into creating your beautiful pieces?
I studied for a long time - around ten years altogether - but not ceramics! I have a bachelors degree in journalism, and a post-graduate degree in anthropology. I got about two years into a PhD in the latter when I finally realised maybe the academic life wasn’t for me. When I stopped studying I got some casual work through a friend as a studio assistant for a ceramicist which I ended up doing for about three years. Eventually I got time to develop my own work when I took time off to have my son Hemi. Bit by bit, I made work in the backyard while he slept (which I still do!), and eventually came to the refined collection of work that you now stock at Makers Mrkt!
You use slip casting to create your signature shapes and lines. Please tell us about this process.
The slipcasting process uses a liquid form of clay (‘slip’) which is poured into plaster moulds. The plaster absorbs the water from the slip leaving behind a layer of hardened clay (the cast) in the shape of the mould. I was drawn to this technique because I’m really interested in clean, architectural forms that you can’t achieve on the wheel, and I don’t have the patience for hand building!
We love your beautiful palettes. What role does colour play in your designs?
In my mind, the colours of my palette draw from a quintessentially Australian palette and their names represent this: Bluegum, Saltlake, Limestone and Wheat. But the colours are achieved by using natural oxides that come from the earth, giving them a soft, naturalness that I think is pretty universal.
What does a typical work day in the life of Ella Reweti look like?
I’m generally in the studio from Friday through to Monday, when my son is either in daycare or with my partner. On these days I’ll usually do a round of ‘pours’ at home in the morning before heading into the studio mid morning. I try to time my kiln firings to make the best use of my four days as each one takes about 24 hours, so I’ll get a bisque in on Friday, out and sanded on Saturday, glazed and back in on Sunday, and out and finished on Monday… if all goes to plan. Which it often doesn’t. In between doing that I’m making glazes, packing orders,
The rest of the time I have my son, so days are a little different, but the minute he’s down for his nap I’m outside making things and getting them ready to take to the studio.
Please tell us about your studio/work space. What do you need around you to thrive?
I have a backyard space at home in Northcote and a studio space in Preston and I love them both. I love the convenience of being able to make at home, and being outside is nice when the weather is good (and it’s easy to clean!). My studio is also great because it’s separate from home life and I’m probably more productive there. It’s also great to be around other makers and grown ups in general.
I don’t need much other than my materials, but it’s good to have something interesting to listen to, especially if I’m by myself all day. I’m an avid Radio National listener, maybe their biggest fan, I love it, always something interesting on, and that definitely helps me get in the zone.
Running a business is a great leap in a creative’s journey. What have you learnt and what keeps you motivated in your day to day?
Biggest lesson is that it will literally take up all of your time if you let it, there’s always something that needs doing, an email that needs replying to, invoices to be sent, materials to buy… the biggest business challenge for me currently is making time to experiment and play with new ideas so I’m not just stuck in the rut of making the same things over and over. This is definitely something that needs to be factored into the day to day because it’s a huge motivation!
Image By Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files
What piece of advice would you give emerging creatives who might want to start their own business?
I learnt this one from Kelly (MM founder), who in turn learnt it from her business mentor and I just think it’s so valuable… don’t spend money on anything that isn’t an absolute necessity! As creatives it’s easy to get swept up in making our spaces pretty or buying a bunch of materials for projects that still live in our imaginations, especially once there’s a bit of cash flow to play with. Really think about what you’re using your business income for, and whether it will help the business grow in the immediate future.
The Makers' Mrkt Community can’t get enough of your planters and and vases. What are your favourite plants to style them with?
Succulents are probably my go to because they’re such low maintenance and there’s such a huge variety. I love a Rhipsalis. I also love ferns but they’re the opposite, and I can’t keep them alive to save myself.
Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files
What are some of your goals for 2021?
Make new work! Hopefully hire some help so that I can do it.
Anything exciting the Makers’ Mrkt community should know about?
I’ve got some work in an NGV design week group show opening at the end of the month called Brave Blooms curated by Tracy Quertier. It’s my first time being a part of anything like it, and there’s so many amazing artists participating so it’s a real honour to be included. I’m madly trying to hustle out some new forms and colours for it, so fingers crossed everything goes smoothly!