Every now and again you find someone doing things a little differently - and you can't stop thinking about it. That's what happened when we first saw Ella Reweti's ceramics. The Melbourne-based ceramicist wasn't conforming to modern ceramic norms of soft colours and organic shapes - she was really pushing boundaries. We adore her Australian bush-inspired palette and her graphic silhouettes.
Ella Reweti Tall Tapered Vase and Skinny Stacked Vase
Ella's life in ceramics began almost ten years ago when she started making small pinch pots for her friend's nursery while studying anthropology. Eventually, she realised academia wasn’t for her and that she much preferred jobs where she can use her hands. So, about five years ago she began working as a studio assistant for other makers, then branched out on her own after developing her incredible range of corrugated planters and vases.
Currently, Ella makes her work in her small lean-to studio behind her home in Northcote, while her one-year-old sleeps. She then laboriously transports everything to her studio where she fires, glazes and finishes each piece. She admits it's an arduous process, but it means she gets to spend more time with her son during his early years.
We are fascinated by Ella's story and wanted to learn about her process and what makes her tick. So we sat down to find out more.
How do you like to spend your downtime?
My partner and I are both self-employed makers so ‘downtime’ is unfortunately not something we get much of, presently. Typically I look after our one-year old son during the week and on weekends I go into the studio. So we have a tag-team type situation happening at the moment, where one of us is almost always working.
We do try to make time at least once a fortnight where we are both at home, and not thinking about work - which is harder than it sounds, and a strange kind of guilty pleasure.
Down-time or not though, I love to cook and try to make sure there’s a yum homemade dinner on the table every night. If we go out to eat it’s almost always to our local Pho restaurant up the road called Bang Bang where they know us and our usual order, which I find comforting. Ultimately though, with a baby, my biggest pleasure at the moment is sleep (when I can get it).
Ella Reweti Tall Tapered Vase in Eucalyptus
What’s the favourite part of your home and why?
The kitchen is probably the favourite part of my home. We live in a rental so stylistically it’s certainly not my ‘ultimate kitchen’, but I’ve lived in a lot of share houses with terrible kitchens in the past and this one at least meets the criteria of being usable!
The kitchen is definitely where I spend most of my time and it's a place from which I derive a lot of pleasure by cooking and feeding my family. We are also fortunate enough to have a sizable yard with a veggie patch, lovingly tended to by my partner. It’s cold now so we can’t spend much time amongst it, but the window in the baby's room overlooks it, so it’s nice to sit on his couch with him and point out everything that we are growing.
Ella Reweti Corrugate Planter in Eucalyptus
What are three things you do to leave the earth in a better state than when you arrived?
I’ve always placed a lot of emphasis on conscious consumption in all facets of life, but having a baby has been a huge eye-opener! We transitioned to ‘modern cloth nappies’ when he was three months old and have never looked back. The slight inconvenience of having to wash cloth nappies is nothing compared to the eventual impact all of those disposable nappies heading to landfill. Single-use plastics (and plastic in general) and ‘fast fashion’ in the baby world is a whole other story! I always buy second hand where possible.
We also generally try to eat vegetarian meals throughout the week and buy ethically sourced meat from our local butcher when we do eat meat as a treat on weekends. I know some people find cooking vegetarian meals challenging as we are so used to meat being our main source of protein. But I’ve always thought vegetarians to be better cooks because it requires a little more thought. Cooking this way has definitely made me a better, more imaginative cook. I love going to the market with new ideas in mind - or better yet, basing my meals around what is in season!
Ella Reweti in her Melbourne studio
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
I’d probably say don’t bother with university, haha! Even though I spent over ten years studying various degrees in my twenties (first journalism and then anthropology) and even began a PhD at one point, I’ve never really used my ‘qualifications’ in any practical sense. So to that end, those could have been ten years better spent, I suppose. But it’s not really worth dwelling on. Ultimately everything I did in those years has led to where I am now, so it’s not that bad!
What is your superpower?
At the moment it’s definitely multi-tasking. Since the baby isn’t in childcare yet, everything is timed around his naps: cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, dog-walks… and my work. I’m often doing two or more of these things at once, while also entertaining a one-year-old once he wakes up. It’s stressful but satisfying (when it works!)