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Studio visit: A quick peek into Kelly Murphy's studio

I think it's safe to say that most of you would know Australian maker Kelly Murphy by now. But if you've been hibernating and still don't, she is the maker behind the tableware line that has crazy yet aesthetically-pleasing colour combinations - way different from your usual plates and bowls! Check out her tableware collection here

Kelly Murphy handmade ceramics in SingaporeWe love her tableware line so much that we made a compilation of her works in a previous post but you can also let your eyes feast on her Instagram account as well. Hint hint: try and catch some behind-the-scenes footages on her IG stories, you're welcome!

Interestingly, Benna Co started from a curated vintage ceramic business. When her business grew, she realised that she couldn't keep up with the demand for vintage planters, so she decided to try her hand at making some! Soon enough, her tableware collection drew a lot of interest and Benna Co slowly evolved into a ceramic studio where most of her products are one-off ceramic pieces handmade by herself.  

Benna co pottery ceramics in SingaporeKelly still sells her vintage ceramics at markets - she alternates between them and her own handmade tableware line. Time to time, she mixes them up!

Benna co pottery ceramics in SingaporeOne way to spruce up your home's personality is with.. vintage and handmade home decor pieces!

Her handmade collection had us swooning over them for so long - a couple of months in fact, before we approached her! So when we first decided to head over to Victoria for a sourcing trip, both of us knew that we had to get Kelly on board. Thankfully, she could squeeze a small order for us even though it was on such short notice!

When we first met her in Victoria at the Emu Plains Market, our products were not ready yet so we made a visit to her studio the next day to pick up our loot. And, being the 'kaypoh' Singaporeans we are, we sneaked a peek around and saw a really interesting creative workspace of artists from different industries! 

Eat & Sip handmade ceramics field trip in Australia

Located in a one-storey industrial building in Brunswick, the creative workspace was a communal studio with a roomy cubicle for each artist. There were some makers in their cubicles doing woodwork and painting when were there.

Here are some snaps of her workspace and surroundings, enjoy! 

Benna co handmade pottery studioHer main work table with an organised shelf, full of ceramics at different stages

Hand-building is one of the method Kelly uses to produce her collection, where she pinches her cups, pots, and vases for that dimpled and irregular shape. Coupled with her really quirky glazes, each piece is definitely different from the next! 

Benna co handmade pottery ceramics studioBisqued pots and vases waiting to be glazed.

Kelly Murphy handmade pottery ceramics in SingaporeA close-up look of her organically shaped vessels - the clay retains the impression of her hand due to her hand building method.

Benna co hand made ceramics vases | Eat & SipVases basking on the window sill in her communal studio; one sitting atop a shelf at her work space

Benna co pottery ceramics studio | Eat & Sip field trip AustraliaPlates and bigger pots waiting to be glazed

A second method Kelly uses for her tableware is the slab method where wet clay is rolled out to an even thickness and then cut into its respective shapes. Her plates, dishes and wall hangings are made from this method. If you are interested on learning more about pottery methods, read our article here

Benna co pottery ceramics in SingaporeAfter the shapes are cut out, the edges are smoothened out with a wet sponge before it's left to dry and then, it goes through bisque firing.

Benna co pottery ceramics in Singapore
Work in progress for the components of the wall hangings. Later on, they will be glazed and assembled to form the completed wall decor.

For plates, the slabs are typically draped over anything you'd like it to take the shape of. Kelly mostly does hers in the regular circle and rectangular, and from what we have seen from her booth and Instagram, some oval and odd-shaped ones as well. 

Benna co handmade pottery ceramics in SingaporePlates at different stages. Left: Waiting for these 'chocolate' plates to bone dry. These plates will usually lighten as it loses its moisture. Right: Bisqued / fired plates are glazed/waiting to be glazed before it goes for its second and last firing.

Here's an interesting fact - most raw glazes will not turn out as what they initially seem after they are fired in the kiln. The heat of the kiln causes a chemical reaction in the glazes that will alter their appearance.

Australian Benna co pottery ceramics in SingaporeLooking more like a painter's work table

Also, depending on the other glazes that are present, each glaze will react differently to create these amazing abstract patterns. This unpredictability of the colour of the end product is one of the hallmarks of handmade ceramics!

Australian Kelly Murphy handmade pottery ceramics in SingaporeA 'before' and 'after' firing photograph of the same plate

Benna co handmade pottery ceramics in SingaporeA 'before' and 'after' firing photograph of another plate

"The kiln reaches 1280 degrees and turns that powdery mix of mineral elements into a molten mass that hardens to an impervious surface as it cools down.

Glaze recipes are a bit like cake batter recipes - they mostly have the same base ingredients, but the results are wildly different depending on your tweaks, additions and subtractions. In my practice I use many different glazes to produce endless variations where they overlap. There really is a lot going on!"

As a one-woman show, Kelly does everything from the making, packing, social media, and being 'on duty' at market. Throw in her 3 kids and we are floored at her amazing ability to juggle everything, and she seems to be doing such a great job!  

Unique Australian tableware pottery ceramics in singaporeHer plates being packed in preparation for a market and her market booth set-up

Unique tableware pottery ceramics singapore
Drove off into the sunset after picking up her pieces (: cheesy, we know!

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