I think we can all agree - pottery is a lifelong learning journey and there is just so much to learn whether you are new at the art or if you have 30 years under your belt! At Eat & Sip, we have always liked seeking out makers (regardless of experience) as each potter may bring about a different angle to the medium.
As usual, we were using our favourite potter-discovery app (aka Instagram) late last year when we stumbled upon local ceramicist Jenisse Lau's account. We got drawn to her miniature mugs series and got in touch with her. Here are nine questions we shot at her to get to know a bit more of her and her craft!
How did you get your start in ceramics?
I first picked up wheel-throwing as a hobby at first through a trial class. I then decided to continue on with some classes. We all know learning pottery is a steep learning curve and it could get discouraging especially in the initial phases. But slowly, I fell in love with the whole process of making pottery. There are just so many possibilities to explore and try out! I'm still not yet a full-time potter, in fact, I just started selling and accepting commissioned projects last year in 2020.
Do you work from a home or communal studio?
I work mostly from a communal studio, which also handles the firing for me. However, with a communal studio, some parts of the making process are less within my control. For example, the firing process and timeline, because I rely on the communal studio for it. So it is important for me to plan ahead, discuss and communicate with my studio regularly.
As a small batch artisan, how did the circuit breaker period last year affect your pottery work?
I was actually taking a break from pottery during the circuit breaker, as I had dislocated my left thumb and was recovering from surgery and occupational therapy, so I couldn't do pottery for around 7-8 months.
What do you think of the pottery community in Singapore?
It still seems quite hidden sadly in the sense that the appreciation of handmade ceramics is perhaps not as developed as in the Western countries. Also, it is quite hard to find some materials that I want to experiment with here in Singapore, and shipping them from USA is so expensive.
However, it seems like interest in pottery here generally is growing from the demand for trial classes that I see at pottery studios.
Is there a particular pottery technique that you enjoy working with the most?
I've mainly learnt wheel throwing techniques, which I really enjoy because the rhythm of the wheel is quite therapeutic for me. I've also explored pinching and hand building, but I still enjoy wheel throwing more! I would really love to learn the Kintsugi technique in the future, which is the repairing of broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with gold.
Tell us a little bit about your creative process. Do you draw out your designs first before working on the wheel?
Sometimes, I get inspiration when I'm not at the studio working on my pieces so I'll usually jot down brief notes with mental images in my mind. I’ve tried drawing out my designs first but it doesn’t really work for me. I've realised that I prefer hands-on exploration so usually I look at my test pieces for my creative juices to flow and then, I try it out on the spot.
For your latest series, what were you inspired by?
My inspiration for engraving personalised words into my pottery came from a mug that I saw when I was overseas in Taiwan many years ago. I personally believe that words are very powerful - they have the power to either build people up or tear them down.
"So the idea really sprang from a hope to use words to build people up and inspire hope and faith"
I really love nature too, so I love glaze combinations which reflect the ocean or the northern lights. I'm currently experimenting with more designs/colours for the northern lights!
Her ocean tripod pot can actually be balanced on its side, using just two of its feet.
Which other ceramicists do you follow closely?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
Honestly, I'm just taking it a step at a time. I'm just glad to be able to have this platform for my pottery pieces to bless others, and to continue making more pieces. What doors will open, will open at the right time.
You can check out Jenisse's products here. Enjoy the rest of the photographs!
Tumblers and mug from her marbled series. Love the shape of that mug!
The tripod pot, this time standing on all three legs!