Think of Singaporean contemporary potters and high chances are you would have thought of Omelet Trees Studio and their clean distinctive line of tableware. Our very first encounter with them was way back in 2017 at The Local People's art market under the West Coast viaduct (talk about unconventional spaces) where we just ogled at all their work. There weren't many local potters back then, so it was very refreshing to see new faces!
Some of their older work in their home studio
Making full use of the residual warmth from the cooling kiln to speed up the drying process of these catchall dishes
Coming full circle, for the first maker spotlight of 'Eat & Sip goes local', we finally reached out and got in touch with Nigel and Sarah, the husband-wife duo behind Omelet Trees Studio.
the Tableware Curators (TC): Hi guys, nice to finally meet you! Can you give us a short introduction about yourselves and your background with ceramics?
Omelet Trees Studio (OTS): Pottery has never been foreign to us. You can say that we grew up with it, having played with clay since we were 10. But we got really serious about it sometime in mid-2016 after a series of wheel-throwing classes. The situation escalated quickly and before we knew it, we had plaster boards, bags of clay, an electric wheel, glazes, and a kiln in our tiny home studio.
OTS's home studio in a spare bedroom. Due to space constraints, the wheel has to be backed up against the wall when the kiln is firing.
Most of their work are hand-thrown on the electric wheel
Greenware waiting to be trimmed
TC: You guys definitely have a lot of passion for pottery! What makes you love pottery so much? And are there any parts which you dislike?
OTS: The challenges and possibilities are endless. There is just so much to learn! Also, we love the fact that it's one of the oldest crafts in the world. The part that gets us the most is the fact that many times things don't work as they should, but that's just life, isn't it?
Their private miniature vessels collection
"Sample cups that never really took off because of various glaze problems and issues with form." - OTS
A one-off sgraffito bowl that they experimented with
TC: Many artists dream of having their own studio. We know that you started off with a home studio and are now working from a bigger workspace. What are the benefits and drawbacks of working from a home studio?
OTS: Having a home studio means being able to work flexibly without the strain of travelling, but it also means that we need to maintain an extremely high standard of cleanliness. Because we started out this way, we've learnt to work very cleanly. That really helps with the processes overall.
Of course, this then means that working in an external studio has everything inverted: travelling becomes an added restriction but it also translates to more space and a greater margin for dirt and dust!
Also, transporting wares to and fro from a kiln located at an external venue, before we got out own kiln) is just too nerve-wrecking. We tried it once and gave up!
The communal front-loading kiln in their new workspace is able to accommodate a lot more pieces.
TC: Your products have a certain distinctive style. What is the inspiration behind your ceramic line?
OTS: Our work is largely inspired by feelings of serenity and calm, which serve to be deliberate beacons of clarity in our fast-paced society.
TC: Looking at your designs got us real intrigued on your creative process. Do you draw out your designs first or get straight to the wheel?
OTS: Yes, most products begin with a few sketches. But the designs take on a life of their own once they are realised in clay. Sometimes what is created in 2D doesn't directly translate to 3D; modifications and improvements are always in the pipeline.
Freshly thrown stoneware dimple cups
Trimmed, and already with the dimple, just waiting to be stamped.
Glazed before its last and final firing
The final product, dimple cups, in their new glaze colour.
TC: It looks like most of your products are wheel-thrown. Do you have a preferred pottery method?
OTS: We work mostly with white stoneware and we usually fire to a Cone 6. Almost all of our items start out as a lump of clay on the electric wheel, but of course, some other elements are necessary to achieve the final product. Other than that, there isn't a specific method we work with, clay is simply too versatile to remain with one method of work.
Their porcelain flow series that will be available at our open studio
WIP hand-carved pleats shell bowl. OTS got the inspiration for this design from seashells!
TC: Okay, last words. We know a lot of Singaporeans who can't understand the idea of paying $30-40 for a handmade mug (especially with IKEA and Daiso selling them for a couple of dollars). How would you convince them otherwise?
OTS: We don't, or rather, we can't - as a single entity. The movement towards appreciating the handmade needs to be a whole-of-society approach. Mechanical reproduction proliferates the ceramic industry, and uniformity has become the norm. To break out of the norm, we would need all of us to persist in preserving and promoting the handmade.
Eat & Sip goes local!
Some of Omelet Trees Studio's pieces are available at the Eat & Sip studio from 30 November to 15 December 2019. The studio will be open 4 - 9pm on weekdays and 11am - 8pm weekends during those dates. Swing by to check out products by Omelet Trees Studio and other local makers!
PS. Most of the pictures used in this article were taken by Omelet Trees Studio.