Recently a group of my friends and I did a pottery course, and let me tell you it was hard. Our initial excitement, the obligatory Ghost references, and ambitious goals of making an entire dinner set quickly faded, and were replaced by a random cluster of wonky salt dishes and vases, the type you would possibly give your Mum, but would never consider giving to a friend. It’s not surprising that I’ve since developed an even greater respect for ceramicists, and especially so for 24-year-old potter Ruby Pilven.
Working out of her studio in Smythes Creek just outside Ballarat, Ruby makes her range of hand built ceramic and porcelain jewellery, vases, and homewares using coloured clay with gold lustres. Ruby comes from a family of potters, her parents Jane and Peter Pilven are local respected ceramicists in the community, and Ruby now shares their studio. ‘I’ve always been surrounded by ceramics in some way, whether it was playing in the studio, watching my parents making pots, attending exhibitions or visiting fellow potter friends,’ says Ruby.
Graduating from a double degree at Monash University in Visual Arts and Business, Ruby says the course had the best of both worlds, as she was able to practice her art while develop marketing skills to promote her fledging homewares business. ‘Once I completed my degree, I participated in a few group exhibitions and explored different methods of making my work,’ says Ruby. ‘It was during this time that my new colourful jewellery and homewares range was born.’ Ruby has been steadily working on this range for the past three years, has gathered an impressive list of national stockists, and is currently working nearly full-time in the studio. ‘I’m in heaven,’ she says.
Ruby’s work references a Japanese pottery technique called Nerikomi, which means to hand build with coloured clay. She builds all of her pieces using porcelain and stoneware clay bodies, flattens the clay on a slab roller, then sculpts them into the desired form, while integrating colourful patterns and gold lustres. Influenced by her Mother’s use of colour and her Father’s gold lustre work in the 1980’s, and numerous ceramic artists including Sony Manning and David Pottinger, Ruby says her greatest thrill is when the final patterns in her works are revealed after firing. ‘There’s an element of surprise every time’ Ruby admits.
This year Ruby plans to expand her ceramics range, exhibit her work and save up for her long awaited 2016 pottery voyage! ‘I can’t wait for my pottery nerd adventure in 2016 to the UK, where I will make a pilgrimage to St Ives to visit The Leach Pottery and the Victoria and Albert Museum’ says says.