Ella Bendrups

Today we visit an inspiring young creative who successfully changed tack, and is now focused on giving back.

Ceramicist and stylist Ella Bendrups invites us into her space at Melbourne’s Studio Local, taking us through her newest range of hand-crafted ceramics created using the ‘kurinuki’ clay carving technique.

Elle Murrell

A selection of various sized plates and bowls created through pinching or slumping soft slabs into moulds. Photo – Emily Weaving.

Melbourne ceramicist Ella Bendrups. Photo – Emily Weaving.

A Hewn vase in the making. Ella is carving the exterior of a new vase from a block of solid clay, once the exterior is finished, the piece will be left to harden for a few days before the interior is dug out. ‘These pieces highlight the maker’s marks on the clay, drawing out the texture of the base material, and are suitable for both functional and decorative use,’ she explains. Photo – Emily Weaving.

Ella’s inspiration board on display in her studio. Photo – Emily Weaving.

The ceramicist’s tools. ‘I poured small, deliberate ribbons of decorative glaze on the exterior of the form, allowing the surface texture of the clay to remain dominant,’ details Ella of her Hewn pieces. Photo – Emily Weaving.

Ancients Vase with Hewn pieces and sculptural trials in the background. ‘The surface texture of the vase was achieved by smooshing the wet clay with my thumb to create a weathered look,’ explains Ella. ‘I like that it almost looks as if it was discovered in an archaeological dig.’ Photo – Emily Weaving.

Ella in her space at Studio Local in Mebourne. Photo – Emily Weaving.

Hewn Vase, created using the kurinuki techinique, and featuring a vertical wave sliced into the front. ‘This technique allows you to capture frozen movements’ says Ella. Photo – Emily Weaving.

Ella’s Lunar Dinner and Side Plates. ‘One of my first designs, I still love the interplay between the milky glaze and chocolate clay body,’ she tells. Photo – Emily Weaving.

Elle Murrell
13th of June 2017

Ella Bendrups‘ interest in ceramics has been an organic evolution – from ceramics fan to ceramics student, and then onto building her own ceramics-based business over the past three years. The diligent 27-year-old studied Communication Design, Interior Design and Decoration at RMIT, before working as a stylist’s assistant. ‘This experience exposed me to many talented makers and inspired me to make pottery myself,’ says Ella, who subsequently honed her own skills through classes at Guild of Objects and Northcote Pottery Supplies.

After gaining confidence to explore her own personal style throughout 2015, Ella committed to her craft part-time in the spring of 2016. ‘I had received such positive feedback and encouragement from prop and food stylists, and others in the industry that I finally felt ready to put my work out there by launching an online store and selling at markets,’ the ceramicist explains. When she’s not making her own wares, Ella continues to assist stylists, such as Stephanie Stamatis. ‘I find that this helps spur on my own practice, as I am regularly exposed to some of the most talented people working in creative industries in Melbourne,’ Ella tells.

The level-headed young maker has recently been creating from a workspace at Studio Local in Northcote, where she has gained valuable experience and enjoyed the input from other residents. Ella also works from her little home workspace, hand-building and utilising pinching, as well as slab techniques. A prevailing colour palette of calm neutrals is considered, and employed to emphasise the texture and form of her ceramics.

On the other hand, the forms themselves emerge from more spur-of-the-moment decision making. ‘I have learned that I can best express myself through quick, yet decisive movements. I researched pottery pieces that I felt encompassed this spirit, and this lead me to the kurinuki,’ tells Ella, referring to a subtractive method where a solid block of clay is shaved and carved off to create a desired exterior form, much like working with stone. Ella has experimented with the kurinuki technique for her new series of Hewn Vessels.

Spurred on by the encouragement she’s received from other local makers, Ella is a community-minded maker. She has recently taken the leap into teaching, and is looking forward to sharing her craft through an upcoming series of workshops.

Ella Bendrups has teamed up with Stephanie and Sarah from Studio Local for a slab building Clay Study running on 17th of June. TDF readers who are interested in signing up can utilise the code TDFXCLAY. 

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