How did you get into ceramics?
I have a background in industrial design and fine art jewellery but after getting cancer I wanted to use non toxic materials to make jewellery. So I started casting silver rings and make ceramic pieces as stones. I also realised cermaics allowed me to go bigger and use the mould making techniques I knew from industrial design. So I began making slip cast ceramic sculptures and functional wear.
We spent a bit of time during the development phase to create the burners, could you tell us a little bit about what inspired you during this phase?
I really enjoyed our collaboration because I always work in a bit of a vacuum. Having someone to bounce ideas off was great especially as we seem to have similar taste. There was a lot of trial and error as is my usual process but especially because I had to get the piece that holds the santo palo right. The wood comes in various sizes and the holder had to be heavy enough so it would not tip. Also the mid fires ceramic shrinks 13% so that’s tricky too. I do enjoy problem solving though.
Image source Monk House Designs. Captured by Gina Diggle
Could you tell us a little bit about the process of making the Palo Santo burners?
Many of my pieces start are sculptured from recycled polystyrene. It’s a very immediate process and allows me to come up with a form that then I use to make plaster moulds. Then liquid clay slip is poured into the mould and removed from mould. Then allowed to dry, bisque fired, glazed then final firing.
I know that being sustainability is a big part of your practice.How do you strive to achieve this when making ceramics?
I only fire to mid fire which uses so much less energy than stoneware fired ceramics. Any waste gets reconstituted. I only use polystyrene that is being thrown out. I also have solar panels to help reduce the electricity my kiln uses. I only ever fire a full kiln.
When do you like to light palo santo and use your burner, and do you have any tips?
I like to light palo santo just before doing yoga or meditation. I also light it in the evening or before a friend comes over when I want to set a calm atmosphere. If I want it burn for a little longer I light it from a candle and dip the end in wax.
A big thank you to Monk House Design for all of the imagery and to Kirsten Perry for her words.