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Interview with Ceramist, Lerae

ceramist lerae lim

Lerae is a talented ceramist based in Singapore known for her beautiful handcrafted ceramic planters and tableware. Her minimalist inspired designs are created to perfection with her skilful throwing of artistic forms and shapes . We love her unique style especially in our signature bee-hive planters. Find out about her in our chat below.
Lerae @llerae.makes

How did you get started in ceramics? Tell us your story.
I started learning ceramics in 2015. Initially, I set out just to find a new hobby as I really enjoy being a complete beginner and learning new skills from scratch. There are so many different aspects to pottery, so I am able to continue taking lessons for a few years without ever feeling bored. Over the years, I have really grown in love with the craft and have decided to turn it from a hobby to a full-time job in 2020.

Any recent highlights to share?
A huge highlight for me would be having my own online webstore. It feels like an important milestone and I think it makes for a better shopping experience for my customers since they can now view a proper catalogue of products.

What would you think best describes your style?
I enjoy creating works with a muted palette but energetic forms.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw my inspiration from really anywhere. Besides using social media, I love to observe what kind of ceramics people actually use in their homes. If I do eat out, I pay attention to the kinds of tableware restaurants use.

Tell us more about the method, process and details when creating one of your planters? What are the pains and rewards?
There is usually an extended planning period at the beginning. For commissions, I love to involve my clients to get to know their vision and iron out the specifics like proportion and size, which I gather is pretty important depending on the type of plants intended for the planters. To create the planters, I throw and trim on the wheel. Next, the pots will be glazed and sent for firing.

It warms my heart to see beautiful plants housed in my planters! Nothing feels more rewarding than knowing the ceramics that I have created are being put to good use. On the flip-side, as the process can be tedious, it can be somewhat painful when things don’t go well and pieces have to be remade.

Plant FOLKS x Lerae handcrafted beehive planters
Plant FOLKS x Lerae handcrafted beehive planters

I think you can definitely find designs that are more unique if they were handcrafted as compared to mass-produced ones.
The Lerae X Plant FOLKS collection are all individually designed by us and you would not be able to find similar designs from fast retail shops. In addition, as each piece is crafted by hand, you can see differences in form or glaze across pieces, and this makes each piece more unique. Plus, handcrafted planters have a certain “warmth” to them when you know that each one has been carefully and painstakingly made by hand. 

lerae on fast retail & Locally handcrafted planters

Are handcrafted ceramic planters worth the price?
For sure! But it is rather subjective and whether the price is justified ultimately boils down to your lifestyle and what you care about. 

Tell us about a personal favourite planter (created by you).
A personal favourite of mine is the tripod planter – the feet are super cute! 

What materials most fascinates you when creating a work?
I am fascinated the most by glazes. There are many different combinations to work with, so the process of picking a glaze is never dull. In my opinion, it has as much impact as the form on the overall look of a piece.

plant folks x lerae ring planters
Plant FOLKS x Lerae handcrafted Ring planters

What does quality mean to you?
A well-made utilitarian ceramic product needs to have a good balance between functionality and aesthetics . Weight, thickness, form and food safety are all important considerations. If it is meant for everyday use, it should also feel comfortable to hold it.

Planter-wise, it needs to have a relatively high degree of porosity as compared to other forms of ceramics and be of a good proportion for whichever plant intended.

What is your favourite plant?
Tell us about the planter you would like to create for it?  My favourite plant is the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)because it is so resilient and refuses to die on me. When it outgrows its current pot, I am likely to make a terracotta one with a simple matte white glaze for it. 

ZZ plant loved by many for its easygoing nature and attractive glossy foliage

<Check out more of our ceramic planters handcrafted by Lerae on our web shop>

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Interview with Ceramist, Stefanie Ferguson

Stefanie Ferguson @Niefeceramics

We flag off our series on ceramist and artisans with Stefanie who is a talented hand-builder ceramicist from Sydney, Australia. Her handmade pieces are inspired by microbiology and geological formations of coastal and bush landscapes. Due to this, you will often see a little part of Australian’s landscape and culture in her planters. This influence and also her playful mix of glaze and colour defines a unique style in her planters and ceramics.

In the interview below, we have a chat with her to understand more about her inspirations, designs and of course, not forgetting, her favourite plant.

How did you get started in ceramics? Tell us your story.
I first got into ceramics when I was 16. I took a work placement at a local pottery studio. I went on to study sculpture at University and upon graduating from art school I got a job in the art world and I stopped doing my own art. One day whilst having lunch with a colleague, they told me I should try doing clay again. I decided to enrol into night classes and after a few months I set up my own studio at home and after a year I decided to set up my own brand and ever since then I have been making pieces.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I get my inspirations from Australian coral reefs and bushlands. 

What would you think best describes the style of your work?
My style is a mixture of cute, illustrative and coastal designs. 

What has been your highlight over the last year?
Finding my style evolved over the last year and becoming an Plant Folks artist were big highlights as well as pursuing sculptural pieces that have been well-received really made the year shine for me.

What is your process of creating one of your planters? What is the most difficult part?
I use ‘pinch and slab’ methods. It requires making a slab and once it’s hard enough, I cut and make the forms. The hardest part is the joining of the pieces and keeping the form so that it doesn’t leak. 

Which materials fascinate you the most?
The Raku process is an area of ceramics which I find so interesting. 
(Raku generally refers to a type of low-firing process that was inspired by traditional Japanese raku firing.)

Bottlebrushes plant pictures courtesy of wiki.

What is your favourite plant?
Tell us about the planter you will like to create for it?
In my garden, I love our jellybean succulents but in my local park, I love seeing the Bottlebrushes, they attract so much wildlife. I would love to create coral planters for the succulents and play, it could be an interesting mixture of forms.

Stefanie’s favourite planter was from her first sale.

Which planter from your collections is your personal favourite ?
My favourite planter was for my first Etsy sale. The shape was tall and narrow and the glaze came out beautiful. 

What does quality mean to you?
To me, quality means craftsmanship and a piece that will stand the test of time.

Tell us about a Plant Folk.
I love learning about the plants on Plant Folks so I regard myself as one but I would say my husband is a Plant Folk in a way, he has over 110 plants and volunteers as a gardener in our community. He constantly looks out for Monsteras and is studying their names.