The heart and core of a Potter’s life is right in the pottery studio. This is where plans and experiments in clay and glazes are put into action. Last December, we have seen the workshop area of husband and wife, and Masters of PhilippinePottery, Jon and Tessy Pettyjohn. The brand new year brought us to Lanelle Abueva’s creative laboratory, where most restaurants from Manila, order their custom made utilitarian pieces.
Right after lunch, Lanelle, tours us to her workshop, where sixteen of her workers, get their hands busy in preparing slip cast molds, pouring slips, trimming, glazing and firing them. Lanelle leads the way from the cafe to her Ceramics lab.
Lanelle shares with us, how she started learning about Ceramics, which can be read on Part 2 of 6 of this article. Growing up beside a sculpture studio, learning how to make pottery in Japan, taking courses in America, has made her in becoming a businesswoman. A lot of factories in The Philippines who sell functional pieces have closed already. Her dream continues to stand until today in Antipolo City.
Inside the workshop, the process of slip casting Ceramics was explained to us. Slip is a similar material to clay in a liquid form. Its consistency is like thick cream which is poured into plaster molds that are pre-formed with plaster of paris. The plaster absorbs the moisture from the slip. After a few minutes, the slip that do not touch the plaster is poured out. Drying takes time depending on the weather. In our country, The Philippines, we experience hot and rainy days only. Pieces get dry faster on non-rainy days. It’s one of the best countries in Asia, to create Ceramics for mass production.
Her company produces hundreds and thousands of Ceramics for hotels, restaurants and resorts in The Philippines. Drawing them on a piece of paper helps the workers know what they have to create during production period.
Checking pots for quality control is one of the tasks that need to be done when producing pots in large amounts. Not all pieces make it through the test due to cracks while drying or glazing problems. These pots are not thrown away and they can be found in Lanelle’s sale room.
The challenges in making pottery without any defects is impossible. But this doesn’t stop makers in creating pots that can be used for food and drinks or for decorative purposes.
When I asked Lanelle, what advice she could share to us, she simply says, “Working with clay needs a lot of patience, experimentations and hard work.” She chose the perfect words in describing how to pursue one’s passion. This doesn’t only apply to working with Ceramics. It applies to life itself.
Impatience was a part of my life in the past and Pottery has helped me overcome losing all my patience at one time. Hard work should be intentional if we want to continue pursuing what we want in life. Rewards come in full through perseverance. Experiments take a lot of time and one can either quit or press on even more during the process. What do we choose? Lanelle Abueva has clearly shown us all that she surpassed all challenges in life and clay by combining all three important things.
See how Lanelle forms her clay with the potter’s wheel next!