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Inspired by her travel experiences and driven by an innate need to create from simple materials, Teresa has explored many creative avenues before launching her porcelain homewares and accessories brand, The Intrepid Potter.

16 April 2021

Designer Spotlight: The Intrepid Potter

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Potter, traveller, and explorer of makerly pursuits, Teresa: ‘I make by hand because it is an act in creating an item from some basic materials. In my class, a lump of clay.’

I’m Teresa Ferro, a team of one, behind the brand The Intrepid Potter. It’s an emerging small home-based studio located in eclectic Brunswick, Melbourne. I design and make porcelain pieces for the home (coasters, bowls, pots, plates, spoons and sculptures) and to wear (jewelry and buttons).

A selection of Teresa’s rustic hand-built porcelain plates, bowls, spoons and coasters featuring intricate patterns of blue and red.

I’d say I have been evolving over time from making being my passion (many hobbies) to my purpose (a business). Having worked full time on IT projects, with a strong focus on analytical skills, I’m now working part time so I can pursue the next phase in living a creative life. And, in time, to restart my travels that inspire what I design and make.

Teresa at work applying patterns to a porcelain platter in her home studio-come-garage; ‘I have been evolving over time from making being my passion (many hobbies) to my purpose (a business)’

Making by hand is also in my blood. My parents were both tailors, as was my maternal grandmother. A few years back I researched my family tree and found I came from a line of weavers. It explains why there has always been a deep-seated yearning to make by hand.

Inspired by her travel experiences and driven by an innate need to create from simple materials, Teresa has explored many creative avenues before launching her porcelain homewares and accessories brand, The Intrepid Potter.

My family and friends are important to me. It is another reason why I started to make - so I could give unique handmade items. They have been a great support on my creative journey especially those who are on their own creative journeys.

Teresa hand-painting underglaze designs onto a porcelain pot; ‘There has always been a deep-seated yearning to make by hand’

I’ve been selling on Madeit Australian Makers’ Village for just over six months and the social media support from the Madeit community has been great. It’s been a thrill selling my products online during the COVID lockdown, especially to Australian customers -although that hasn’t stopped a UK customer buying from me for a friend in Australia. So it is great to see the reach of Madeit. I chose Madeit because it is Australian owned and run and that all the artists are from Australia. It’s right that there is an Australian selling platform to reach local customers for those selling as a hobby, starting out or with an established business.

Teresa at work in her home studio-come-garage, looking out over her front garden and the leafy Brunswick street beyond; ‘My space isn’t a dream workspace but it’s a dream to now have the dedicated space and time to make!’

I create at home. I have two designated spaces - a spare room where I design and plan, and a pottery studio - aka the garage which I share with my car at night! - where I make my pieces. My space isn’t a “dream” workspace but it’s a dream to now have the dedicated space and time to make!

Tools of the trade; Teresa’s garage wall is lined with shelves or art supplies, pottery and etching tools, and snippets oriental lettering and imagery that inspires her creative work’

I’m inspired by making by hand in many forms and practices – drawing, stitching and print-making. Often it is when I’m working on a project that ideas arise for a piece of pottery whether it’s a new colour to try, pattern or shape. As mentioned previously, travel plays a large part in defining the pieces I make. I’m inspired by the sights & sounds experienced to the pieces I’ve bought as souvenirs.

Teresa’s hands pressing a cutting ring into a flattened disc of porcelain clay; ‘I chose to work in clay because it is three dimensional and I like to get my hands into the work’

I chose to work in clay because it is three dimensional and I like to get my hands into the work to shape the form. My clay of choice is porcelain because of its fine quality and the white surface is the perfect canvas to make my mark on.

A apron-clad Teresa rolling out a piece of porcelain in her home studio; ‘A plate, bowl or platter starts out with a piece of porcelain rolled flat like a pizza dough’

The first step in creating a piece is making the form or shape. A ‘flat’ piece such as a plate, bowl or platter starts out with a piece of porcelain rolled flat like a pizza dough. The shape is then cut out of it using a cutter or knife. Where the piece requires some shaping, such as a bowl, the cut porcelain is in a mound. My pots require a different technique altogether. I make these by hand using the Japanese method called Kurinuki. The method involves carving out the inside of a solid ball of porcelain. It is both a sculptural and contemplative way to make pots.

Rolled, cut, dried and fired platters on a table with an assortment of tools and glazes, waiting for the next step in the creative process ; ‘Firing in a kiln…. Makes the porcelain hard and ready to apply my design’

The second step is fully drying the clay. The piece needs to dry slowly and evenly to prevent cracking. Not always an easy step as it’s dependent on the temperature and air flow. Once dry, I take the piece to be fired in a kiln at my local Brunswick pottery suppliers. Firing in a kiln (best described as a special very high temperature oven to cook clay!) makes the porcelain hard and ready to apply my design.

Teresa applies Japanese transfer designs to a fired porcelain piece’

I may choose to paint on my design using a brush and underglaze, or use a commercially available Japanese transfer design. This is where the magic happens, and I leave my mark! To give the porcelain its beautiful glassy finish and to ‘set' the design, there is a second firing.

Completed glossy blue and white floral porcelain coasters by the Intrepid Potter; ‘To give the porcelain its beautiful glassy finish and to set the design, there is a second firing’

I’m always on the look out to learn and explore ways of making and this is why I consider myself a bit of a workshop and course ‘junky’. I may not continue or pursue what I’ve learnt, but I believe it does provide the seeds of ideas.

One of 6 limited edition hand-painted etchings of a woman’s face; ‘Making has taken me down an eclectic creative path’

Making has taken me down an eclectic creative path in drawing, printmaking, painting, silver-smithing and textile design. In clay - especially porcelain - I have found a place to create beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces.

An assortment of patterned porcelain flower-shaped buttons by The Intrepid Potter’

Through practice and exploring techniques I’m on an adventure with my ‘P’ plates on. Hence, I named my business The Intrepid Potter.

Teresa reading in a bookshelf-lined corner of her home; ’I’m always on the lookout to learn and explore ways of making’

Melanie Falick’s book Making a Life explores making by hand and I quote from the introduction, a piece that sums up my love about handmade;

’there is something important, even urgent, to be said about the sheer enjoyment of making something exist that didn’t exist before, of using one’s own agency, dexterity, feelings, and judgment to mold, form, touch, hold, and craft physical material’ Melanie Falick in Making a Life, 2019 (p21)

Blue Florentine patterned hand-shaped porcelain spoon by The Intrepid Potter

I love handmade exactly because it’s made by hand. I grew up with beautiful tailor-made clothes and no one else had the same as mine. Mine were unique. I make by hand because it is an act in creating an item from some basic materials. In my class, a lump of clay.



Visit The Intrepid Potter to find more organic forms and intricate patterns in porcelain: theintrepidpotter

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