Claire Ellis is a Canadian-born ceramic artist and designer primarily based in Naarm (Melbourne). Whereas working as a chef at one of many world’s finest eating places in Naarm, Attica, Claire started making tableware for the tasting menu and created a ceramics studio throughout the restaurant. Claire left Attica to deal with ceramics full-time in April 2021.
Inform me somewhat bit about your childhood, training, and background by way of the way you first turned fascinated with creativity, design, and sustainability.
I grew up alternating between Ottawa and Winnipeg in Canada as a part of a inventive household. At numerous deadlines, my mother had her personal stitching firm and labored as an artist utilizing oil pastels. My dad constructed plenty of fascinating issues as a interest. Most memorably, after taking a welding course, he constructed my youthful brother a go-kart out of elements from a treadmill he discovered along side the street. My stepmom is a cellist and my sister studied structure earlier than turning into an artwork trainer. After graduating highschool, I studied culinary arts and later moved to Australia for extra expertise. I used to be shocked by the quantity of waste in lots of eating places. I ended up at Attica in Melbourne the place my casual ceramics research on my days off alongside my involvement in menu planning conferences led me to create customized tableware for the tasting menu. My experiments utilizing waste supplies in ceramics started with eggshells and glass from the restaurant.
How would you describe your mission/product?
Solace Containers are wheel-thrown recycled clay vessels, glazed utilizing eggshells because the supply of calcium, lined with swimming pools of recycled glass and completed with lids comprised of recycled plastic clay luggage. The lids on the minimalist kinds characteristic swirls of colour which come from the coloured print on the plastic luggage that are kneaded, twisted, and stretched like pulled sweet earlier than being pressed into sheets.
What impressed this mission/product?
Solace Containers have been impressed by my experiments utilizing waste in my two workplaces; kitchens and ceramics studios. I wished to determine methods to use supplies out there in my surroundings that might in any other case get thrown away or shipped some other place. Partly out of a sense of duty but in addition as a result of I discover it thrilling to make use of native supplies which have significance for me. The identify of the containers got here from my expertise with local weather grief and my want to deal with options.
What waste (and different) supplies are you utilizing, how did you choose these explicit supplies and the way do you supply them?
The clay for the containers is reclaimed from my follow. I accumulate clay luggage from my native ceramics group, the plastic provides up shortly and ceramicists are very glad for me to take it. I supply wine bottles and eggshells from eating places. Glass is made from an identical recipe to ceramic glazes and eggshells are calcium carbonate which is identical chemical compound as one of many frequent (mined) uncooked supplies in glazes. The opposite glaze supplies used for the Solace Containers are talc, kaolin, and nepheline syenite that are all mined derivatives of rocks. With extra testing, I intend to interchange these virgin supplies with waste from different industries.
When did you first turn out to be fascinated with utilizing waste as uncooked materials and what motivated this determination?
The primary waste I turned fascinated with utilizing was meals waste whereas I used to be working in kitchens. I noticed bins overflowing with the very best produce within the nation in some locations, however in different places, I noticed how consciousness and creativity might resolve these issues and alter the way in which individuals checked out off-cuts or by-products. I’m impressed to do the identical. In my ceramics follow working with waste requires plenty of further monotonous and time-consuming bodily labor to course of the supplies, however as a result of the work feels significant, I discover it simpler than doing extra easy jobs that don’t align with my values.
What processes do the supplies should endure to turn out to be the completed product?
The eggshells are dried, fired in my kiln to purify the calcium carbonate, floor in a pestle and mortar, after which handed by a fantastic sieve. The glass is smashed with a hammer after the labels have been eliminated and the shards are positioned within the base of the raw-glazed containers earlier than firing. To make the lids, the clay luggage are washed and dried and any tape is eliminated. The labels are then lower off and separated by colour. Bundles of the plastic luggage are melted in an oven, kneaded, stretched, and twisted earlier than being pressed into sheets. The lids and handles are laser-cut, polished, and hooked up collectively.
What occurs to your merchandise on the finish of their life – can they return into the round financial system?
I provide restore and recycling companies inspired by reductions for merchandise on the finish of their life. The recycled plastic lids could be polished or recycled into new lids. Damaged ceramic parts could be repaired utilizing Japanese kintsugi strategies, and ceramic items past restore could be crushed into grog that I take advantage of to make clocks.
How did you’re feeling the primary time you noticed the transformation from waste materials to product/prototype?
I used to be so excited. I didn’t know if any of my materials exams would find yourself being profitable. Particularly, the exams with eggshells and plastic took plenty of tweaking and troubleshooting which made it so rewarding after I noticed every little thing come collectively for the primary time. The Solace Containers have come about from slowly placing collectively items of a puzzle one after the other. Discovering each bit has been a thrill.
How have individuals reacted to this mission?
When individuals see the Solace Containers for the primary time, they’re stunned concerning the supplies and curious concerning the processes. They count on the lids to be made from resin or stone. I’ve had some actually encouraging responses, particularly from different ceramicists who’re grateful and delighted to see one thing inventive being performed with the clay luggage. A bonus for me has been assembly different makers by the bag collections, which have was a beautiful community-building alternative.
How do you’re feeling opinions in direction of waste as a uncooked materials are altering?
I believe opinions are altering loads by conversations that recommend that we discover a higher phrase for waste and what that suggests, for instance your thought-provoking podcast episode with Seetal Solanki. It’s thrilling to think about a time once we all see waste as a useful resource and it will get referred to as one thing else as a result of we cease losing it. Hopefully, we get to that place shortly.
What do you assume the long run holds for waste as a uncooked materials?
I believe waste will finally get a reputation change and can turn out to be a extra mainstream materials. I believe there will probably be laws sooner or later on utilizing unsustainable uncooked supplies and it’ll turn out to be the norm to make use of waste or biodegradable supplies. I believe youthful generations particularly will focus extra on fixing these issues and over time recycling and upcycling will preserve getting simpler, extra environment friendly are extra accessible. I additionally assume there will probably be extra BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals in management positions who will speed up optimistic change on this area.