Cre­ative col­lec­tion Meet the ce­ram­i­cist be­hind Rat­bag Stu­dios

CE­RAMIC ARTIST LARISSA WAR­REN COM­BINES DEL­I­CATE PORCELAIN WITH BURSTS OF SWIRLING COLOUR TO CRE­ATE EX­QUIS­ITE POT­TERY

Home Beautiful - - CONTENTS - WORDS JO HOBAN STYLING KYLIE JACKES PHOTOGRAPHY MINDI COOKE

ONCE A CE­RAM­I­CIST be­gins trail­ing clay foot­prints through their house, it’s a sure sign they are in need of a ded­i­cated stu­dio. The cat­a­lyst for ce­ram­i­cist Larissa War­ren’s new workspace came in 2017, when she took on a large com­mis­sion for a six-star ho­tel on Queens­land’s Gold Coast. Within six months, the founder of Rat­bag Stu­dios (a moniker in­spired by an old nick­name) had de­vel­oped four dif­fer­ent bod­ies of work to be dis­played in the ho­tel – no small feat for a work­ing mother of two. The project stepped up the pace of her prac­tice, and her new stu­dio was the re­sult.

Larissa de­signed the space her­self, along with her elec­tri­cian hus­band, Scott. The com­pact de­sign in­cludes a mak­ing zone sur­rounded by shelves for stor­ing her work and a kiln area, di­vided by a par­ti­tion wall. A slid­ing win­dow con­nects the stu­dio to the sun­room and liv­ing area of her home, mean­ing Scott and their chil­dren – Eva, eight, and five-year-old Os­car – can al­ways find Larissa eas­ily. “They of­ten poke their head in and tell me they’re hun­gry!” she says.

The artist’s in­ter­est in ce­ram­ics dates from a young age. Her grand­mother used to re­gale her with tales of the iconic Pot­ters Cot­tage she helped to set up and run in coun­try Vic­to­ria, a project ded­i­cated to el­e­vat­ing the value of lo­cally hand­made pots. After study­ing a Bach­e­lor of Fine Art at the Queens­land Col­lege of Art, Larissa com­pleted another de­gree in ed­u­ca­tion and launched her­self into a suc­cess­ful art-teach­ing ca­reer. More re­cently she’s moved to part-time, al­low­ing space for her own art prac­tice.

Larissa be­gan to work with porcelain in 2015 and felt an in­stant con­nec­tion. “Clay has an amaz­ing trans­for­ma­tive na­ture from its raw wet state through to its fired ce­ramic prod­uct,” she says. “But I found porcelain even more ad­dic­tive, with qual­i­ties such as bril­liant white­ness, translu­cency and an ex­quis­ite, smooth sur­face.” She also started fo­cus­ing on slip cast­ing; mak­ing a plas­ter mould from an orig­i­nal hand­made ves­sel so the shape can be re­peated.

Her unique craft process in­volves a tra­di­tional Ja­panese tech­nique called ne­r­iage. “I stain porcelain var­i­ous colours and tones, mix in con­flict­ing stoneware and form small pat­tern blocks,” she ex­plains. “I then in­lay slices of these pat­terned blocks into the walls of thin, slip-cast porcelain ves­sels. The pat­tern slices go all the way through the walls, so you can see it on the in­side and out­side of each ves­sel.” Her ne­r­iage blocks are pur­pose­fully lay­ered and com­plex, of­ten in­spired by Aus­tralian land­scapes.

Con­trast and tex­ture are over­rid­ing el­e­ments of Larissa’s vivid ves­sels. “I love the end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties of clay and the re­wards of open­ing a kiln full of good­ies,” she says. “There is so much to learn and I’m thank­ful to be in a com­mu­nity of ce­ram­i­cists who share their knowl­edge.”

“HAV­ING SUC­CESS IN A FEW CE­RAMIC AWARDS AND EX­HI­BI­TIONS GAVE ME THE CON­FI­DENCE TO FORM MY OWN STU­DIO” ~ Larissa

THIS PAGE: Rat­bag Stu­dio’s pre­cious porcelain prod­ucts are crafted us­ing a spe­cial Ja­panese tech­nique. OP­PO­SITE PAGE, CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT: Larissa with her trusty ca­nine com­pan­ion, Jabba; colourants ready to mix into porcelain clay or slip; a range of slip-cast porcelain beakers; tools stored in a spe­cial vin­tage tin Larissa’s grand­mother used dur­ing her own ca­reer as a pot­ter.

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT: Wafer-thin petals of porcelain in­fused with ce­ramic crys­tals – these are pieces from a work in progress; us­ing a plas­ter mould, Larissa mar­bles black clay slip into porcelain slip to cre­ate colour­ful ef­fects on one of her cre­ations; the ce­ram­i­cist prac­tises the art of ne­r­iage.

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