She’s the mother of an incredibly beautiful and tactile handmade dinnerware range, the aptly termed “Functionality” collection. She rules with a firm but fair hand and affectionately bestows her creations with names such as the Sir Mix-a-lot bowl, the Plattertastic and the Lady Baker. It was with equal parts of excitement and awe that we joined Patricia Fernandes in her home studio for a workshop with a bang. (And when I mean a bang, I mean a bloody good meal. Oh and heaps of belly laughs.)
Patricia’s work brings together a distinctly modern aesthetic of strong simple shapes with an ingenious way of using antique Indian printing blocks. Clean smooth ceramic meets its unexpected match with patterns that once graced rich saris.
Determined not to be just pretty faces, the hardworking pieces are also ovenproof and nonstick meaning that they go from kitchen to dining table without even breaking a sweat. Now that’s my kinda dinner party.
I love to cook. So the “Functionality” range was really born out of a selfish love project! I wanted to create high quality handmade products that looked damn pretty whilst also being able to withstand the rigours of everyday use. I want every meal to be a special experience whether you’re eating by yourself or having a meal with loved ones. Often you don’t realise that a special moment is occurring until it’s passed and for that reason I want to make every meal occasion special.
How have you seen your business growing over the last few years and where do you see it going in the future?
The label has been growing quite organically over the last couple of years. I’m heartened to see so many people recognising the beauty of and converting back to handmade tableware and using my wares to create their very own food memories. As for where I see it going in the future, well a girl can plan but it all depends on the Fates right?
How long does it take to make a piece from your Functionality range like the Punch Drunk Pitcher? Talk us through the process.
Working with clay makes you learn a lot about patience and even more about yourself. It’s hard to put an exact time on how long it takes to make a ceramic piece – it depends on the season, the ambient temperature, as well how intricate the piece is. The Punch Drunk Pitchers are really involved! First the body and handle have to be cast separately and then attached ever so carefully. They then have to be babied and showered with TLC over the next couple of days as I watch for any cracks that form before finally firing them. It’s a labour of love!
Introduce us to your new kiln, you’ve just recently had an addition to the family! And what a catch he is!
Pedro, my new hunk-a-hunk-a-burning-love, has joined the family and couldn’t have arrived a moment sooner. He’s a dreamboat really -you know, the strong silent type who always accommodates your every whim, a complete pleasure to work with. The only thing that’d make him more perfect is if he gave back massages…Anywaaaay…He complements my first little kiln so well. Though quite tiny, this old faithful kiln is not to be trifled with! She works hard and will fit in quite a few pieces if you know how to treat her right.
What other workshops do you have in store?
My goodness, I love running the workshops! I get a huge kick out of sharing my knowledge and skills with other makers and budding enthusiasts. Coming up this year I have an assortment of workshops available in two and four hour formats where you get to work with clay and create beautiful pieces of your own to take home (after you leave them with me for a few weeks while they get fired and glazed). These have been designed to cater for a variety of people, whether you’re a time-poor professional who wants to stretch your creative wings or someone who wants to have a more languorous “Treat Yourself” kind of day. I get people who have never touched clay in their lives except for that time in Year 4 to a number of repeat offenders who just keep coming back for more. Oh and did I mention I looooove to cook? I guarantee you will get fed, and fed well! For more details, do hop on over to my website!
Your workshops are so unique in that they always include a time to “break bread” and eat together. Do you always feed your students?
My workshops are so much more than an impartation of skills, I see them as a way of nourishing your soul and connecting back to oneself. Clay is so tactile and just has a way of doing that when you really get into it. Nourishing the body and sharing a meal together is a delightful added bonus, and all of my meals are made with the utmost of love and consideration. I absolutely love researching yummy recipes and cooking for others (I’ll admit it, I’m a feeder!). So yes, it’s only natural that there’s always an element of food involved in my workshops! Mealtimes are such catalysts for connecting and coming together, I’ve observed people starting the day off as strangers and ending the day having found and made a new friend. Some people even end up signing up for more workshops together!
Describe the perfect day.
I’m not sure I want to define the perfect day for me. I’m trying to live in the moment as I’m a subjunctive type of person, so I’ll describe what would be a perfect hour for me right now: Going for a walk with Rumpei, my beloved Sharpei, to a place we’ve never been before either by ourselves or in the company of a loved one. It’s the simple things that make me happy.
Being a professed workshop junkie, I can honestly and wholeheartedly say that Patricia’s workshop is one of the best workshops I have ever been to. Her love for clay and her even greater love for people is simply contagious. The atmosphere is so relaxed and there are so many moments spent conversing over food or whilst creating that by the end of the day you really feel like you’ve had a great day out with friends.
There are a range of clay workshops to choose from to suit your timeframe and you can make a variety of useful creations from cheeseboards to small hanging planters. Do check them out, sign yourself up, and get Patricia to make you the potatoes. (Refer to photos above to commence drooling)