As consumers, more and more, we are turning our backs on the mass produced and turning towards homemade, handmade, recycled, bespoke and one offs for our homewares and furniture.
It’s just as well that we have inspiring creators who hold the same philosophy and are making beautiful handmade, bespoke items for our homes. One such person is Mel from Mel Lumb Ceramics. Now, I’ve been following Mel for some time - and it’s not just because we went to high school together - and am amazed by the talent of this up and coming ceramicist.
Recently, I sat down with Mel for a chat and asked her a few questions about her exciting work.
[ LIBBY ] So Mel, you were always great at drawing in high school, but where did your interest in ceramics come from?
[ MEL ] I was spending so much time with my day job and family that I’d sidelined myself a little. Both our boys had started school and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something new. I enrolled in a wheel throwing class and it was totally amazing. As you know, I’d always loved to draw, but this was different. It was tactile, messy, meditative, extremely challenging and I loved everything about it.
I was working harder than ever in my day job, so I needed to be satisfied with just a few hours a week on the wheel; I soon realised that I needed to leave my job to fit in more clay play.
So I did.
I bought a wheel, a kiln and at the end of 2016 quit my job, started creating full time and have not looked back.
[ L ] Where does your inspiration come from?
[ M ] The influence of the landscape here has been massive. My husband and I grew up in Sydney and moved to Queensland about 10 years ago. Over the years we’ve continued to move further away from the hustle and bustle, settling on a beautiful little hobby farm in Eumundi. It’s so beautiful here, and the wildlife is incredible. It would be difficult not to be inspired.
I have a real passion for the aesthetic of Danish and Japanese design. I love the focus on form to create elegant, yet understated pieces that can be admired but similarly create a sense of harmony in any space.
Also, I love the bold, earthiness of Australian Indigenous art and without direct intention, this mashup of influences can sometimes be found in my work. I may spend ages refining a softly curved form to then decorate it with bold lines or loose brush strokes.
[ L ] Tell me, what advice would you give to someone thinking about turning their creative passion into a business?
[ M ] Firstly, remember that you can’t be all things to all people, so develop your niche and pursue it with passion.
Turning your passion into a business isn’t always easy. You'll need to make different decisions when revenue and profit becomes necessary, but it is possible.
Stick to your guns and don’t get caught up in other people’s goals. I found that I wasn’t enjoying making to other peoples requirements, so I changed my process and I now offer a selection of curated work for wholesale accounts. It’s perfect. They get my best work and I get to continue on my creative path.
Lastly, value yourself; be confident in your work, and charge accordingly for it.
[ L ] So, I’m excited to hear, what’s next for Mel Lumb Ceramics?
[ M ] I’m always experimenting, and my challenge is making the same thing twice. At the moment I’m playing around with clay additions, adding organic material to clay bodies prior to firing, and experimenting with new methods of resist that can be used with my glaze techniques.
I’m also working on some larger pieces to challenge my wheel throwing skills. I love learning so my favourite thing is to learn something new.
If you’re desperate to get your hands on a one off piece like I am, jump online here.
Mel will be adding new pieces in March so sign up to her newsletter to be first in the know. If you live in Sydney, visit The Plantroom in Manly, where you will soon be able to buy some of Mel Lumb's gorgeous handmade, one of a kind, ceramics…
Thanks for the chat Mel, I can't wait to see what you do next!
Libby Williams, TLSE Style Contributor