Ramekin is thought to come from a Dutch word for "toast" or the German for "little cream."




Name

Ramekin

Variant

Ramequin, Ramekin dish.

Pronounced

(ramə kin)[RAM-ih-kihn]ræməkin

Function

English Noun

Plural

Ramekins

Hypernym

A type of dish

Purpose

Cooking

Etymology

French Ramequin from Low German ramken, diminutive of cream, circa 1706. middle Dutch rammeken (cheese dish) dialect variant of rom (cream), similar to old English ream and German rahm. Ancient French cookbooks refer to ramekins as being garnished fried bread.


Meaning

1. A food mixture, (casserole) specifically a preparation of cheese, especially with breadcrumbs and/or eggs or unsweetened pastry baked on a mould or shell.

2. With a typical volume of 50-250 ml (2-8 oz), it is a small fireproof glass or earthenware individual dish similar in size and shape to a cup, or mould used for cooking or baking and serving sweet or savoury foods.

3. Formerly the name given to toasted cheese; now tarts filled with cream cheese.

4. A young child usually between the ages of 3 months and 11 years exhibiting a compulsion to force or "ram" their head into various objects and structures.

These days, a ramekin is generally regarded as a small single serve heatproof serving bowl used in the preparation or serving of various food dishes, designed to be put into hot ovens and to withstand high temperatures. They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface. Ramekins have more lately been standardized to a size with a typical volume of 50-250 ml (2-8 ounce) and are now used for serving a variety of sweet and savoury foods, both entrée and desert.

They are also an attractive addition to the table for serving nuts,dips and other snacks. Because they are designed to hold a serving for just one person, they are usually sold in sets of four, six, or eight. Ramekins now are solid white, round, with a fluted texture covering the outside, and a small lip. Please bear in mind that whatever you ask for them on Internet auction sites, someone is still getting the same thing in an op shop for peanuts.

However, there are hundreds of decorative ramekins that came in a variety of shapes and sizes. They came in countless colours and finishes and many were made by our leading artists and ceramicists. My collection has ramekins with One handle only, fixed to the body at one point only. If it has no handle, it is a bowl. If it has two, it is a casserole dish. But the glory day of the Australian Studio Art ramekin is well and truly over. See some here, ask questions or leave answers.

P.S. Remember, just as real men don't eat quiche, real ramekins don't have lids or two handles. Also remember, two handles makes it a casserole dish. Also, please note If it aint got a handle, it's just a bowl.

P.P.S. To all you cretins who advertise your ramekins by associating them with "Eames" or "Eames Era". Get your hand off it, you are not kidding anyone. The Eames people have told me that they never made ramekins.

P.P.P.s To all the illiterates out there in cyberspace, just as there is no "I" in team, there is no "G" in Ramekin. I am the Rameking, they are ramekins.

If you have a set of Grandma's ramekins at the back of a kitchen cupboard, have a look through the site, maybe you will identify them. Thank-you for looking.

There are many of you out there that have knowledge of Australian pottery. Please let me know if you have anything that I can add to the notes. It is important to get the information recorded. You probably know something that nobody else does.

Please note that while your comments are most welcome, any that contain a link to another site will no longer be published.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gulson








Designer        
Marcus Daniels
Maker
Marcus Daniels/Gulson Goulburn
Marks
Stamped “Gulson Goulburn” inside oval cartouche with initials JD impressed to right beside stamp to outside if base.
Material
Grey clay
Description
Gloss glazed earthenware circular bowl with rim squared.  Unglazed flat foot ring.  Dark brown gloss glaze to interior, exterior and handle with striped double “V” pattern to exterior inside brown banding at upper and lower exterior.
Condition
Very good.  One handle broken in transit
Number
No number
Production Date
1980s
Width at rim
11omm
Width at Base
100mm
Depth
65mm
Length (with handle)
206mm
Weight
490gm
Volume
650ml
Acquisition
E-Bay
Rameking Reference Number
GUL 001-007

Gulson Brick & Pottery Company was begun in Goulburn by potter Francis Gulson (1841-1927) and operated from February 1884.   Francis and his wife Elizabeth first came to Goulburn from Albury in 1880 and started to Wollandale Brewery.  It shut down after four years.  Who would have thought you would lose money running a brewery in Australia?  The problem was the water, and, as all Tasmanians know, in beer, it’s the water that makes the difference.  Drought had turned the water sour. 

The company known originally as Gulson's Brick & Pottery Company Pty Ltd manufactured other clay products including tiles, stoneware pipes, fittings and terracotta wares.  Originally the clay was prepared by being milled in a horse-drawn pugmill.  Bricks were pressed by hand.  This continued until 1914 when a brick-making machine was imported from England.  Newer kilns had been built by this time. 

Gulson is a name long associated with brick-making.  Back in Kelvedon, Essex in England, Fredericks grandfather William Gulson managed a brickworks for the local Lord of the Manor.  (Some of the brick-making machines at Gulsons came from Kelvedon.)  Sons Francis and Luke came to Australia and began the Albury Brickworks.  Younger brother Thomas followed later and became a partner with Francis.

Goulburn is Australia's oldest inland city dating back to the earliest days of the colony. Many of the buildings in the town have been built using bricks from the Gulson Brickworks.   Brother Luke had run a brick-works in the border town of Albury.  Although Gulsons no longer operates as a brick-works, it became a tourist and craft centre for a while.  Like many brickworks around Australia, Gulson not only made bricks, pipes and tiles, but also a variety of other pottery including domestic wares. 

Francis died in 1927 and the brickworks continued under the management of four generations of the Gulson family until 1989 when it closed and became the Gulson Craft Village.  Allan (Lyn) Gulson had managed the Illawarra Fireclay & Brick Co. but came back to Goulburn in 1922 to run the Brickworks. 
Marcus Daniels with a young Gulson
Craft-village pottery was made by potters working alone (or in small groups), producing unique items in small quantities, typically with all making carried out by one person.  These ramekins date from that time.  The craft village contained a tea room, potter and wood turner, housed in the vaulted ceilings of the salt glazed interiors of the old kilns.  These are some of the best surviving examples of rectangular downdraught kilns.   

The Wood-Turning shop at Gulsons 1999

A lot of studio pottery is functional like these ramekins but increasingly studio potters produce non-functional decorative or sculptural items.  This appears to be the case with these ramekins.  “MD” is potter Marcus Daniels, who has now left the industry and is now living in Queensland.  

Marcus Daniels was born in Darwin, Northern Territory and educated at St Patrick's College Goulburn.  On completion of his secondary education, he enrolled at the East Sydney Technical School, where many famous Australian potters studied.  A grant from the Arts Council allowed Marcus to complete further training at the Sturt Gallery under Ian Mackay, near Mittagong in New South Wales.  Les Blakeborough had been in charge at the Sturt Gallery in the early 1950s.  On his return to Goulburn in 1984, he set up shop as a full time potter.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Florenz



Designer        
Ron Cooper
Maker
Florenz Pottery Pty Ltd
Marks
Incised signature “Florenz” across base
Material
Clay
Description
Wheel-thrown rounded bowl with short trumpet handle.  Light grey gloss glaze to interior with brown blaze to lower 2/3 of bowl.  Unglazed flat base
Condition
Very good
Number
No number
Production Date
1970s
Width at rim
95mm
Width at Base
97mm
Depth
45mm
Length (with handle)
155mm
Weight
330gm
Volume
300ml
Acquisition
Australian Pottery at Bemboka
19 Nov 2012.
Rameking Reference Number
FLO 001-004

The story of Florenz is in some ways the story of Australia.  Named after her Grandmother, Florence Maude Mills was born in Perth, Western Australia in 1894 to John Brier Mills and Mary Blanche Mills.  There was also brother Arthur and sister Mary.  The family lived in the suburb of Claremont.  John was a Major in the Artillery and tragically died of wounds received at Gallipoli in 1915.  For my overseas readers, the campaign at Gallipoli during the First-World War has become a defining moment in the history of both Australia and Turkey. A visit to Gallipoli is a rite of passage for young Australians traveling to Europe and the Middle East.  Many Australians still have an ancestor or relative that served at Gallipoli and count it as a badge of honour.
In 1916 Florence married George Robert Bertie Williams, a Draughtsman turned artillery officer.  The couple moved to 20 Dudley Street in Haberfield, an inner western suburb of Sydney.  They had 3 children Joan, Marie and George.   It was in Sydney that Florence studied pottery.  They established Florenz Pottery Pty Ltd in 1934 in their garage (some people say stable but Florence said garage) at Marrickville, home of many of Sydney’s great potteries, such as Fowler, Diana and Studio Anna.  George, ever the technician had built an oil-fired kiln, different to the traditional coal fired ones in use by most other potteries at the time.  Their daughter Marie also worked at the pottery.  Florence was experimented with firing lace to produce Dresden like figurines.  Over the next few years they perfected this process.

During the Second World War, Florenz, like other pottery companies turned production over to war work, gaining government contracts to make, among other things, porcelain insulators for radar.  Wartime restrictions meant that only utilitarian pottery was to be produced, that is why so little decorative ware is found from this time.  After the war Florenz had fifteen employees and started making resistance blocks for electric stoves purchased by the Housing Commission of New South Wales.  They also made insulators for the power industry.  Ceramic insulators are used in electrical equipment to support and separate electrical conductors without letting current through themselves.   Next time you are walking around the streets, look up and you will see just how many ceramic insulators are on power poles.

In 1942 the company went into voluntary liquidation, a common and legal business practice, and recommenced immediately at the same site as Florenz Potteries (000 164 214).   The couple were then living just up the road at a property on the corner of Robinson Crescent and Illawarra Road Marrickville.  The pottery was at 303 Illawarra Road, now the site of the “Good One” Vietnamese Barbeque (eat in or take-away).   Many well known potters trained at Florenz, including people such as Harry Mammot.  They made both hand thrown and slip cast   ceramics as well as laboratory and hospital porcelain.

Florence died on the 18th of September 1948 and George on the 1st of June 1957.  In 1951 the pottery was sold to Johann Harves, a post-war German migrant,  (Whose son Peter is now at the Coolangatta Pottery), Max Archer and Mr Pitcher.  Johann’s son Peter now runs Coolangatta Pottery.  Altogether, the pottery operated from 1934 until 1980 when it was sold to Ron Cooper who owned K C Industries, (Casey Ware) who later made high quality porcelain insulators.  In 1962 the company relocated to Brookvale, north of Sydney and continued under the Harves management until 1980.

The following comes from the KC Industries website (yes they are still in business, not all potteries died in the sixties and seventies).   “A privately owned, wholly Australian Company formed in 1947 by Ronald Gordon Cooper and a business associate. Originally founded to produce various glazed earthenware lamp bases and pottery vases most of which were sold through the major retail chains around Australia.  In the early 1950's Ron Cooper acquired 100% of the company and quickly changed its direction towards Technical and Industrial Ceramics, the field in which we continue to excel today. On the death of Ron Cooper in 1969, the current Managing Director, John Cooper took over the running of the business.”
OK, enough about Florence.  In the words of Monty Python “and now for something completely different”.  What can I tell you about Johann; well Johann Freidrich Harves was a German Scientist who migrated to Australia post second world war in early 1950.  He had worked for Schobel (Electricity Meter and Allied Industries Pty Ltd) as a meter specialist.  At least that is what his immigration record says.  In reality he was a ceramics specialist recruited by the Australian Government post-war and smuggled out of Haldenslaven in what was then Russian controlled East Germany.  Arriving in Sydney with his wife and two children, he worked under contract for the Commonwealth Ceramic Engineering Co for two years before  starting H.A.P.Insulators and taking over Florenz.   Don’t believe me? Check out an interview with him in 1970 in the Sydney Morning Herald. (March 15th)
Johann Halves

How’s the serenity?  This is a quote from the 1997 Australian film classic, “The Castle.”  This is the question you ask when you visit Australian Pottery at Bemboka.  Another quote that springs to mind is that elementary law of the old west, “no matter how good you are, there is always someone better.”  Judith and David are in that category.  I think that I have a reasonable collection but theirs is far and away the best collection of modern Australian ceramics that I have ever seen.  Why is this relevant?  Because I bought these ramekins there and if you get the opportunity, I recommend a visit.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Janet Grey










Designer         
John Barnard Knight
Maker
John Barnard Knight
Marks
Incised “Janet Grey Studio” to unglazed base.
Description
Small mould formed steep sided bowl with mainly crown shaped ornamented handles angled down the outside.  Harlequin interiors with plain gloss glazed exteriors.
Condition
Some age related cracking due to thickness of material.  Crazing to interior glaze.
Number

Production Date
1954
Width 
87mm
Depth
45mm
Length (with handle)
130mm
Weight
160gm
Volume
200ml
Acquisition
Australian Pottery at Bemboka
Rameking Reference Number
BAK 006
BAK 007
BAK 008
BAK 009

In February 1954, the young Queen Elizabeth became the first reigning monarch to visit Australia.  The Rameking was there perched on his fathers shoulders to get a look at the royal couple.  Hard to believe today, but the whole country went crazy during the tour, how some things change.  I still have the small Australian flag that I waved. 

Souvenirs were made and sold by the million and among the seemingly endless flow of tat, were these ramekins made to cash in on the frenzy.  Made to his standard bowl shape with the crown shaped handle added as a bit of relevance, thus making dating easy. 

John Arthur Barnard Knight was born in Warracknabeal, Victoria on the 9th of April 1910.  His parents were Arthur Knight and Mabel Alice Barnard.  He was active from the early 1930s to the late 1970s. During most of this time, he taught pottery at what is now the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Prior to this, he and Klytie Pate had worked at Hoffman following their introduction of “Melrose” ware in 1930. 

John had previously studied art at what was then the School of Applied Art at the Melbourne Technical School; it is now the RMIT University.  He also studied the production methods at the pottery at Hoffmann Bricks in Brunswick and at the nearby Maribyrnong Potteries.  He worked in the studio of Napier Waller from 1932-33.

After graduating, he and Klytie joined the staff, teaching pottery, modelling and drawing.  She left after ten years while he continued on until 1975.  In 1939, he took charge of the Pottery Department. In 1940 he married Isabel Gwenda Grose, one of his students, and they established the Janet Grey Studio at South Yarra. They lived nearby at 43 Thanet Street Malvern. 

He served in the RAF from 1942-1945, then continued to expand the Janet Gray Studio and to re-organise the teaching of pottery at the school, establishing courses for the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, and upgrading classes to certificate and diploma courses in 1949 and 1950. He is best known as an educator, continuing to teach at RMIT until 1975. His own work is signed 'J. A. Barnard Knight (painted or incised).

He was a man of firm opinion. An example of the can be found in “ACROSS THE DITCH:  Australian Ceramics in the Post War Period; It was at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology that Peter Rushforth, who had spent some years as a prisoner of the Japanese, was introduced to Leach's book (A Potter's Book ) by the ceramics teacher Jack Knight. As a firm believer in earthenware, Knight found this interest in stoneware and oriental ceramics difficult to comprehend; he sat outside in the sun reading a newspaper while Hamada demonstrated at RMIT in the 1960s, saying that they were 'always talking about stoneware ... can't understand them.” 

John also had his workshop in Malvern, a south-eastern suburb of Melbourne where he sold his work under several pseudonyms, one of these being "Janet Grey".   I do not know how he arrived at the name, but Dr Janet Grey was responsible for the now defunct milk for school children program in Victoria.  John retired with his wife to Flinders on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. He died in Victoria in 1993. 


Thursday, November 1, 2012

McCredie, Nell McCredie



Nellie (Nell) McCredie, (or Nen as she was called by her family) named after her mother was born in Concord, Sydney on the 27th of May 1901, there were siblings  Robert, Allan, Ina and George.  Nell was one of the earliest female architecture graduates from the University of Sydney.  She studied under Leslie Wilkinson (1882-1973), first Professor then Dean of Architecture at the University and she graduated in 1923.  She was a draughtsperson for the Sydney Harbour Bridge project before moving to Queensland to work for what was to become their Housing Commission between 1925-29. 

Nell was the niece of George McCredie, an early politician in NSW who built the property “Linnwood” in Guildford, an innovative property for its time.  Maybe this is where Nell got her love of architecture, because George’s brother Arthur was also an architect.

Nell returned to Sydney in 1932 and began making pottery with her brother Robert Reginald (Bob) McCredie , (b Epping NSW 1916-d Pennent Hills, NSW 1995) named after their father.  Nell had studied with L.J.Harvey who was a significant figure in the development of the arts in Queensland.  He was a remarkable potter and wood carver, it was Harvey's teaching methods that placed him as a central figure in the state's thriving arts scene.  Lewis Jarvis Harvey (1871–1949) was the most important practitioner and teacher in the Arts and Crafts Movement in Queensland; he was a noted teacher, sculptor, woodcarver and potter and influenced generations of craft students.

She operated a pottery studio over a shop (now demolished) in George Street, opposite Wynyard Railway Station, Sydney, New South Wales.  Nell also taught pottery at the YWCA.   Potters Emily Bryce Carter c.1932 and Dorothy May Hope (Domay) c.1941 first learnt pottery at McCredie's studio.  Nell’s work and that of her students was fired in the kiln at her home at 17 Stanley Road, Epping.

In 1933 or 1934 her brother Bob (Robert) McCredie (1910-1985) joined her. Together they made domestic ware for supply to gift shops and restaurants. Nell also made one-off pieces, winning the Arts & Crafts Society's Elizabeth Soderberg Memorial Award for pottery in 1947 and 1951.  After Nell died on the 2nd of November 1968, Bob continued to operate the pottery until he retired in 1974.  It is hard to say whether these were made by Nell or her brother because of the design. 

Those of you who have been following this blog will have seen the Tremar ramekins on an earlier post.  These ramekins look like they could have been made at Tremar.  This pottery operated in Cornwall from 1962 and made earthenware that paid homage to their Celtic past.  As I have said in other posts, design copyright was viewed somewhat flexibly by some Australian potters.  This looks like another example.