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




Ramequin, Ramekin dish.


(ramə kin)[RAM-ih-kihn]ræməkin


English Noun




A type of dish




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.


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 They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface.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.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Elke Pottery

Ellen David
Incised freehand “Elke 12 Aust” to base
Drip glazed, mould pressed straight-sided bowl with folded loop handle to side.  Lightly speckled clear glaze to interior, heavy brown drip glaze to exterior and handle.
Good, 2 small chips to inside of rim, one small chip to outside rim of base.
Production Date
Width at rim
Width at Base
Length (with handle)
E-Bay 6 May 2012.
Rameking Reference Number

Trümmerfrau, that’s what they were called, Rubble Women.  In the aftermath of the allied bombing of World War 2, the task of clearing the streets of hundreds of German cities fell to the many civilian women who had survived the war.  With the men away fighting, or held in prison camps, this necessary job fell to women.  It was in Berlin, after the war that Ellen joined this group.  In a time of almost universal unemployment, this was the only job that she could find.  Today, children play on the many mounds of this rubble comprising grassy knolls in German parks.  It was during this time that she met another Trümmerfrau, the mother of Karl Heinz David, a Berliner.  Introduced to her son, a relationship began that continued until his death.

He arrived in Australia aboard the ship Castel Bianco on the 17th of July 1951 and went to Tasmania where he worked on their Hydro scheme as a Fitter and Turner.  Ellen arrived separately and worked there as a Governess.  They came to Melbourne in the mid 1950s where Karl got a job with Johns and Waygood, a large construction company better known as the lift (elevator, for my American readers) people.  He later left and started working on his own, building and installing kilns in New South Wales and South Australia.  In the late 1950s, early 1960s, Ellen worked at the Boyd Pottery in Murrumbeena, a suburb of Melbourne as a decorator.  She once described it as the best job she ever had.

In 1960 they bought a block of land in Clayton.   Working on weekends, she and Karl built the house and pottery studio themselves over a two-year period.  The studio consisted of four areas, a room with two kilns.  (There was a third kiln but that was rarely if ever used.)  A second room where the moulds were stored and the mouldings made.  All their work was slipcast and Karl-Heinz made the vat where the slip was prepared.  The third area was at the rear where their output was stored and dried.  The last area was at the front of the building and that was Karl’s workshop.  He was multi-skilled and could turn his hand to almost anything.  He even built a caravan there.

Their house also featured in the pottery making because Ellen had a room there where she worked on the prototype designs and Karl-Heinz converted the bathroom into a photographic darkroom.  He produced all their publicity photos there himself.

At the time they began Elke, (early 1960s) Clayton was fast becoming a rapidly growing, low cost, new suburb and many migrants were attracted by the booming industry in the area. They even had a Volkswagen factory there, now a big storage facility, partly used to store BMWs and Volvo's. That site is a metaphor for Australian industry. Once they made cars there, (first Volksy's, then Nissan) now it is just a big garage for imported European cars.

Even though Elke was actually a backyard operation, it was far from being just a backyard operation. It was one of the many small potteries operating in Melbourne at the time. Output was considerable and sold through the many Department stores around Melbourne at the time. Like many of the smaller manufacturers, they would most likely have sold some of their output through an agent. At the time, the leading agent in Melbourne was F.R.Barlow and Sons Pty Ltd of Commerce House, 328 Flinders Street. Barlow’s were also agents for some English pottery as well as some Australian art works. Barlows also represented Remued for many years. Please do not confuse Elke with Ellis as some do, they are two very separate companies. 

The Studio

Elke began in the early 1960s and continued, it has been said until the early 1980s, although I think it more likely that major production ceased around Karl-Heinz' death.  As with many potteries of the time, they would carry a bag of samples around the Melbourne stores, selling small volumes to gift shops and specialty stores.  They also sold to the iconic Melbourne department store Myer, on commission.  In the 1970s, Karl-Heinz became ill and after a protracted periods of illness, he died in 1979.  This was the end of Elke as a major manufacturer.  Ellen did continue making small items and is known to have sold them at the Box Hill Market, mainly small figures and souvenir items similar to some of the Studio Anna pieces around today.

Ellen was a also keen gardener and grew many trees around the property.  One of these was a larch that grew in the back yard near the studio.  Over the years it thrived under Ellen’s careful ministrations, as did all the other trees.  She could be found out in her garden almost until her death.  Sadly, her advancing years made her reclusive .   On the 20th of December 2009 Ellen Anne David passed away at age 87. She was born on the 14th of November 1927.   She and Karl-Heinz had no children and she bequeathed her property to an organization.  Her executor was overseas at the time Ellen died and so it took more than a month for an obituary to be published on the 14th January in the local Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun. 

Ellen was cremated at the Springvale Botanical Cemetery and her ashes were scattered at the same private place where she had scattered Karl-Heinz' ashes years before.  She had lived at 10 Fortuna Street Clayton and after a suitable period, the beneficiaries cleared out the property.  At some stage after production ceased, the larch tree which had grown enormously had lost its crown which had fallen onto the side of the studio.  Causing some damage to the wall, water had run into the mould room and some of the plaster moulds that were kept against the side wall were damaged beyond repair.   Around a dozen were mush and disposed of as being beyond salvation.  Ellen had not been into the studio for some time and a patina of dust covered everything as the contents were cleared.

If you saw the advertisement for the sale of her home, part of the description was “The separate storage/workshop/utility builing (sic) at the rear offers possibility of conversion to a dwelling (STCA).”  This separate building was once the "Elke Ceramic Pottery"; and Ellen was a partner in the business and also a pottery decorator there. The house still has the name "Elke" on the front wall.  Subsequent owners converted the studio into student accommodation.  Monash University is only a short walk away.  The property has changed hands a couple of times since Ellens passing.  I am grateful to Ellen’s executor Louise for much of this information.  She plans on putting a more complete story about Ellen and Karl-Heinz together.  I look forward to reading it.

Their story has now ended.  Their home and studio have been demolished.  Every trace has gone and the block cleared for renovation.  I am sure that the next chapter won't include pottery.