DESIGN | ART | CRETE
Crete-Inspired Ceramic Art
EA CERAMIC STUDIO
"IT'S FASCINATING HOW SOIL, COLLECTED FROM THE MOUNTAINS OF CRETE ISLAND, CAN BE TURNED INTO CERAMICS FOR EVERYDAY USE."
- ARIS TABATSIKOS
Inspired by ancient forms and Crete island’s natural beauty, Ema Ramanskaite & Aris Tabatsikos are the creators behind EA Ceramic Studio’s modern earthenware. Based in the picturesque village of Margarites, known for its traditional artisan pottery community, these two work the wheel and kiln, moulding earth’s clay into charming pieces of art.
What is a typical day like at EA Ceramic Studio?
Ema Ramanskaite: Running a ceramics studio demands fulfilling a variety of tasks which means that every day is different from the previous one. It is always a mixture of everything. There are technical tasks related to direct touch with clay, but besides that, it is never only creative duties. Behind the scenes there are internet shop and wholesale management, product packaging and pottery workshops planning. Another daily priority is also taking care of the shop and direct customers.
Aris Tabatsikos: Usually, we start working in the morning and finish in the afternoon. Our schedule depends on the season. There are periods that we’re preparing a new collection, and during summertime most of the energy goes to orders and customers. Typical daily tasks are wheel throwing and searching for new ergonomic, comfortable and interesting shapes.
What is something ... a craft detail ... that most people unfamiliar with the art of ceramics don't know?
E. R. : Patience. The process of making ceramics needs time and practice and positive energy of course. You really need to love this craft in order to continue.
A. T. : Totally agree with Ema. Sometimes people only see a beautiful object, but behind this object is hours of wheel throwing, many pieces connected together, trimming, firing, glazing and again firing – and only then you can see the final result.
What draws you to ancient and modern simplicity?
E. R.: Ancient Greeks had absolutely amazing design for each purpose. It is nice to connect story and shape from the past with our vision and style. As a final result, we make stories in 3D format.
A. T. : For every product from the past, people designed a shape as an answer to a certain need. Nowadays, it is really interesting to observe the whole story that is hidden behind it. For us, this is a source of inspiration.
What elements of nature inspire you and how are these reflected in your work?
E. R. : The earth of course. We work with local clay, and it is fascinating how soil, collected from the mountains of Crete island, can be turned into ceramics for everyday use.
A. T. : Actually, all four elements inspire us and are equally important in ceramic crafts.
What do you enjoy most about creating for EA Ceramic Studio?
E. R. : I really enjoy applying colors to the surfaces. Our tableware collections is quite minimal, but wall tiles are full of colors, and in this way I can keep the balance.
A. T. : For me, the most enjoyable process is working on a wheel and the search for the new shapes. Besides that, I also like to host wheel throwing classes and share my knowledge with people who attend them.
Is EA Ceramic Studio a passion turned into business?
E. R. : In some way it is, yes. When I came to Crete, one of the first things that I noticed here was all the ancient and traditional ceramics. It fascinated me so much, that I took some ceramics classes and decided to open my own studio.
What types of ancient works inspire your modern take on bottles, cups and more?
E. R. : There are no special types that we search. We see something, and if it looks like a great idea we start to work on how we can adapt it for nowadays and our style. Let’s say a swinging base. In ancient Greece, large jugs with a round base were used for carrying liquids in boats, as during storms, they would swing together with the boat. This was a safe way to store oil or wine during the trip. Our swinging bowls and cups are perfectly suited for eating and drinking coffee in bed – different objects, but the same idea with swinging detail.
A. T. : Part of our work is visits to museums and the search for details that we can combine with our ceramics. For example, one of my favorite objects are the ring-shape bottles of the Minoan civilization. They were found all over Crete island and were used for expensive liquids such essence oils or perfumes. We create a similar design called the MINO bottle in different sizes, and it can be used for olive oil, vinegar or homemade liqueurs.
Each of your products is made by hand. Describe the feeling you get every time you open the kiln.
E. R. : It was always extremely exciting every time we opened it!
A. T. : It is nice to see final results with colors, especially if it is something one-of-a-kind and we don’t make it every day.
What it is it like knowing that your creations leave the studio to find their place in someone's home?
E. R. : When we create a collection for each season, we try to have a concept and to tell a story. This year, our inspiration was slow breakfast. And we would be glad to know people may spend a longer time drinking coffee from a swinging mug on weekends, enjoying moments with family.
A. T. : Also for us this is not the end of the journey of the product. It is very important that a product fulfills its expectations. That is why we test everything we make to see if they are comfortable and practical for use.
What about Crete do you love so much that made you decide to settle there for now?
E. R. : I am from Lithuania and came to Crete to work as a guide. I really liked the island lifestyle and nature from the beginning. I never studied something that would be connected with arts or crafts, but I always liked it. Once I started working with ceramics, I knew this was the place to stay.
A. T. : Before working with ceramics, I was actually working with iron, but it was a hard way to live, so I transferred to another material. Ceramics really fits perfectly into Crete’s environment and culture, so it was kind of natural to stay here.
EA Ceramic Studio is based in Margarites. What would you suggest we do there aside from visiting the studio, of course?
E. R. : Margarites is a lovely colorful mountain village with many pottery studios. For ceramics enthusiasts, it is almost paradise. You can visit different workshops with individual pottery styles. Around the village, there are also a lot of interesting hiking routes that are not too demanding.
Describe your creations in three words.
E. R. : Quality, innovative, contemporary.
A. T. : Simple, practical, reliable.
WORDS: Portes Magazine
PHOTOS: EA Ceramic Studio
FEATURING: Design by EA Ceramic Studio