in.visiblespace x Eastfield
In April of 2021, we sat down with Benny and Ada from @in.visiblespace to film a segment about Eastfield. Check out their page to see the full IGTV video! We were asked some really thought-provoking questions, so we're sharing the full interview here with you.
In.visible Space: Understand that the Matcha Chestnut Medium Bowl, Yuan Yuan Shallow Bowl, Chia Seed Pudding Tall Mug are just a few from your latest spring collection, is there anything you would like to share about them?
Yes they are part of the March drop! These are all new colour schemes that we are trying out - we’ve been trying to experiment and produce new colour ways this drop. We already sold the two plates and shipped them, but I thought they might be interesting to talk about as plates are technically more challenging than mugs for a few different reasons (: We also have a really cute small geometric mug that we’re very fond of and some of our classic cereal bowls that we can share about. Additionally my favourite is a small goji berry mug with gold flecks on the surface.
Our next drop hasn’t been scheduled yet but we are hoping to do a drop or pop-up somewhere around May. Some of our new forms include little pouring jugs, and different heights of mugs.
My personal favourite from the new launch is the Chamomile Tea mug. Last Christmas one of my friends in Vancouver did a tea advent colander where she paired a new tea bag with a different mug each day, she recently purchased this Hermes mug which had a similar shape. I absolutely fell in love with the form. (Haha) it also took me back to this scene in Ouran High School Host club. I remember distinctively there was this episode where one of the side characters owned a tea cup store and I have always love the animation from that scene, so this was a form I wanted to create. I also really like the colour palette that Megan used, there is this sort of muted regal look to it which gives that subtle opulence feel which coincidentally is in line with the original sources of inspiration.
In.visible Space: How does Eastfield find inspiration to create every unique piece that both of you do? Are there times when you feel less inspired? If yes, what do you do?
We go and eat food together in search for new inspiration, and also keep an eye out for other makers’ works (most probably through Instagram) to get new ideas. I don’t think we “get inspiration” as much as “try and experiment” in our process - as weekend potters we only have a limited amount of time to make work, so waiting for inspiration to strike doesn’t get anything done.
I’ll talk more about glazing since that’s my job - for glazing, I get inspiration from studying the different glaze combinations. The order in which glaze is applied, the way in which it’s applied (dipped vs brushing on) and also the thickness really alters the way it turns out. Whenever I get a new piece I will scrutinize it to look for unexpected overlaps and the new colours they produce - and then eventually they might make it to a new piece of work.
There are definitely days when I feel more inertia to begin - those days I know I will probably talk myself out of trying new things, so I need to be patient with myself and start by glazing a tried-and-tested colourway, before pushing myself to pick up new glazes slowly. Once I get into the rhythm of glazing, it’s a lot easier to push the boundaries. I think it’s probably a bit like cooking or baking - the basic movements are the same, and you have to get the foundation settled before moving outwards laterally.
As much as Instagram and Pinterest algorithms are great for a daily barrage of inspiration. The forms that I eventually settle on are mostly pieces that I would want to own myself. When I come across home improvement catalogues and I see some really cute/gorgeous pieces but sometimes I wonder can I accommodate another vase/ bowl/cup/plate in my home. The great thing about Eastfield is that I get to satisfy my desire of “having” it through creating and I love the idea of the piece going out to another home and adding beauty to their space.
Recently, I have been very into whisking matcha, and I saw this pouring chawan (because Instagram is great at ad targeting) and I thought I want that! So we have a few chawans in the works for one of our future projects.
With regards to works we have already created, our Valentine’s day set and our recent collaboration with Eat&Sip had a few pieces with a thumb imprint. Way back when I was starting pottery, I remember making a few pieces w a thumb imprint but it was only recently when I made a pair of cups for someone that I wanted to reintroduce it to Eastfield. I really like the idea of having a part of me in the form, and it seemed like such a sweet personal touch. Apart from how the forms look visually, what I personally like about that form is how it would feel tactilely. In our initial pre-launch stages, a lot of our forms where more heavily based on how it looked. Later on as Megan and I started using our wares we paid a lot more attention to how it would feel to use it to, this also became a factor on how the forms turn out.
There are definitely times where I feel stuck. I do not want to jinx it but I have been very fortunate to not be stuck in the rut for too long. A lot about Eastfield is centered around food, and I think that is also my main draw of inspiration for pulling me out of the rut. I usually cycle through different seasonal food obsessions and that helps me think of forms I want to create. When I went through my latte phase, I thought about espresso cups and coffee cups. The last drop had a lot of new forms created based on that obsession 😂 and when I had my 汤圆phase,I thought about bowls I would want to house my 汤圆 (more on that below (: )
In.visible Space: For each collection that Eastfield creates, would each piece share a similar theme/something in common? Or would each piece be entirely different?
Megs: I’d say there are two parts to Eastfield - one side where we make work and the other where we think about how to tell the story about our work.
Parts of the process are definitely very independent, and I think that actually lends itself to the curiosity and creativity of the final work. These are the throwing and glazing phases, where we only occasionally try and “match”. We just trust each other to do their part and then organically adapt our own halves to the other. However as a background to the actual making process, we do a lot of discussion and talking about our work. Sometime it’s sketching something out and sharing ideas, and other times it’s by forwarding relevant images on IG to each other.
In terms of the storytelling of the end product, we spend a lot of time having “weekend retreats”, where we spend time over a sleepover writing out stories for our social media, cooking food, eating food, and photographing our work. I think that’s a really important part of the process because honestly this is also creative work, and it’s also a rich form of research that feeds back into our making process.
A last part of our thought process integrates the two sides of making and storytelling - and that’s looking at how our audience uses our wares. We love to see how people photograph our work and use them within their homes and it informs our making process. I think it provides us a lot to reflect upon, and sometimes we take away different insights, which is totally okay, because it makes the work richer and more diverse.
Sam: What I like working with Megan is the flexibility that we give each other. Each collection is largely based on our whims and fancies at that moment.
Occasionally we do get an idea that can catapult into a large collection. At the start of this year we launched a Chinese Dessert based series, and it really just started out from me really craving 汤圆. I was working near novena at that time and there was this really famous dessert store that I wanted to try. I have been craving it for months. That particular day I had the idea for the Chinese dessert series, the AC was blasting at an all time high at my work place, I was huddled in a blanket and I really just wanted something warm for my soul. I was craving dumplings with ginger soup. I thought about that dessert place nearby and somehow the ideas for the other wares came from there, all based on desserts I really wanted. I sketched out the ideas and sent it to Megan.
Funny thing, I never got to try that dessert store but at least a cute collection came out from it!
My ideas for forms come from an amalgamation of memories, nostalgia and food cravings. It typically starts with a food craving that brings forth a memory and modifications are made from there. When I was in my coffee phase and had been craving lattes, I really wanted to create a nice coffee cup that would look adorable with the milk foam. It brought me back to this work mug my mom had by her desk when I was young. There was just something about that mug and its shape that I liked since young, and it brought back the memories of warmth which is also the feeling I get when I drink a good morning brew, and it’s the feeling I hope people get when they use our cups when they are sipping their coffee.
Because we create small batch wares, I like the idea that each piece can be personal. The other form that came about when I was in my coffee phase was the thumb printed cup I wrote about earlier. At that time, I was thinking about forms, I had wanted to leave a piece of me in the form itself. I liked the idea of someone holding our cup moulded to our hands, and with the warmth from the tea and coffee — makes it feel as though we are extending a handshake to whom is holding the cup.
In.visible Space: What is the thought/creative process like for Eastfield, e.g. from finding inspiration, doing research, to creating the actual product, to the end product.
For each collection that you create, would each piece share a similar theme/something in common? Or would each piece be entirely different?
Usually we just go with the flow, and then out of the end products we will curate pieces that make sense together. I think from a month to month basis our mood changes and our priorities shift, so coming up with the theme is usually in retrospective instead of at the very beginning. We have two types of wares usually - some come in sets, especially when we have done one-offs that we are very fond of, while others are individual and unique pieces. Both are fun to do in different ways. The sets are quite meditative to make and glaze, whereas the one-off pieces are more artisan and we typically experiment with them.
There are outliers though from this rather free form process - we did an entire collection inspired by laksa from 2 Mamas and a Wok, so for that we experimented with glaze combinations, and settled on one that really captured the complexity of the dish.
Sam: I have a small obsession with food ( if it’s not already apparent hahaha), so there will be times when I have an idea for something but I don’t really know how to turn it into reality so I will bug Megan to make it for me. I’m lucky that Megan entertains me. This was how our chendol collection was born.
I had my chendol obsession at that time and I was consuming chendol either every day or every other day. During one of our sessions together, I creeped out to Megan and literally peppered her w request to make me a chendol cup. Megan did such a wonderful job creating a chendol inspired palette.
With regards to research, we usually gather at Megan’s place for a stayover, where we will have dinner and drinks with the wares. This is so we get a feel of it to see if it’s comfortable as a user. This helps us determine which forms we will create to put in our shop.
In.visible Space: Anything else you'd like to share with us about Eastfield Ceramics? :
Megs: Eastfield actually came out of combining our two surnames! We were motivated to start Eastfield by our pottery teacher Yan, who runs Euphoramics. She told us that we should start working together because Sam hates glazing and Megan hates throwing, and we can use our interests in a complementary way. She also motivated us by telling us that maybe we can take any profit and channel it towards buying Ayam Penyet for ourselves....
We also have a dream of one day collating all of our not-so-good pieces and selling them at a discount under a new section called Westpatch - the inferior piece of land as opposed to Eastfield!
You can watch our short video here!