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An interview with a Ceramic Artist – Palinopsia

We were recently contacted by Tamara Bajic founder of Palinopsia – a beautiful bespoke ceramist located in Newcastle, NSW.  Instantly captured by Tamara’s story & her beautiful range of thoughtful, handmade ceramics, we couldn’t help ourselves, we had to share her story with you all. We also wanted to find a way to get these gorgeous ceramics into your hot little hands, so we are hosting our first ever competition over March 3rd – 17th. The lucky winner will  be announced March 19th!  Enter now! 

 

Tamara, Tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in former Yugoslavia and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. I then spent the last thirteen years working between Melbourne and Sydney. I’ve always worked in the maker-space. I studied fashion and textile design, and after leaving uni, I jumped into my first product development role, sourcing and producing textiles. I had the opportunity to work globally with international mills, factories and studios, which opened more doors within manchester, furniture, lighting and homewares. 

I relocated the business here (Newcastle) from Sydney to be part of the dynamic small business community. I felt I could make bigger business strides with more room to stretch out; Sydney real estate isn’t start-up friendly. Here, in this sea-salted town, I found the perfect launchpad with its great coffee and barefoot philosophy.

Why Ceramics?

My passion has always been muddy-handed work. Tableware is the first thing guests notice, and I always felt it has to be bold. I couldn’t find anything in the market brave or unique enough in design to use at home and in commercial settings. I want to shake up plain white plate tyranny and bring art to the table. After years of developing products which burden the environment, I wanted to work with experimental material that doesn’t cause problems at disposal. It’s vital our products and packaging don’t become someone else’s problem. Ceramic pieces are the solution because they start and end as mud. 

We get all our clay from Portugal, so it’s mined in Portugal – all the glazes that are hand held, all the minerals, the materials, all the raw components. The Portuguese have been working with clay since prehistoric times; it’s part of their DNA. Trailblazers in experimental glazes and techniques, when I connected with their ceramic community, I knew I was in the best, muddy hands to realise and deliver my brand vision.

Was there a catalyst moment for kicking off your business?

Everything I’ve done up until this point has lead me to Palinopsia. There wasn’t a single moment, but having a history of working with homewares and furniture products, being challenged by my ethics and constantly witnessing disposable culture in the furniture industry – from there it was birthed, working with a product that starts & end with responsibility.

I am someone that always works myself into the ground – if I am working like this all the time, I would wish I was doing it for myself…

 

Tell us the meaning behind the name ‘Palinopsia’? 

‘Palinopsia’ means a rare state where you keep seeing an object, long after you’ve stopped looking at it. It’s about lasting impressions, and so are we. Our brand philosophy is that we don’t do plain white plates, or any plain colour for that matter. Our glazes are layered and reactive which makes for variation in tone, colour and texture from piece to piece, stable glazes and stains only produce copycats. All our pieces are made with everyday use in mind, firing at high temperatures ensures that its dishwasher, oven and microwave safe; something that any chef will appreciate. 

How do you kick off your design process?

Everything starts visually for me – colours in particular. I start with glaze development, then working on the shapes separately and then put them together. After this I then co-ordinate a custom collection – it’s a very organic development but my main focus has been on colour & texture & picking pieces that mix & match to curate a custom range. 

The glaze itself is very unpredictable so one day will not be the same as the next day. The temperature & materials. I work purely with reactive glazes and what we can achieve one day will not be the same for the next day. It varies; temperature, atmosphere, environment, the pressure – everything plays a big part.

How do you cope when the process goes ‘wrong’?

It doesn’t happen very often where you come across a great result by accident that you want to replicate, but one time the kiln decided to stop working for no reason & the result was incredible – I could never replicate that….it’s really dependent upon the materials, and how encumbered they can be, but I do have to go with the flow..It’s open and we’re working with earth, air, fire, water. The glazes are glass, when the heat’s picking up, it reacts. It reacts with the gases in the glaze. So you do have to have some sort of flexibility.

The main point is that I can perfect a particular glaze in the studio, but when it comes to production, it might not carry across – but theres a bit of magic in that as well.

What do you do with those pieces – have they become ‘trophies’? Do you keep them or give them away?

At this stage  I’m very reluctant to let go of anything.

It’s hard when it’s (the clay) not performing so right, the sample room fills up so I’m going to have to have a sample sale. Every single piece sparks so much joy within me. For the pieces that I have bought and collected, to the pieces I’ve developed,  I’ve been more happy than I have ever been.

As a small business owner & entrepreneur, what does your day look like at the moment?

Yeah, from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, everything is studio-related. For the last two years, I’ve been thinking, “Oh my God, it’s going to get better” (laughs). It should as more people come onboard, and it will. But I’ve had a lot of fun connecting myself with people, and connecting with other businesses. It is why I started the business. People hook me up with the most joy.

I’m up at six. I get my coffee, I spend habitually 10 minutes playing with my dog. She’s a golden retriever, and she completely calms me.

I will then head down to the popup store and I’ll spend a couple of hours focusing on emails, social media, trying to plan my day. Before I take any action, I always plan the day…before I check any personal media account, or anything distracting.

Problem Solvers podcast is a must. That is also part of my morning ritual, as I’m driving into work. It really fires me up in a good way, i.e to set goals.  There are so many podcasts out there that have actually helped me, when I’ve really got stuck in a pickle, to be surrounded by these experts and their skills and they’re talking to you from the phone.

Then, obviously, I’ll open the popup store, I’ll greet people. Then I’ll have orders, deliveries and then products going out at the end of the night. In bed by 10, 11, and then up again. Yeah, it’s just like that.

What does the future hold for Palinopsia?

I’ve grown and I have so much experience and skills and on a personal level I would really love the opportunity to be able to have a team in the plan. To be able to give them (people) the opportunity to learn and experience and for this to be a contribution to somebody else’s life, not just people who are buying the ranges, not just my company.

That is really important to me. More so, over monetary milestones for the business. I want to be able to build a business beyond the brand itself and for the local people to have an opportunity to creatively learn a foundation.

Now because we can’t help ourselves, what would be a part of your brief for your dream house?

Just before I turn off my lights at the end of the day I will meditate on something, every single day. I rediscovered this the last 10 years, or even before I started the business. If I had a really fun day at work, the last thing I would think about would be, if I was running a business, what would it look like? That’s how Palinopsia kind of grew, little by little. It was a lot of just sitting and painting the picture and literally visualising selling a piece to someone, working with it to develop something. Really visualising, getting off the plane at Portugal, driving to the studio, in great detail.

Now, I do the same for my home.

I lived in Mexico, so it’s a great inspiration for me. I really love working with stone and brick and concrete, and for me it would be taking a lot of inspiration from the amazing architecture that’s happening throughout Central America, and especially in Mexico. Having fun with brickwork. I’m all about timber, concrete, glass.

Generally bringing outdoors in. Living a comfortable life, as opposed to wide, barren country.

There are fantastic opportunities out this way, between here and Queensland, and if all good, well then, I’d love to be able to start really putting that dream into practice in a couple of years’ time. We’ll see.

Our first meeting is complimentary so you can get to know us in a relaxed setting. Book a phone call here or face to face in our studio here.

 

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