I'm somewhat foggy in the morning as I wander out into Katia Carletti's kitchen where she's already up with a smile, and offering me a coffee. Just what I need. I'm handed a flat white in a beautiful hand-built little cup and, slowly, I recall the long, long drive of the day before from the Macedon Ranges in central Victoria all the way to Adelaide. Just for the coffee, it's already worth the trip.
We take our cups outside and sit in the garden while we chat about what we'd like to do for the three days I am going to be staying. Katia wants to show me around to some of her favourite local spots and to test out a ceramics workshop on me she's been planning. After conversing over emails for months, I'm keen to spend some down time with this kindred spirit and learn about hand building clay as well. I take a moment to be excited about having my first lesson with one of my favourite makers!
Katia painstakingly forming tea pots by hand.
In the studio, Katia plays music or a Harry Potter audio book that has me giggling while I try to form the clay. She teaches me how to hand-pinch spoons and from there I go on to make a cup, a bowl, planters and more. Immediately I can see the appeal of working with clay and how it allows ideas to take shape so quickly. It's a wonderful complimentary activity to woodworking, which takes much longer to realise a design. Deceptive though-- Katia is quick to remind me that it can take a few weeks for a batch of her ceramics to be dried, fired, glazed and finished. As I only have the time to do the first step, I will be leaving what I've made in Katia's capable hands to glaze as collaboration pieces.
One of my spoons drying at the sill.
We spend two days in the studio, making, working in companionable silence or chatting about the challenges and delights of running small batch, creative businesses. It's actually only much, much later that I realize I was so absorbed that I hardly took any photos of what we made at all! (Reason enough for another trip in the future?) Coffee and tea breaks over the two days we're in the studio are little garden rituals with a different handmade cup each time. In the evenings we switch to wine and have a good laugh about 90's fads and life's funny little ways.
We almost always sit outside to eat with Katia's life companions; fiancé and talented artist Rohan, and their daughter-bunny, Tilvie. My own bunny, Fleetwood, has stayed at home for this trip, so having a little brown lady-Fleet around helps with my withdrawal from my werewolf puppy. I'm also grateful to discover I'm not the only one to make up increasingly wild nicknames for my rabbit.
Tilvie. AKA: Silver Fish, Chicken, The Woman, Pine Nut, Teddy, Princess T, Honey Nut, Miss T, Baby Brown, Miss Piggy, Brownlet, Brown Pants or (officially) Brown Silvie.
Katia's little home is a wilderness of plant life, simple pleasures and creativity. It's a jungle out there, and in here, and over this way too! Everywhere I look I can see paintings, handmade ceramics and wood works. Some are by Katia and Rohan themselves but there are little keepsakes from makers all over the world. It's a serious treasure trove, with our tea spot set as polar north.
Tilvie runs freely through the home and backyard, investigating the potted plants at her leisure for a nibble, or sleeping under our chairs in the studio. Hearing her little 'high heels' tippy-tapping over the floor around the place is very endearing.
The humans eat quite well too! I'm spoilt with meals that are all simple, fresh and delicious. Corn fritters with couscous - pancakes with freshly picked black berries - muesli, fruit and yogurt - garlic, chili and basil pasta and all the fresh figs you can eat straight from the tree. Yumm! Not to mention us all driving into town at night for a sneaky gelati before bed.
Cosy interiors. I spy work by another favourite, Elizabeth Barnett.
One day we set aside for exploring, and naturally that's the day it rains. Still, it's not cold, so we decide to stick to our plans. Katia takes me to the Botanical Gardens after excitedly letting me know that the Corpse Flower has bloomed there over night. This incredible flower only blooms once a decade. Ironically, the Melbourne one bloomed when Katia visited last year!
We don't only see this fasinating alien creature in it's strange beauty, but we wander the rest of the gardens as well and I can hardly lower the camera before seeing another beautiful sight. It's a rainbow of greens and browns, the weird and wonderful. Such an inspiring place and a serious highlight.
Adelaide Botanical Gardens.
Three days went far too fast but they were full of soul enriching experiences. I created, explored, laughed, shared, learnt and made a great friend. All my bags are packed by the door, ready to bundle up into my car in the crisp, fresh light of morning.
One last coffee before I go.
I can't thank Katia enough for welcoming me into her home. Every new person we meet and spend time with helps us to grow and be inspired, and from my stay with this wonderful, gentle soul I get to bring home some positive lessons to incorporate into my own life. Take you studio breaks often and outside in nature, keep water with you while you work, allow yourself only three coffees in the morning and switch to tea in the afternoon or your heart will pound, you can never have enough plants and most importantly... kind makers are the best makers.
- Jesse x