In anticipation of Fall For Local’s biannual pop-up market, taking place on October 22 at the Pipe Shop Building (115 Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver), we’re getting to know some of the fair’s 70-plus independent designers and small-business owners.
Today, we meet Gabrielle Burke, ceramist and founder of g ceramic & co.
Who are you
I am Gabrielle, the g in g ceramic & co. I am an Emily Carr University of Art + Design alumna, a ceramic artist, and the sole proprietor and creative brain behind the business and endeavors of the company.
What’s with the name
I have always been very handy and enjoy figuring things out. Although I’ve had a number of hobbies and crafts over the years, I didn’t want my business to be limited to just ceramics.
So while it is based in clay, I often investigate other media like lighting, jewellery and food.
Describe your craft
I make ceramic objects for everyday living. I get my clay locally and make my own glazes. Everything is made by my hand—no molds or machines! All the designs are hand-drawn, carved, and painted.
For me, the process takes me to a zen place. I am an avid thinker and whether I am throwing on the wheel or glazing a kiln-load of pots, my practice allows me space and time to think and ponder our purpose.
Right after graduating from Emily Carr, I was hired as a product designer for a home décor company. I would travel to China and Vietnam and give our designs to the factories, and then travel across Canada and the U.S. setting up showrooms.
I learned a lot, but I also realized I was giving away great concepts and they were being sold to people who probably wouldn’t think twice about the design. I remember sitting on a plane one day and coming to the realization that what I was doing didn’t matter.
Of course I was making people’s homes pretty, but that was it. So I quit my job.
g ceramic & co. is about curating your life; it’s about redefining living. How do you design your life? I have curated a beautiful life for myself doing things that I love, surrounded by beautiful people, and creating things that I love for people that understand.
I love that people have an intimate relationship with the objects. They pick them up and fondle them. They allow that mug to touch their lips as they sip on their morning coffee or tea every day. The objects are thoughtful; they have meaning.
In my practice, I love themes of nostalgia. I play with ideas of home and childhood. I am enamoured of how people associate my work with a relative or friend who used to make ceramics, or a class they took at university or the community centre. People often relate their personal experiences and stories—a passage of understanding.
Claim to fame
g ceramic & co. became popular with the Fitzgerald line: hand-painted 18-karat gold, abstract geometrics inspired by my love of the 1920s culture and Art Deco architecture.
I have always been very modest with my decoration: I prefer clean lines and space to allow the forms to speak for themselves. As a utilitarian maker, I am interested in the conversation that ceramics and food have when given the opportunity.
My Instagram is laden with my investigations with food. This led me to my next line: the Midnight collection. Several years ago, I started working with black clay, using the edges of where the dark clay met the light glaze to create a blank canvas for food.
The line is about texture and touch and is inspired by the West Coast. I used to live by the ocean in White Rock and I spent evenings on the beach in a pile of pillows and blankets, gazing at the stars and watching the inky black waters crash upon the shoreline to create a froth of bubbles.
Favourite item handmade by you
My favourite thing to make is lighting. I started making lighting in my studies at Emily Carr.
Two specific projects come to mind: Inside Outside, which transverses the boundaries of the inside and outside of vessels. It uses light as a tool to illustrate the agency of porcelain to be manipulated and is an investigation of how the exterior and the interior of the objects can be juxtaposed and correlated.
The second project, Smack, was a user-friendly investigation. A smack is a bloom of jellyfish: the installation was of a number of ceramic vessels with clear cables emanating from bottom, eerily reminiscent of the sea animal. As the participant runs his or her hand through the cables, sensors are activated causing the porcelain body to flicker with a warm glow.
Currently, I am working on lights inspired by the Midnight collection. It was recently unveiled at IDS Vancouver.
Small black pendants are illuminated softly by halogen bulbs hanging from a piece of Kitsilano driftwood, which is marked with scorch from a beach fire. The pendants are painted with a neutral textural glaze resembling froth from the ocean as it crashes on the shore.
Sending local love to…
Lana Lepper of LanaBetty. She has been a source of inspiration for me as a maker and entrepreneur.
She is one the hardest working individuals I know. Lana has been there for me to bounce ideas off of, helping with business ideas and challenges as a sole proprietor. We have been booth buddies, getting through long, out-of-province show days side by side… possibly with a bottle of wine. Or two.
Tickets to Fall For Local are $3 in advance online or $5 (cash only) at the door. For more information about the event, or to purchase tickets, click here.