This year we are celebrating our 10th year of Wingnut & Co.
Throughout 2023 we have been working on this collection below which celebrates the past decade, revisits a few favourite designs, looks back on some defining collaborations and shows a series of new work that reflects where we are now.
Our first market in 2013 was organised by Craft Victoria and we had a small selection of handmade products including Fly Swats, Skipping Ropes, Yunomi, Sake Cups, Planters and what became a favourite - Donguri (Acorns), very small ceramic pots with hand turned timber lids.
Utilising off-cuts of timber and leather from the creative businesses we were working at (picture framer, bookbinder and furniture maker) was the backbone of our designs. As Asuka’s interests continued to gravitate towards clay, we set up a small studio at the back of our workplace in Cremorne where we spent most of our nights and weekends. Our stockist list grew, including our first shop & long time supporter Bree Claffey at Mr Kitly in Melbourne and various shops over the years throughout Australia, NZ, US & UK.
In 2015 we fitted out a small warehouse in North Melbourne and got a loan to purchase a kiln. We initially rented out artists studios, but gradually it became solely our workshop with a little retail space at the front in 2017, where we were lucky to make long-term customers and friendships.
Having the shop in North Melbourne allowed us to develop closer relationships with Japanese and Australian artisans. Representing businesses who align with our values, satisfied our expectation of quality and complemented our designs has being a pleasure. We continue to be an Australian stockist of Ukihanoyamacha Organic Tea, Shichida Sake, Yamanaka Lacquerware, Ryobian Maggewappa, Mafu Okai Hemp Fabric, Shoyeido Incense, Double=Double Furniture, Gato Mikio and others. Visting these businesses, as well as historical pottery sites and learning from contemporary potters in Japan has influenced Asuka’s practice and our designs.
Another creative highlight has been having the opportunity to work with the chefs at Melbourne's award winning restaurant Minamishima on creating custom pieces for their seasonal menus.
Having moved to Trentham, the way we live and work has change dramatically. Although, we continue to be influenced by what is available around us. As we have spoken about before, soon after we moved, a devastating storm hit the area, resulting in a large number of uprooted trees. The significant change to the landscape was devastating but provided a unique opportunity to salvage timber and source clay from the exposed earth beneath.
Our house sits on a hill which was formed by a volcanic eruption 3 million years ago. As a result, the clay is rich with iron and minerals, giving us new resources to incorporate in our ceramics. Steady rainfall and fertile soil provide ideal conditions for the trees to grow tall and wide. Being in this environment, we have returned to working with timber, but with a greater appreciation for the material. During the long winters here, our wood-stove is our only source of heat, so collecting and splitting firewood requires a considerable amount of labour. However, we are rewarded with wood ash which heated to the right temperature, turns into glass and has being used as a glaze in pottery for millennia.
Gaining knowledge and an appreciation of local history, geological formations and how to process collected materials, has guided the recent direction and aesthetics of our designs.
Getting used to working off the grid combined with the uncertainty of the pandemic and the accompanying economic challenges of running a micro creative business through this time has been hard, as it has been for all.
But we have learned an incredible amount together in the past decade and we are grateful for your support, interest and encouragement that allows us to continue.