Ramekin is thought to come from a Dutch word for "toast" or the German for "little cream."




Ramequin, Ramekin dish.


(ramə kin)[RAM-ih-kihn]ræməkin


English Noun




A type of dish




French Ramequin from Low German ramken, diminutive of cream, circa 1706. middle Dutch rammeken (cheese dish) dialect variant of rom (cream), similar to old English ream and German rahm. Ancient French cookbooks refer to ramekins as being garnished fried bread.


1. A food mixture, (casserole) specifically a preparation of cheese, especially with breadcrumbs and/or eggs or unsweetened pastry baked on a mould or shell.

2. With a typical volume of 50-250 ml (2-8 oz), it is a small fireproof glass or earthenware individual dish similar in size and shape to a cup, or mould used for cooking or baking and serving sweet or savoury foods.

3. Formerly the name given to toasted cheese; now tarts filled with cream cheese.

4. A young child usually between the ages of 3 months and 11 years exhibiting a compulsion to force or "ram" their head into various objects and structures.

These days, a ramekin is generally regarded as a small single serve heatproof serving bowl used in the preparation or serving of various food dishes, designed to be put into hot ovens and to withstand high temperatures. They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface. Ramekins have more lately been standardized to a size with a typical volume of 50-250 ml (2-8 ounce) and are now used for serving a variety of sweet and savoury foods, both entrée and desert.

They are also an attractive addition to the table for serving nuts,dips and other snacks. Because they are designed to hold a serving for just one person, they are usually sold in sets of four, six, or eight. Ramekins now are solid white, round, with a fluted texture covering the outside, and a small lip. Please bear in mind that whatever you ask for them on Internet auction sites, someone is still getting the same thing in an op shop for peanuts.

However, there are hundreds of decorative ramekins that came in a variety of shapes and sizes. They came in countless colours and finishes and many were made by our leading artists and ceramicists. My collection has ramekins with One handle only, fixed to the body at one point only. If it has no handle, it is a bowl. If it has two, it is a casserole dish. But the glory day of the Australian Studio Art ramekin is well and truly over. See some here, ask questions or leave answers.

P.S. Remember, just as real men don't eat quiche, real ramekins don't have lids or two handles. Also remember, two handles makes it a casserole dish. Also, please note If it aint got a handle, it's just a bowl.

P.P.S. To all you cretins who advertise your ramekins by associating them with "Eames" or "Eames Era". Get your hand off it, you are not kidding anyone. The Eames people have told me that they never made ramekins.

P.P.P.s To all the illiterates out there in cyberspace, just as there is no "I" in team, there is no "G" in Ramekin. I am the Rameking, they are ramekins.

If you have a set of Grandma's ramekins at the back of a kitchen cupboard, have a look through the site, maybe you will identify them. Thank-you for looking.

There are many of you out there that have knowledge of Australian pottery. Please let me know if you have anything that I can add to the notes. It is important to get the information recorded. You probably know something that nobody else does.

Please note that while your comments are most welcome, any that contain a link to another site will no longer be published.


Monday, February 14, 2011


These dishes from the early 1950s are not ramekins as are represented by some sellers on internet auction sites. They are what was known as Hors d’Oeuvres dishes and were part of a set of five dishes that nestled in a low-sided wicker basket or a metal frame that rotated in the centre of a table. Expensive for their time, they are relatively uncommon and should be purchased if you see them. They are still an ideal retro addition to any entertainer’s home but should not be called ramekins.

SYLHA was originally three people; Sylvia Halpern, Artek (Artur) Halpern, and Artur’s brother Stanislaw.

Sylvia Pauline Halpern (nee Black), was born in Kobe Japan on the 25th March 1918 and came to Australia in the late 1930s.  Artek (Artur) (1908-1976) arrived in Fremantle Australia aboard the “Asturias” on the 6th March 1947. His brother Stanislaw born Zolichev Poland (1919-1969) having arrived in Fremantle before the war aboard the “Otranto” on the 15th of August 1939.  The brothers were the sons of Eisig Halpern, engineer, and his wife Berta, née Gutt.  Having lost their family property during the Nazi occupation, the Halpern family subsequently filed for compensation along with other family members Leon and Edward Halpern for land in Lvov , then in Poland, now in the Ukraine, taken over by the authorities.  With the fall of the Iron Curtain, I wonder if they got it back?  Artur worked for RCA in South Melbourne for a time.

Sylha stands for Sylvia Halpern, the name given to their output by Artur.  Confusion may arise over Sylvia and Artur.  She was actually married to Stanislaw on the 28th August 1943 in Melbourne, years before Artur arrived.  She and Stanislaw were later divorced after having a daughter who predeceased them.  It was Artur and Sylvia who both made pottery using this brand. The Sylha Ceramics Studio was run by Artur and Sylvia and was originally located in the backyard at 1 Murrumbeena Parade, Murrumbeena before moving to Natalia Avenue, South Oakleigh in 1950 and then to Warrandyte in 1958 where Artur helped to found the Potters Cottage.  In South Oakleigh they employed two Italian potters and working with them, he learnt the skills of mould-making and slip-casting. Artur learned a lot from one of them, Costantino Bacchini (b: 9 September 1921) who arrived in Melbourne in 1952 under the Australian Italian Migration Agreement.  West-Australian potter Mike Kusnik also worked there in 1959. 

Artur had qualified as an Engineer in Czechoslovakia and in 1950, built the electric kiln they used.  Artur and Sylvia later moved to Dingley Dell, Warrandyte and joined the Potters Cottage (in 1961).  Sylvia Pauline Black had studied at RMIT under Klytie Pate and John Barnard Knight in 1944-45, and then later taught Artur and his brother, her former husband Stanislaw. Artur, an engineer built their first kiln (electric) and used Sylha as his brand. Several kilns were later built and in a relatively short time Artur and Sylvia was earning a full time living as potters, although it appears that Sylvia was the major partner with Arthur the marketing person.  Not one to do things by halves, Artur imported great quantities of glaze colours from England and Germany as these were unavailable in Australia at the time.

Like most makers of the day, their sales were made through department stores to whom they sold direct. Artur sold mainly through the Primrose Pottery Shop in Melbourne (see the post for them). Most makers did not advertise, leaving that up to the stores that sold their ramekins.  Sylvia signed hers “Sylvia Halpern”, not to be confused Stanislaw who signed his pieces “shalpern”. The family tradition continues with daughter Deborah also taking up pottery after being “apprenticed” to   Artur.

The five founding members of the Warrandyte Potters Cottage, from 1958 were Reg Preston, Phyllis Dunn, Artur Halpern, Gus McLaren and Charles Wilton; three other members joining in 1961 were Sylvia Halpern, Elsa Ardern and Kate Janeba. The only founding member who was not a potter was the architect John Hipwell who acted as the group's President. 

Potters Cottage was officially opened in 1958 by Dame Mabel Brookes, wife of the Governor of Victoria, Sir Dallas Brookes.  It was a small miner’s cottage in Research Road near the Warrandyte Bridge. It was then known as “Moonlight Cottage”, because the gold miner who built it in the 1890s worked in the Caledonia Gold Mine by day, and built his cottage by moonlight. By 1969 the Potters Cottage Co-op had built a restaurant where people were able to have their meals served on and in the pottery that was made by local craftspeople.

The co-operative was established for the purpose of making and selling handmade Australian pottery. The potters produced beautiful, functional studio pottery with attention to shape, decoration and glaze, bringing traditional craft together with modern. Whilst they shared certain principles in their work, the distinctive style and individuality of each artist is strongly evident. Their shared idealistic belief that modern, handmade pottery could enhance the quality of contemporary life was central to their philosophy.  The Co-op built a pottery school where people could learn to make their own pottery.

A group of students from this pottery school went on to form their own co-op, Stonehouse Potters in 1972, which is still flourishing. As well as the significant numbers of potters in the region, the Pottery Expo in Warrandyte each autumn highlights this important artistic tradition.

Stanislaw deserves his own story, but not here because he didn’t make ramekins.  Look him up, he is one of the great underrated artists of Australia.


  1. Hi Rameking,
    Reading your article makes me remind that I heard this word many times from my father: Costantino Bacchni born Civita Castellana Italy Sept 9th, 1921 and died on 1st of March 2004.
    Can you please tell me if Sylvia is still alive?
    Last time I saw her was in 1993.
    Thank you in advance for any info you can provide me.

  2. Thanks for your enquiry. I cannot find a record of her death. If she is still alive, she would be in her nineties. I suggest that you contact her daughter Deborah Halpern, a leading artist in her own right. Deborah has her own website.

  3. dear Rameking,
    Thanks in answering me.
    Today I came to know she passed away 3 years ago.
    After I posted the message on this blog, I found Debbie's email address. This morning I saw your reply.

    These days she is doing an exhibition about
    Potters Cottage at Manningham (Doncaster) Arts Centre.
    All the best.
    Warmest regards

  4. Dear Rameking
    I have found your site very useful as I've been scurrying around in op shops and garage sales lately and have found a few pieces of melbourne studio pottery.
    I've found one that I can't find a reference to - a lamp base in the form of a 'glentleman' with a tophat and cane and an ornate vest and cravat. When I found it was painted in a flat plastic and it's electrical openings closed up with a kind of putty/clay.
    After washing it in hot water (initally to get rid of dust etc) the paint came off to reveal a lovely pearl glaze.
    The base is marked Silhouette Ceramics Melb Australia (incised/stamped/moulded?) and there a 5 raised dots.

    I can't find anything on the net about this company. I've contacted The Collector in Murumbeena and Bembooka - I haven't heard from The Collector and Bembooka doesn't know anything about it.

    Do you?



    1. Sorry, no information at this stage. I suggest you contact the people at Identifying Australian Pottery, they may have an answer, or may know someone who does. So many potters made stuff in Melbourne and mostly only produced small quantities. They never advertized and mainly sold through agents. I only look after ramekins and leave the art stuff to others.

  5. Hi Rameking, My name is Trevor Stevenson, Sylvia Halpern was my Aunt, my mother's sister. When we arrived in Melbourne in 1957 we actually lived with the Halperns for a few months before moving in to our own house. I can remember spending quite a bit of time at the Sylha pottery, my mother actually worked for them with Constantin and the other Italian whose name I can't remember. My family also moved to Warrandyte and my mother also became a Potter using Sylvia's designs and utilising the moulding skills she had learnt at Sylha. Her modest output was all sold through the Potter's Cottage, where she and I both worked behind the sales counter. My mother died in 1973 and Sylvia died in 2009. My cousin Debbie, still has property in Warrandyte and is still producing pottery, although nowadays it is generally large sculptures either for exhibitions or on commission.
    Cheers, Trevor