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 They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface.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.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dorian Sands

Tom Sanders
Dorian Sands
Incised signature “Dorian Sands” to unglazed base.
Small wheel thrown bowl with tab handle impressed with a sunburst/starfish design to top of handle.
Good, some age related crazing to glaze on bowl interior
Production Date
Length (with handle)
A very pleasant man named Neil and his wife at the Camberwell Sunday Market

Thomas Percy Sanders was born on the 16th of February 1924. Others record his birth in 1921 or 1925, but it was actually 1924. After serving in the Royal Australian Air Force as an Aircraftsman in WW2, Tom moved north from Melbourne and started working in Guy Boyd's Sydney pottery as a potter and ceramic decorator. He moved back to Melbourne in 1949 and worked at the Hoffmann pottery in East Brunswick. He spent a year with Arthur Boyd at Murrumbeena in suburban Melbourne before setting up his own pottery "T & E Sanders" at Eltham in 1950.

Following the establishment of Montsalvat in 1934, Eltham was becoming a centre for what was later to be called the alternative lifestyle. Tom produced these pieces decorated with a sunburst/starfish pattern to the top of the tab handles with the name "Dorian Sands", incised to the base. You can see the wire mark where he removed them from the wheel. His work is said to have been influenced by Guy Boyd and John Perceval. I tend to think that his skill as a potter and artist probably influenced them. Tom was part of that talented group of artists who moved to London in the late 1950s eg: Sydney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman Brett Whitely and Barry Humphries. There is an advertisement for his ramekins in South Australia in 1950. In 1964, a black and white 16mm film entitled “The Lively Arts” featured Tom. Using his pseudonym Dorian Sands, he also produced a series of sgraffito decorated zodiac inspired ramekins. They can be costly so if you find one, buy it.

From 1969 until 1971, Tom and John Olsen completed a large ceramic mural entitled “Eastern World” at the University of Melbourne in the courtyard of the Physics Building. Tom's son, Christopher Sanders was born in Melbourne in 1952. He started working in his father’s pottery at Eltham in 1972 and continues working today. Yet another example of following in father's footsteps. The start of Christopher’s career coincided with Tom’s serious illness and Tom stopped working until 1980. Some of the ramekins incised "Dorian Sands" are very similar in design to those of Arthur Boyd, so he obviously used some of the designs when he moved to Eltham. As well as ceramics, Tom was also a designer whose work was reproduced in prints as well as tapestry. He also made blanks that were decorated by artist John Olsen. Examples are in the Powerhouse Museum.

In 1993 Tom Sanders published, “Spare the Face, Gentlemen, Please”, a “world wind tour of the sordid and sorry catacombs of the local art world with all its meanness, deceit, pretensions and betrayals” (John Yule, from inside the jacket cover of Spare the Face). It also reflects on his time in the army (except he was in the Air Force), living abroad and his friendships. Illustrated by Arthur Boyd the images are raw and immediate, often shocking. The illustration for the title of the book, refers to the words of Marshall Ney after the battle of Waterloo to the firing squad just about to shoot him to “spare the face, gentlemen, please”. Sanders wonders if he will say too much and will we, the reader ‘spare the face’. Will he be cut down again by the art world which had exiled him some ten years before?

What does he mean by “cut down again by the art world which had exiled him some ten years before?” Probably referring to the emerging underground scene of the time that rejected those artists of the previous generation that had moved from radical to established; a curious thing that happens every thirty years or so.  If you want to know more, check out 


  1. I have some ramekins with the starburst design on the under side of the handle. The ramekins are decorated with a design similar to Australian Aboriginal art. They are marked underneath with a large "S". They were given to me by my great Aunt who said they were valuable. Would they be Dorian Sands?

  2. Without seeing them it is hard to judge. Many makers used faux aboriginal designs way back when. The phrase valuable ramekins to me is a redundant tautology, although some of the prices being asked on internet auction sites may contradict this. Tom Sanders once worked at Boyds pottery in Sydney and marked some of their pieces with his initials "TS". If you can send a picture, it would help.