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 They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface.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, August 25, 2012

Dunn, Phyl Dunn


Phyl Dunn
Phyl Dunn
Painted signature “Phyl Dunn” to base
Large straight sided, high waisted lidded earthenware ramekin.  Flat footring base with indented rim to fir separate lid.  Satin gloss glaze to interior and exterior.  Unglazed base and unglazed lid-rim.  Large tulip hollowed, open-ended handle. (It looks like the handles might have been made from small goblets.)
Very good
No number
Production Date
Width at rim
Width of lid
Width at Base
Length (with handle)
Chapel Street Bazaar
Rameking Reference Number
PHD 001-002

Phyl Dunn was said to be born in Melbourne in 1915.   She had said that 'The first pottery that I had ever seen was in the Primrose Pottery Shop; it was [Allan] Lowe's, and I would press my nose to the window. I had an idea of having a shop in Carlton, where I would sit at the window with a wheel'. She had seen potter Merric Boyd demonstrating pottery at a school demonstration before the war, and had also seen a film about African women firing pots, deciding then that she would like to make pots too. 

Film of African women making pottery was most likely made in Ghana for the Prince of Wales College in Accra, Ghana when Harry Davis was head of the Art School there.  In 1954-55, she completed two terms of night classes with Dora Billington at the Central School of Arts, London.   Dora Billington (1890 – 1968) was an English teacher of pottery and a studio potter. She was born into a family of potters in Stoke-on-Trent and studied at Hanley School of Art. She worked as a decorator for Bernard Moore, 1912-1915, and then took a diploma in ceramics at the Royal College of Art 1915-1916.

As the ceramics department was in danger of closure because of the war, Dora helped to run it with John Adams (who later ran the Poole Pottery).  On completion of her diploma, Dora became head of department. She continued to design for industry, working with J & G Meakin during the 1920s and 1930s.  She left the Royal College in 1924 to take up full time teaching at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, where she later became head of the pottery department.
Back in Australia, Phyl became Reg Preston's assistant.  (Reg Preston (18 March 1917 to 14 June 2000)).  She had visited Reg at Warrandyte while attending painting classes with Danila Ivanovich (Daniel) Vassilieff (1897-1958), painter and sculptor, and began working with an unwilling Reg part-time as his apprentice.  
The two married in 1958, the same year they both became founding members of the Potters' Cottage.  Potters Cottage was a co-operative founded in Warrandyte in 1958 for the purpose of advocating the idea of making and selling handmade Australian pottery.   Reg had previously been married to Joan.  Phyl hand-decorated some of Preston's pots as well as making her own range of domestic wares and one-off pieces.
The potters produced beautiful, functional studio pottery with attention to shape, decoration and glaze, bringing ancient craft together with the 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 five founding members from 1958 were Reg Preston, Phyl Dunn, Artec Halpern, Gus McLaren who had worked as a cartoonist for the Melbourne Argus  and Charles Wilton; three additional members from 1961 were Sylvia Halpern, Elsa Ardern and Kate Janeba and the final member was Peter Laycock in 1969. The only founding member who was not a potter was the architect John Hipwell who acted as the group's President.
In its heyday, Potters Cottage boasted a successful gallery, ceramics school and restaurant. The gallery exhibited members' work as well as work by ceramic artists from across Australia and held the annual Potters Cottage Prize from 1965-1967 and 1978-1982. Potters School, setup in 1969, fostered the careers of a number of successful Australian ceramicists, whilst many in Warrandyte fondly remember lively nights at Potters Restaurant where jazz greats Graeme Bell, Geoff Kitchen and Dick Tattam regularly performed.
 Phyl had an exhibition in the Argus Gallery in 1962, and both she and Reg began exhibiting in Craft Association shows, moving from earthenware to stoneware in 1967. Preston and Dunn saw that these kinds of exhibitions gave them a new opportunity: they could raise the price and get out of the rat-race of cups and saucers, and they could also see and show their work in relation to others. This meant they could make work on a different scale, which probably influenced their  shift to stoneware.
During the 1960s Preston and Dunn produced a line under the name “Ceres”, and in 1967 Preston began working in stoneware. Preston is perhaps best known for his work in stoneware, often large pieces with bold, abstract decorations, and his lidded shaped pieces with rich vitreous glazes over-poured or brushed with other metallic glazes.  Preston went on to become an acknowledged master and has pieces in collections such as the Powerhouse and QUT museums. 
In 1982 the couple set up a studio at Woolamai on Phillip Island in Victoria, where along with husband Reg, she continued to work until 1987. Also working around this time on Phillip Island, but at the other end at Ventnor were potters Eric Juckert and Charles Wilton.  Her works are signed with a painted 'Phil Dunn' or 'P.D'.  Phyl died in Wonthaggi, Victoria on the 18th of October 1999.

Image: Unknown Photographer, Reg Preston and Phyl Dunn, c. 1970. Potters Cottage archives, private collection.

Thanks to Judith at Bemboka for some of this post. 




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