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 They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface.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, October 26, 2013

Harold Hughan

Harold Hughan
Harold Hughan
Painted H Hughan faintly to base in oxide and incised H  G  I
Glazed earthenware clay
Shallow bowl with small curved handle.  Glazed in brown “avocado” finish.  Unglazed footring.
Very good
No number
Production Date
After 1945
Width at rim
Width at Base
Length (with handle)
Australian Pottery at Bemboka
25 October 2013
Rameking Reference Number
HUG 001

Harold Randolph Hughan (1893-1987), potter was born on 11 July 1893 at Mildura, Victoria, the second of ten children of Victorian born Randolph Hughan, Gardener, and his English-born wife Emily, née Clayton. Of slight build, and known to close friends simply as `Buzz’, Hughan was described by Kenneth Hood, who had championed his work, as being, like his pots, `reserved and unassuming’.  Much of Harold’s childhood was spent at Hamilton, Victoria.  In 1910 he moved to Geelong and retrained, by correspondence, as an Electrical Engineer, hence the nickname “Buzz”.  

Having previously served in the Militia for some years, on 27 October 1915 Hughan enlisted in the 1st Australian Imperial Force.  He saw action on the Western Front in 1916-18 with the 3rd Divisional Signal Company and the 44th Battalion.  In November 1917 Sergeant Hughan was commissioned and in March 1918 promoted to Lieutenant. On the 2nd of September 1919 he married Lily Booth at the parish church of St James, Toxteth Park, Liverpool, England.  They arrived in Melbourne in February 1920 and his AIF appointment terminated on 14 April. He continued to serve in the Militia, rising to Major in the Volunteer Defence Corps (Home Guard) during World War II.

Born in 1893 he was of an older generation, but as he didn't take up pottery until 1940 he is situated firmly in the post-war pottery movement.  The beginning of his interest in ceramics coincides neatly with the publication of A Potter's Book, which he first read in 1940, the year it was published.  After several jobs, Hughan moved to Melbourne and joined the firm of Oliver J. Nilsen, for whom he worked as an electrical engineer until his retirement in 1963. Long interested in crafts, including woodwork and weaving, he was introduced to pottery in the early 1940s by his wife and their son, Robert, who had taken it up as a hobby.

Bernard Leach’s A Potter’s Book (1940) attracted him to studio pottery in the Anglo-Japanese tradition; C. F. Binns’s The Potter’s Craft(1910) taught him to throw pots on a wheel he devised from the crankshaft of a motorcar engine. He soon built his own kiln and made stoneware in a workshop behind his Glen Iris home.  He made his own kick-wheel and started using feldspar and iron oxide to create celadon and tenmoku glazes with occasional use of dolomite for special effects.  His research into stoneware bodies and glazes was aided by Robert who was a ceramic technologist with the CSIRO.  He was strongly influenced by Bernard Leach, teaching himself to throw with the book propped up in front of him so that he could follow the illustrations.

In 1950 Hughan would contribute a chapter to Australian ceramic history by staging the first major exhibition of stoneware ceramics at the Georges department store gallery in Melbourne. His first retrospective exhibition was held in 1968 at the National Gallery of Victoria and a second exhibition (an exceptional honour) was held at the gallery in 1983 to commemorate his ninetieth birthday. In the catalogue accompanying this second exhibition, the then Director of the gallery, Patrick McCaughey, wrote that 'More than any other Australian ceramist Harold Hughan has been able to absorb the feel and colour of that landscape into his own practice and so returned something authentically and familiarly Australian to us.

With the greatest of goodwill, it is hard to see how this was the case.  Rather than making identifiably Australian pottery, Hughan actually worked in what was a powerful global style, that of Anglo-Oriental ceramics.  One couldn't tell whether a faceted celadon glazed jar was made in Melbourne or London, and even when Hughan produced a magnificent late series of temmoku glazed platters with decorations based on Australian wildflowers, the actual origin of the flora was not at all apparent, buried as they were in a calligraphic cipher of brown on black.

These were international pots made in response to Leach's philosophy of a timeless standard in ceramics and the primacy of traditional Oriental techniques and they were made in Australia just as they were made everywhere A Potter's Book was read.  The Powerhouse Museum has a potters wheel designed and made by Harold) in about 1941. This is probably the first potters wheel to be made in Australia for use in studio pottery. 

Hughan drew inspiration from the Herbert Kent collection of Chinese ceramics at the National Gallery of Victoria: his great love was the pots of the Song and T’ang Dynasties, but his interests encompassed many aspects of historic and contemporary practice. Seeking an `Australian idiom’, he also experimented with new forms. It was important to him that his pots were domestic, functional and affordable; yet they were also distinguished by subtle shapes and beautiful glazes, particularly the Orient-inspired celadons and tenmokus.

He gained a devoted following, especially for his large platters, decorated with oriental motifs, native iris or sprays of bamboo. While prolific, he worked at his own pace well into his nineties. `I do not make pottery for a living’, he said in 1984, `it [is] purely for pleasure, and always has been’.

An exhibition of Hughan’s work at Georges Gallery, Melbourne, in 1950, led to his becoming one of the first contemporary studio potters to be represented in the National Gallery of Victoria. Later exhibitions included major retrospectives at the NGV (1969, 1983).  His work has also been collected by the National Gallery of Australia; most Australian State and regional galleries and by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.  A member of the Arts and Crafts Society of Victoria since 1949, he was invited in 1970 to be the patron of the Victorian Ceramic Group, which established an award in his name. In 1978 he was appointed MBE.

He started potting full-time on his retirement in 1963 and remained a most significant and influential figure until his death in 1987. The National Gallery of Victoria showed a retrospective exhibition (with catalogue) in 1969, and another on the occasion of his 90th birthday in 1983, when Craft Australia published a special supplement.   He continued making pots into his nineties, dying in 1987 at the age of 94. His early works are marked H GI (for Glen Iris) in oxide. Works from 1945 are marked with an impressed H GI and may also be signed in oxide.

Predeceased by his wife (1966), and survived by his son, he died at Prahran, Melbourne, on 23 October 1987, and was buried in Springvale cemetery.  In 1978 he was awarded the MBE for his services to pottery.  In the 1940s, potters wheels would have been imported, but as an engineer, he had the ability to design and make his own. He was assisted in the building of kilns and development of clays by his son Robert (Bob) Hughan (b. 1925)


1 comment:

  1. I am Harold's grandson. I have one correction to make. The nickname 'Buzz' had nothing to do with him being an electrical engineer--ha ha!. It was actually down to a younger brother being unable to say 'brother' properly, and calling him his 'big buzzer'.