Ceramics designer, Evdokia Savva, from Cyprus, knows clay better than the back of her hand. “I love all the different qualities of clay,” she says. “How it is transformed from something soft, to something strong once fired. I love its colour changes, from the bone dry stage to the glazing stage.”
She thoroughly enjoys working with clay every time she creates something. “My mind switches off instantly and I just enjoy the making process and all the transformations that happen during this journey,” she says.
Evdokia’s current interest lies in the revival of crafts in general. “I am interested to see how other makers/designers approach this theme, ranging from furniture, and basketry to jewellery and ceramics.”
In her spare time (which she admits is rare), Evdokia enjoys drawing. “Since I was at school, my favourite drawing tools were soft pastels. I love the colour ranges and how easily they blend together, creating a fine composition,” she says. “I do not feel restricted as of what I can do with them. I find that if you know how to work with soft pastels, then whatever you draw will look pretty much realistic.”
Evdokia’s Masters Project is called the Undercut Terracotta Tableware series. “The aim was to sensitively revive our traditional Cypriot tableware with a new aesthetic approach,” she says.
She gathered inspiration from ancient traditional Cypriot terracotta tableware and the traditional motifs and patterns used to decorate the traditional ceramics. “I had to do lots of research, read lots of books and try to understand how ceramics differed from one period to another in order to be able to grasp the history of Cypriot ceramics,” she says.
“I also had to visit museums, ceramics factories that are still in use in
Cyprus, I had to carefully observe their pieces and making methods and see if they made any significant changes in ceramics over the years.”
A key inspiration to her was the use of handles on ceramics bowls during the B.C. times, she says. “I was very intrigued by that. After lots of experimentation, that is when I realised that you do not always have to add a handle on to something, but you can take something away from an object and still create a handle. Thus, that is where the idea of the ‘undercut’ was inspired from.”
“The signature of the Undercut Terracotta tableware series is of course the undercut. That is the key element of the dishes. It is inspired by the notion of the handle, which is why the undercut works both as a functional as well as an aesthetic element.”
After establishing the idea to use terracotta for her ceramics, Evdokia quickly decided that she wanted to leave the exterior side of the dishes unglazed in order to reveal the nature of the clay, she says. “I would have a glazed interior, creating a nice contrast between the earthiness of the clay on the outside and the smoothness of the glaze on the inside.”
Although Evdokia has a strong passion for ceramics making and design, she also had some difficulties as she questioned whether her work would appeal to people. “At the beginning I was a bit hesitant in using terracotta because I assumed that it would not attract people, especially the younger generation who I was really interested in bringing closer to our culture, traditions and history,” she says.
“I assumed that terracotta would be presumed as something old, rustic and folksy, something entirely opposite of what I was trying to achieve, but after lots of discussions with my tutors and after seeing that other ceramists have managed to use terracotta in a contemporary way, that is when I became more open minded and realised that if you use the material in the right way, then you can avoid making something that looks rustic,” she added.
It took Evdokia two yours during her Masters to complete her project, which she fully dedicated herself to. “The actual making started in the second year, since the first year was mostly research based. In order to end up having the final pieces and shapes, it took me around four months from production to completion,” she says.
Currently, Evdokia has her own studio and has finished a big order of the White Undercut Terracotta tableware from a big London design store, she says. “I am really excited to see people’s response once they are displayed!”
Having completed her terracotta project, Evdokia is thinking of exploring the idea of ceramics with painted birds on the mirrored image of the undercut inside of the dishes as she was reminded of birds and seagulls during the creation process and now wants to create a connection between the two.
About her future goals, Evdokia shares with us that she hopes to “one day be able to live just from this [ceramics design] profession, without having to do something else for a living. That would be amazing and a dream come true after all these years!”
Secondly, she would like to spread the appreciation of handmade designs to people. “Through my own designs and tableware, I would like to make people appreciate and understand our culture and traditions better.”
Although this particular series is finished, she is still keen to explore and revive the Cypriot tableware and continue introducing new lines to the series. “I would love to work and experiment more with the traditional patterns and motifs, and translate them into something contemporary,” she says.
“Fortunately, my source of inspiration is unlimited, so I am open to anything new and challenging.”