Breakfast, dinner, snacks, whatever – even if you’re just slinging some supermarket chips and dips, it’s sure to look great on Janel Reid’s beautifully crafted tableware. And, as we eat with our eyes, then it will surely taste better, too. A relative newcomer to ceramics, having started only in 2016, Janel is buzzing after a sell-out day at the Mur Mur pop-up market organised by Holly Houston and Ellen J Hemmings. “It was amazing, with such a mix of people and positive energy. It was unbelievably busy.”
Stars of the day were her divided platters, affectionately known as Prison Platters. Taking inspiration from a bento box rather than a compartmentalised food service tray from a correctional facility, Janel makes these elegant shallow trays and dishes in two finishes, a matte glaze and a white speckle; choose a tray with built-in sections or mix and match colours, shapes and sizes. All these, as well as her dinner sets and other tableware, are made at home on Janel’s kitchen table and fitted in around her part-time accounting job and family life.
Casting around for an outlet for her creativity, she initially began working as a volunteer with Holly Houston Ceramics. “I just watched, that’s how I learn,” says Janel, “And that’s how I found what I was in to. I wanted to find my groove and I did. It felt comfortable and suited our family lifestyle.”
Her favourite part of the creative process is crafting the clay itself. “I like making and seeing the shelves fill up. I’ll put on a podcast or some music and make and make and make. It’s very relaxing, just perfect.”
Visit Al Brown’s restaurant, Depot, and you may be eating from Janel’s tableware as she crafts side plates, slider plates and cutlery pots for the restaurant. She says that Al and many other restaurateurs love to present their food on handmade dinnerware and it’s surprisingly durable in a commercial environment. In fact one dinner set recently was put to an extreme test when it was mistakenly left in the back of her husband’s truck, then taken for a hard-out drive through the dunes.“Oh, is that what that sound was in the back?” he said, “I was going really hard, too, because you weren’t there!” It took Janel a day to find the courage to look in the box, but not a single item was broken. / @_breakfast.for.dinner_