Otchipotchi Ceramics

Paula Valentim lives in a small village in Portugal, where she produces her simple, fragile porcelain products, in her workshop called Otchipotchi. The main source of inspiration for her creative work is Mother Nature.

It has been 15 years since Paula studied librarianship in the city of London. At that time, she became aware that she wanted to do something creative, to work with her hands, which would complement her intellectual and academic pursuits. She decided to learn the art of ceramic-making in evening courses and found out that this was what had she wanted to do for a long time; it was time for her to focus on her creative potential. But it still took some more time till she could move on from her work in London and return to Portugal, where she then studied ceramics at the ar.co Centro de Arte & Comunicacao Visual in Lisboa. She began selling her first products in spring 2010.

Although she has spent almost her entire life in big cities, she has always had a bond with nature and rural living, and she sees herself as a country girl. While talking about herself, she says she knows that she is a very introverted person, who enjoys being alone and thinks a lot about the purposes of things and events. This serious, calm aspect of her personality, and her love for nature, are reflected in the simple beauty of her art and the evocations of natural beauty in it.

Her creative work and her private life now mesh together totally, and are parts of a greater whole—which is why Paula has decided to integrate her studio into her house. She once tried to work in an exterior workshop, but it became apparent to her that this did not make sense, given the way she works. Whilst her studio is really tiny, every corner and niche in her house is used to store materials, or to photograph her newest vases, or to prepare the products for shipping. Even the garage has been converted into a laboratory where she conducts experiments.

Surrounded by nature and silence, Paula experiences a sense of freedom and draws all the inspiration she needs for her creative work. Whilst strolling around, she takes photographs and collects flowers, stones, sticks and all other natural objects that have the potential to serve as models, patterns or inspirations for a new product. In this way, tree pits serve as models for porcelain bowls and tea light holders, sticks become wall decorations, and calabashes turn into beautiful vases.


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