I started UDUMBARA and making kitchenware pottery in 1994. My first product was a stoneware sauerkraut/kimchi jar for “city” gourmet people. You could easily disinfect it in the oven and it fitted in a refrigerator.
In my youth I lived in Massachusetts and got acquainted with with Shaker movements minimalism and simplicity of their beautiful everyday objects at Hancock Shaker Village. Their functional aspect has inspired me while creating the small scale series for Udumbara.
After attending Somero II International Ceramic seminar in Kultela Brick Factory in 1999. I got to know the owner and master of the brick factory in Kultela, Arvo Kankare.
There I got my first touch and passion for the beautiful but demanding Finnish wild clay and with Arvos guidance started to make functional products with it.
Inventing the bag-in-box wine cooler took me all away to China where I worked in ceramic project in periods in Yixing, Dingshu town (2004–2006).
Here is a photo of one of my best moments in Dingshu: The men at the factory could not believe that I can throw clay. They where astonished when I showed them my throwing. The women in the factory cheered me with laughter and this was how I earned the respect from the men.
After seeing all the factories there and the pollution there. I felt that there was no longer reason or demand for the way I was still doing pottery in Finland and started to work at Helsinki Airport.
Luckily I have found back my passion for pottery. Now I exclusively work with Finnish wild clay. I love making simple wildclay terracotta flowerpots and bit modernised versions of Nordic rustic kitchenware.
A fashion brand Samuji home collection carries Udumbara made wildclay flowerpots, and I am happy that they have been selling well.
The wild clay has it’s own temperamental nature that needs patience when working but I enjoys the rewarding results that are lively and tactile. The material is very delicate and her bigger objects will require months of ageing of the clay before firing. The material gives the products a wonderfully rich earthy character.
By choosing this raw material I want to emphasize the unique value of local natural clay. Finnish natural clay is warm, homely and above all an ecological choice, because as a natural raw material it does not require complex processing and it is fired to a ready product at a low temperature.
I love this photo by Heli Blåfield , you can really feel in it the earth connection of a wildclay teacup.
I got get acquainted with tea ceremony in Yixing and currently I am focusing on tea ceremony and creating tea ceremony sets with a Nordic twist. Thanks to the Kultela clay’s porous nature and its rich iron and other mineral content, tea brewed in wild clay pot a develops a richer flavor.
The processes for a new products is long as I aim to reach high quality in design and in function. You are welcome to follow and attend my design process at Instagram and Facebook (udumbara_helsinki).