Cone 11 Ceramics and Porcelume

Words: Manuela Millan

We had a great day at the Mercator building at Abbotsford Convent, the home of Cone 11 Ceramics and Porcelume.
It was a lovely sunny day at the workshop, when we visited Ilona Topolcsanyi from Cone 11 finishing some tableware commissioned for a restaurant. We also met Colin Hopkins, the maker behind Porcelume, as he was working on a medium size shade using the art of hand‐throwing porcelain, a skill that he has mastered through the years.

We had a chat with both of them about their work and their passion for ceramics.


MM:  When did you start making ceramics?

IT: After completing a Bachelor in Health Sciences and then working in call centre, I realised I wanted to do something creative with my hands. I completed a short course at Carlton Arts Centre (Nicholson St Carlton) in 2000 and then after travelling went on to complete further studies at Box Hill Institute of TAFE.

CH: After returning from a trip to Japan in 2005. I then completed a short course at Northcote Pottery and went on to complete further studies at Box Hill Institute of TAFE.


MM: Where do you draw inspiration from?

IT: Classical forms from the past.

CH: I am constantly exploring the intertwined relationship between ceramics, music and architecture and I continue to work within all 3 disciplines.

The food is the picture, the plate is the frame.
— Ilona Topolcsanyi

MM: What’s been the greatest achievement in your career?

IT: Making all the tableware for the G20 Summit Dinner at QGOMA in 2014 – an event attended by by several notables including Barak Obama…

CH: Creating and maintaining a working pottery studio @ Abbotsford Convent for nearly 10 years.


MM: How important is social media for your business?

IT: It provides us with numerous opportunities to connect with and share with other potters (especially those that we may not typically have met).

CH: Ilona takes care of all social media connections – I am a self-confessed luddite who still likes to read a real, paper copy of the Age…

Central to our philosophy is a desire to share the deep sense of satisfaction that comes from hand crafting every one of our individually thrown ceramic pendant lights.

MM: What are you hoping for the future?

IT: I want to build a wood fired kiln and move towards developing a body of sculptural pieces that would provide a contrast to the large volume of functional work that I currently produce. Complete a Masters in Fine Arts/ Ceramics.

CH: A back that is a little less stiff in the morning…!

MM: Where do you get coffee and food in Melbourne?

IT: Coffee: Cams Café & Gallery (Abbotsford Convent)/ Food: Ovens St Bakery (Ovens St Brunswick)

CH: Coffee: Loafer Bread / North Island (Nth Fitzroy) / Food: we have a tab at Meatsmith…
Gertrude St Enoteca – food, coffee, wine, general joy…