Marcelo Dornelas





Marcelo Dornelas is a plant biology University Professor who lives in Brazil that has a love and passion for ceramics. He is more commonly known by his artist name “Rebekka Pitanga” and makes traditional and unique pieces using our glazes.





Interview with Marcelo Dornelas

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A common misconception people have about me is that I am a girl… Rebekka and Pitanga are the names of my two dogs (they are female pugs) and these names together make the name of my ceramics “brand”… So Rebekka turned out as a “stage” or “artist” name… My “real life” name is Marcelo Dornelas, I am a 50 year-old man and I am a plant biology professor at a Brazilian University in Sao Paulo State (south-eastern Brazil). My native language is Brazilian Portuguese, but I also speak other languages because I made my PhD in plant sciences in Paris, France (where I lived for 5 years during the 1990´s) and I also lived in a small town in The Netherlands for a year or so…

What drew you towards working with ceramics?

My parents always supported any artistic activity when I was a child and I was always driven into visual or plastic arts as (to my dismay) I am NOT endowed with musical skills at all (*laughs*)… Although my “day time job” is being a university professor, I am totally devoted to ceramics during my free time. I take it quite seriously and I try to learn as much as I can about all the techniques involved. I might consider turning ceramics into my full-time job when I retire from the university.

How would you define the style of your work?

I like to make functional pieces, especially bowls and plates. As I got more confident with the wheel, I slowly grew away from slab-built pieces… But I always find time to do some more “sculptural” or “conceptual” work whenever I want to learn some new technique or when I want to do something playful for my friends and nephews.

How do Mayco glazes and products fit into your work?

I absolutely love Mayco glazes because they are so reliable! What I see in pictures on their website is what I get onto my pieces! And there are so many colors and textures available! These qualities are essential to me because I can focus only on my imagination and skills with clay. I always know how my pieces should look like and I don’t have to worry whether the glaze colors will turn out different from what I already have in my mind.

Can you tell us a little about your studio space?

How important is your environment in the conceptualization of your work? I have a home studio and I guess there is where I can find my inner peace. It is the quieter and calmer place in my house where I can spend time with my dogs (although they use to snore a lot *laughs*)… I guess these quiet and peaceful moments are quite important to my production process.

We noticed that you create traditional pieces as well as abstract. Can you briefly describe your production process?

Although the initial ideas for my pieces occur to me at random odd moments while I am working or commuting, my studio is where I can mold these ideas into the real world and this is a precious moment to me. I certainly do not get those ideas right every time, as ceramics really is about letting it go and realizing that sometimes you can’t control everything. Especially when I am working on the wheel… as sometimes the final piece just “evolves” from whatever my initial idea was.

Where do you get your design inspiration from?

I certainly have my “heroes” and artists that I look up to… These include many American ceramists such as Paul Lyon, Alex Thullen, Michael Kline and Peter Beard just to cite a few. I also appreciate many Brazilian ceramists that influenced me a lot like Vicente Cardia (@vicentecardia) and Cesar Augusto Barbosa (@cesaraugustobarbosa) which were the “formal masters” that thought me much of the basics in ceramics.

Can you tell us about any future projects?

Gosh! I have a looong to-do list that I wouldn’t know where to start with… I have so many combinations of Mayco glazes I’d like to test and explore that not even if I produced hundreds of pieces everyday and even if I lived thousands of years I would be able to achieve!!

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I guess when I am not working for my “day-time-job”, I am working with ceramics so there is not much escape from one of these two. Nonetheless, not to give you this kind of paranoid impression, I could say I like cooking a lot… especially savory “exotic” recipes, that takes too many ingredients and are time-consuming… once I’ve prepared a lamb barbecue with grilled legumes in a pit fire… It took me two days to prepare it (and it was a feast to remember for my entire family for a lifetime *laughs*).

Projects by Marcelo Dornelas