Unearth Your Local Potter – Come and visit me.


Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 August 2014
10am – 4pm

Below is The Australian Ceramics Association press release for this upcoming fantastic event. This year I have decided to take part and open my studio all weekend. Makers, myself included, work away in studios and it can be quite a solitary environment so it’s exciting to be able to open the doors to my world (aka dusty, slightly shambolic, studio) and welcome visitors.

Details of my studio and the many others which are opening can be found at the link on the bottom of the press release.

Looking forward to seeing some old faces and many, many new ones.


Some of the world’s most significant moments have included mud, from the biblical creation of Adam to that famous mind altering festival at Woodstock and although we find ourselves in an age of rapidly advancing technologies, this humble, sticky stuff, continues to inspire and obsess thousands of makers throughout the world who still call themselves ‘potters’.

This August, hundreds of potters across Australia will open their studios to the public over a weekend that promises to be a celebration of clay, creativity and community. The event is hosted by The Australian Ceramics Association (TACA).

According to Shannon Garson, TACA President and an award winning full-time potter, the Australian Ceramics Open Studios is an exciting event that shines a spotlight on Australian ceramics and Australian artists whose primary medium is clay.

“The open studios weekend is an important event for both clay workers and the community. It’s an event that fosters the development, appreciation and recognition of potters and pottery throughout Australia.

Over 130 ceramics studios around the nation have registered for the Australian Ceramics Open Studios – from well-known exhibiting artists to lesser known skilled artisans, from inner city studios to regional pottery groups – so connect with your local studio trail and plan your weekend of mud.

Many artists will offer practical demonstrations and you may even be asked to share a pot of tea from a handmade teapot. There will also be opportunities galore to take home a handmade piece, direct from the maker.

For a full listing of the open studios visit: http;//tinyurl.com/openstudios2014

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It has been a feast….

of publicity for me of late. First the Manly Daily popped me into Thursday lifestyle section; the Paredes Online wrote an article about me  and now I have to send a big fat thank you to Vicki at the Australian Ceramics Association for including me in the latest issue of The Journal of Australian Ceramics. This issue’s theme is Emerging and what a giant pool of gifted people can be seen in its pages. I am so pleased and humbled to be surrounded by such talented folk. You can find your own copy here or search your local newsagency.  It’s worth the pennies – beautiful pictures and great stories of mud and mud folk.


Elisa Bartels in The Journal of Australian Ceramics, Vol 53 No. 2.

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A few months ago I was approached for an interview by Dana who along with her friend Samantha have a blog named Paredes Online. They write about Sydney creatives and their workspaces.  Dana had seen my work on Etsy and was curious to meet me.

Elisa Bartels in Paredes Online

Elisa Bartels in Paredes Online

I was gobsmacked that they wanted to interview me but we have a lovely rainy afternoon together with lots of giggling, drinking coffee and eating biscuits.

Thank you Dana and Samantha for writing such a lovely article about me and my work. It was loads of fun.

Go here to read the article.

PS: Sam, I hope your boyfriend did well in his exams, or was it an assignment which was due?

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When is it too late…

I’m watching a popular cooking show which features contestants battling it out in team challenges, using ingredients from a mystery box to create restaurant quality food and every week 3 of them face an elimination round where at the end one of them hangs up their apron and goes home.

Porcelain, black fired beaker with a leaf imprint, 2014.

Porcelain, black fired beaker with a leaf imprint, 2014.

Time was up for one of the contestants who was a young guy in his late 20s (27 to be precise). A wonderful, humble and ernest person who had the epiphany whilst on the show that becoming a chef was his life path. He said it was the clearest he had ever felt about anything and was excited to have such clarity about his future. Then he uttered words to the effect of “Better late than never, I know I’m starting late in my career but that’s ok.”.

Starting late in a career at 27? What does that mean for me who at an older age has just now discovered where my true passion lies. I’m just as excited as this young guy and putting in a lot of hard work to make my passion and my products into a viable business. In this new millenium when the first world’s population is living longer; are we still viewing age through a past prism?

Elisa Bartels, Large porcelain, blackfired bowl, 2014.

Large porcelain, blackfired bowl, 2014.

In my younger years I didn’t have the clarity that I needed to pursue my dreams. I didn’t have the personality either – I was easily distracted, impetuous and for the most part trying to be someone that didn’t feed my soul. All my experiences, my successes and many failures have led me to this point where I can say to myself, “You are not giving up, you are going to succeed at this and enjoy every part of your chosen path in life. You will enjoy it’s ups and downs; you will reconcile yourself to the sacrifices you have to make to bring this dream to fruition.”

My epiphany came at a much later stage in life than that young man’s but it is just as valid and just as exciting.

Elisa Bartels, Black fired porcelain bowl with silver markings.

Black fired porcelain bowl with silver markings, 2014.

PS: The images for this post are of my latest work. Whilst it may seem like a blatant plug (ok, maybe a little), the fragility of the object and method of firing is incompatible and I’ve had many failures before success arrived. They represent the quiet contemplation and maturity needed to solve the problem so I thought them appropriate for this post.

Blatant Plug: For those of you who have asked when they will be available I’ve just put them into my Etsy store.

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When opportunity knocks…..

A while back my step daughter, Tashie, asked “How did you get to have such an interesting life?”. It was a lovely compliment from one so young and it came on the back of her patiently listening to me tell yet another story from the time I spent working in a cooking school in Umbria, Italy.

Elisa Bartels, 2014, smoke fired porcelain bowl with camellia

Elisa Bartels, 2014, smoke fired porcelain bowl with camellia

I had to take a little time to go back through my life, thinking about all my adventures and how they had come about.  I came to a very simple conclusion. I have said Yes more than no.

Elisa Bartels, 2014, smoke fired porcelain vase filled with natives and exotics

Elisa Bartels, 2014, smoke fired porcelain vase filled with natives and exotics.

I have said Yes to things I had never done before. I have said Yes to people I barely knew who asked for my help. I have said Yes even when my whole mind was wracked by fear.

Elisa Bartels, 2014, smoke fired ceramic pot with succulent.

Elisa Bartels, 2014, smoke fired ceramic pot with succulent.

So I said to Tashie, “Be brave and say Yes as often as you can. Say Yes with confidence and a smile even if your brain is screaming “What the hell are you doing? Shut up!!!” Just keep saying Yes, Yes,Yes and adventures will come. Then if you’re lucky there will come a time when you will be telling a young girl all about your adventures and she will ask, “How did you get to have such an interesting life.””.

PS: I will never say yes to jumping out of a plane which is in perfect working order. Don’t bother asking.




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It’s a big world out there….

and you may be thinking about taking the plunge and looking for stockists. Maybe you’ve been approached by a stockist and are reeling from the shock. Here’s a great little article that I wrote along with Vicki Grima, Editor of The Journal of Australian Ceramics all about selling your work. JAC 523 pages 109-111

The Journal of Australian Ceramics

The Journal of Australian Ceramics

It can be bamboozling when you first start out so we’ve tried to keep it simple and have even included an example of a consignment note and tax invoice. Read this article and you’ll be looking and sounding like a professional in no time.

This is the current issue of The Journal of Australian Ceramics and in case you’re wondering the cover features the work of the very talented Kim-Anh Nguyen. The journal is packed full of beautiful ceramic objects, articles about their creators and lots more. It is available both hardcopy and digitally. If you are interested in purchasing a copy (and who wouldn’t be) just click here for more information.

“This article was published in Issue 52/3 of The Journal of Australian Ceramics, November 2013. Permission has been given to make it available on this website. © The Australian Ceramics Association 2013″


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When all is said and done……

Elisa Bartels Ceramic Designs floating mosaic

Elisa Bartels; North Curl Curl Pool; 2013; H:1800cm, W: 1800cm.

I generally find that the saying is always easier than the doing. Folks who know me can attest that I talk ‘a good game’. That ‘blagging’ gave me my very first commission. I persuaded a lovely person to have faith in my vision and no sooner had she commissioned me to produce my first ever ‘floating mosaic’ I experienced a rush of elation; quickly, actually simultaneously, followed by a knee buckling fear. That fear had a name and it’s name was doing.

Elisa Bartels ceramic designs, floating mosaic

I had to stop saying and jump into the crazy, unpredictable world of doing. That doing has taken 16 months but the done, in my humble opinion, is a sight to behold. After all the tears, tearing of hair, doing and re-doing, feeling deflated and defeated, then rising from the sub-micron particles of a big, fat mound of clay dust and starting again – it is DONE.

Readers, first and long time, I present to you my floating mosaic. It is an abstract interpretation of an aerial view of my client’s favourite sea pool. When she saw it installed we hugged, looked at it together and hugged again. Don’t know how many future clients I will be hugging, but being the first it was very special.

Elisa Bartels ceramic floating mosaic

So now to the Academy Awards part of this post. I would like to thank my client, Susie for having faith in my vision and her perpetual patience in the length of time it took to complete. To my darling Eymard for picking me up from that dusty mound and giving me a much needed stern talking to followed by a kiss; for his ingenuity in mounting my floating mosaic and doggard faith in me. To all my friends and Chris James at Northern Beaches Ceramics who offered valuable advice and solace. To Phil West from Sheerline who made the frame and put up with all my changes and to Page Wholesale Jewellery Supplies for helping me pick the right rings for the job.

Elisa Bartels ceramic design, floating mosaic

Elisa Bartels; 2013; North Curl Curl Pool

I Came, I Said, I Did..



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