The virtual has become reality…

smoke fired in raku kiln porcelain beakers

Smoke fired porcelain beakers

with my very first stockist. A big thanks to Eran Naylor at Studio Kingfisher, 13 Victoria Ave, Albert Park, VIC who after seeing my black fired pieces on Etsy has placed a order for her new store  A jewellery maker by trade Eran has taken the bold step of opening a store.

If you are in the area or visiting Melbourne drop in and say hello. You’re bound to leave with a little treasure which will give you pleasure for many years to come.

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If it were bricks and mortar….

my little Etsy shop would have cob webs in the corner and the faint malodorous scent of a bored sales assistant. No more – those following me on Instagram would have seen the image of a kiln waiting to be opened. Below are the little sooty black jewels of my first smoke firing for 2014 and they are now available in my store.

My bowls and beakers are made mainly from porcelain; imprinted with leaves and then smoked fired. For non-ceramic folk, smoke firing is a when you fire objects in containers full of combustible material, eg. sawdust. As the material burns off the carbon is trapped in the clay creating a matt black colour.

All the bowls and beakers are waterproof making them ideal for floating one perfect bloom or small bouquet.

Aah it’s good to be back.

smoke fired porcelain cup and bowl Elisa Bartels

Smoked fired porcelain cup and bowl

Mixed clay smoke fired bowl

Mixed clay smoke fired bowl


Trio of smoke fired glasses  Elisa Bartels

Trio of smoke fired glasses

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The Eightfold Path of Clay…..

broken pottery bowls

When Siddhartha Gautama stood up from the Bodhi tree after reaching enlightenment his first thoughts were, “I’ve got to tell all my pottery mates about enlightenment?”. Why? If you have done ceramics long enough, the art of letting go is something that you must swiftly master or else you’ll feel like putting your head in the kiln rather than the next lot of work.

Buddha knew that he would be ‘preaching to the choir’ when he spoke to potters of life being all about dukkha (suffering, anxiety and unsatisfactoriness). When you embark on the ceramic path you need to embrace uncertainty and impermanence. The impermanence that arises when the batch of coloured slip you’ve made numerous time suddenly gives you a different result; the uncertainty of being able to consistently obtain the materials you need for completion of a project. Aaah yes, we in this crazy world of clay are consistently at the mercy of many forces outside our control.

So how am I learning equanimity in the face of another dud firing, broken pieces, crazy glaze outcome? By following my own customised, courtesy of the Buddha, Eightfold Path.

1. Right view: Upon opening the kiln I try looking at what is in front of me clearly and unemotionally. Most times this can only be done after a period of stepping away from the kiln so that I can obliterate from my mind what I expected to see.

2. Right intention: Freeing my mind from desired outcomes. Sometimes the kiln god give you a little present/accident which is better than expected.

3. Right speech: Fairly self explanitory. No f&#@, sh4%, f$$$$. Instead, taking a deep breath and saying, “What has happened and how can I fix it?” The first reaction is such a waste of time and clouds your mind to the solution. (It’s so difficult as I love a good swearing fit.)

4. Right action: When I’ve dissected the situation; taken a photo of the problem or written about it in my journal; then I destroy the piece/s. Having them in my presence puts my mind into a negative gear and doesn’t allow me to move on.

5. Right livelihood: This one is a bit tricky. For me it boils down to “Why am I doing this?” I often ask myself this questions and it helps me see the bigger picture.

6. Right effort: Directly linked with no. 5. It’s all about making the effort to improve and innovate and not beating yourself up when an idea doesn’t work. Moving forward confidently.

7. Right mindfulness: Taking a few minutes to look into myself and discovering where my mind is at the very moment before I begin working. I try hard not to use any negative self talk when assessing my state of being. It’s rather pointless to lamblast yourself for not being ‘in the zone’. Best just go straight to no. 8.

8. Right concentration: After assessing my mental attitude I take a few minutes to address any tension which will hold me back from achieving my goals. I normally do this by closing my eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Sometimes if the swirl of everyday life is particularly cyclonic I repeat this mantra “Do your best in all you can control and don’t put any effort into that which you cannot.”

And sighing, lots and lots of sighing. I find it’s a physical way of accepting and releasing the uncontrollable aspects of life.

I am far from enlightened as all those who know and work with me will attest. Hell, I love a good swear fest as much as the next person and sometimes it can be a great stress reliever. This is my set of guidelines, used when I need to be calm and cool in the face of calamity.

Now can someone point me to a Bodhi Tree. After breaking all these pieces I need some time under it’s gentle branches.

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The magic and mystery of…..

art and the artisan.

Electric Kiln Firing

What comes out sometimes constitutes a mystery. Just ask any potter.

When I was a kid and the magician pulled the rabbit out of the hat I was too busy smiling and laughing at the wonder of that trick to care about how it was achieved and today for the most part I still feel the same when it comes to magic and art.

When I see works of art which mesmerises and captivates, I don’t want to know how it was achieved. What’s more important to me is not the technicality but the emotion that art elicits. To know is to dismiss that wonder and reduce it to the parts of its sum which I find mundane and uninspiring.

Don’t get me wrong I’m all for the dissemination of information and the sharing of expertise; but I can also understand the artist or artisan who is cagey about divulging their hard earned skills. I can empathise if they are made to ‘spill the beans’; because I’m certain that they have gone through some heartache and headache to tease apart the technicalities of their work and perfect it. Lets be clear – I’m not talking about skills inherent to an art/craft practice; I believe it is the duty of every artist to pass on this knowledge to as many interested people so that their craft does not fade away.

What I’m writing about is when you have an idea that you have either never seen before or seen done badly. You sweat, you try – fail – and try again; you don’t give up until the pieces start falling into place. Then (hopefully) you get to that moment of pure joy when it all comes together. That magic and mystery has been hard won and I for one would be reticent in asking an artist too many questions.

Without sounding too grand – working on a new concept is similar to going on quest. A journey into the unknown – exciting and frightening, in equal measures. It takes courage, skill, ingenuity and a good deal of perserverance to reach your destination. Once there you don’t necessary want to give the gps co-ordinates to anyone else and I can fully understand that sentiment.

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Better late than…

2014 - it's all about the tiles.

2014 – it’s all about the tiles.

ignoring this new year and waiting till 2015.

Happy new year and apologies for my lack of Christmas cheer. My fingers have been busy putting tiles together. “Still!” I hear you cry. “Yes, Still.”, but I’m nearly there. 2013 was a year of perseverance and patience. Christmas really snuck up on me and it was all I could do to keep my head above the rising tide of commitments.

Here I find myself in 2014 having nearly finished one of my biggest creative career challenges and looking forward to seeing where it will take me. I swore off making new year resolutions a while back. Grand declarations have only landed me into hot water and coupled with ‘egg on my face’ it can all get a bit messy.

So instead of resolutions, I’m going to give myself some new year challenges. I will be challenging myself to consistently promote my work throughout the year; to ‘cold call’ stockists and even ‘cold enter’ which is when you just walk into a prospective stockist with samples and a prayer. I will be challenging myself to write more press releases and approach much loved blogs – Lucy from The Design Files I hope you’re reading this.

Challenges always sound so much more adventurous and fun than resolutions, most of which tend to centre around deprivation and self admonishment. Join me gentle reader in ditching the resolution and embracing the challenge.

Happy 2014.

PS: Apologies for the blue tinged photo. I have to spend some time discovering how my camera actually works. It’s a Canon EOS60D and I can’t seem to get a crisp white background. All and any advice welcome.

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Shopping with Soul

(Picture me belting this out like Aretha Franklin, wooden spoon in hand)
Unique, handmade ceramics art and design at Kerrie Lowe's annual Christmas show and sale.

Kerrie Lowe Christmas 2013

It’s that time of the year again when we buy to say “thank you” or “I love you” and sometimes “bloody hell, you again”. Whether you’re buying for loved or not-so-loved ones it can be stressful and soul destroying shopping in a mall or department store.
This year make a change and support local artisans and artists. Tonight is the opening of Kerrie Lowe’s Christmas 2013 show. I went in last week to drop off my grungy little beauties and I can attest to the gallery being full to the brim with handmade, unique, contemporary ceramic art and functional ware. It’s on until 24 December so don’t worry if you can’t make it on opening night. My darling and I will be there tonight for anyone who wants to come along and say hi.
PopUpClay Flyer (For some reason the Pop Up Clay poster will not ‘pop up’ so please click on the link for shop details
For something more intimate ‘Pop Up Clay’ is a group of 8 friends (including me) who have come together in a 3 day only pop up shop in Surry Hills. Opening night is Friday, 6 December and the shop will trade till Sunday, 8 December. There is a cornucopia of ceramic treasures to be found from jewellery to tableware to art pieces. Let this talented bunch of folk help you find something to wow family and friends
At both venues there will be a chance to meet the artists and artisans, support their creative hardwork and shop with a drink in hand. How civilised – beat that Westfield!!
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Go along to Clay Day at Eveleigh Artisan Market

Clay Day at EveleighCelebrate ceramics at Clay Day at Eveleigh!
Celebrate the best in ceramics with Clay Day, a ceramics showcase being held at Eveleigh Artisans’ Market on Sunday, 3 November 2013.

Market goers will not only have access to the work of some of the best artists working in ceramics today – they will also be able to learn more about working with clay themselves with special demonstrations, workshops and unique, one-off pieces available to buy. Running from 10am-3pm, 23 artists will be exhibiting beautiful must-have ceramic pieces – Simone Young will be demonstrating jewellery making, Maggie Paradysz will be creating a ceramic sculpture and Pauline Ryan will be making
cute ceramic animals.

The talented artists with their ceramics work on show include: Canbora Bayraktar, Susan Buckton, Joey Burns, Irene Charnas, Adriana Christianson, Carleen Devine, Cath Fogarty (China Clay), Ashley Fiona, Vicki Grima, Amanda Hale, Louisa Hart, Amanda Hawthorn, Helen Hay, Janette Loughrey, Louise Martiensen, Maggie Paradyz, Pauline Ryan, Tony Schlosser, Lindy Rose Smith, Catherine Tate, Natalie Velthuyzen, Jo Wood, Simone Young and The Australian Ceramics Association.

Have a great time folks. Wish I could be there to share it with you.


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