Elisa Bartels ceramics kiln

Promises. Some people make lists to keep them on track. They write down each item on a ‘to do’ list and meticulously tick them off upon completion. I am one of those people right up to the point where I reach a task I realllllllly don’t want to do. Now, I have cleverly put that job close to the bottom of my list so I feel as if I’m on the path and achieving my goals. It feels great putting a line through all my ‘to dones’

Then I reach that one thing I really don’t want ‘to do’ on my ‘to do’.

After much soul searching and mediation I have come to the conclusion that the best (and only) way to beat the petulant toddler that resides within me is to make a promise. Not just a promise to myself by a public promise and what more public a forum can there be but the world wide web. I give you MYOP (Mind Your Own Promise).

I’m invoking MYOP when it comes to my kiln. I bought this kiln a few years ago when I didn’t have a studio. So it sat there and I said to myself ,”When I have a studio I will connect it and use it.” Easy to say a little harder to do. You see good readers I get nervous when it comes to firing. I’d like to believe that I’m quite fearless in many aspects of my art practice but just looking at this kiln gives me the ‘fight or flight’ response.

Today I gave myself a pep talk in the mirror. Don’t snicker, I know there are others who practise this form of tough love. “Wake up to yourself Elisa. It’s time to take charge and show that kiln who’s boss.” I said with gusto.

So folks this is my solemn MYOP to myself and you.

I Elisa Bartels will commence making items to fire in my kiln. The first firing will be done before the middle of the year.

PS: Feel free to keep reminding me of my MYOP. I’m counting on you to give me a pep talk to keep my MYOP

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Elisa Bartels instagramming at #clayeverywednesday


Since I started down this muddy road I am always being asked questions about my work and the processes involved in creating my pieces. So I’ve decided to start instagramming at #clayeverywednesday. I think the title is quite self explanatory. Every Wednesday you’ll get a snapshot of my studio day. From making through to firing you’ll be privy to a snapshot of the experimentation, tribulations, catastrophes, triumphs and general hard toil that is ceramics.

Please drop in and say ‘like’.

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There will be no pictures of feet (since when does this denote a new year), no lengthy lists of last year’s achievements or this year’s resolutions, hopes, dreams, goals. It’s a new year and I have no bloody idea what’s going to happen. I know what I’d like to have happen; but ‘who the hell knows’ if it will happen, even if you work really, really, really hard to make it happen.

This is not a post of despair or despondency; just a ‘cheerio’ from me to you and to tell you that I will return. After a short break away from the daily grind, because it can become a grind even if you love what you’re doing. After a few weeks of sitting in a car, sitting in cafes with my family, sitting by a river, sitting near a pool I will be back.

Back to tidy my studio, pay my Etsy fees, back to submitting for exhibitions and talking to interior designers and other creatives about my floating mosaics and the reasons why every interior/exterior should have one in a place of pride and high visibility.

So please stay tuned for whatever is going to happen in 2015. I have no idea but when it happens you will be among the first to know.

Community Service Announcement: Apologies if this post read like a stream of consciousness. My only excuse is that I have been reading way too many blogs which feature photos of feet, long lists of goals and achievements and a girl can only take so much. I must stop now before I continue to ramble and then I will have to make another community service announcement about my previous community service announcement. Okay, stopping now.


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Chipping Away…..

Everyone has heard the quote “A pictures tells a thousand words” and no more is that true than in the modern world where as a creative person your calling card are the images you send to prospective clients. These are a few images from my last exhibition Insitu @ 1 O’Connell St which was held in September 2014.

Elisa Bartels floating mosaic "The Spit" at 1 O'Connell St, Sydney

Insitu @ 1 O’Connell St, Sydney; September 2014

I am lucky to know a fantastic photographer Greg Piper who is passionate about his work and has an affinity with ceramics and that’s what you need my creative pals out there in the interworld. Find yourself a Greg, a photographer who is professional but knows how to have fun on a shoot; someone who considers all your crazy ideas and answers your endless questions about photography with patience and grace.

Yes it’s more expensive than doing it yourself and if you feel confident in your photographic skills then by all means ‘snap away’. However, when you’ve finished a seminal piece then invest in yourself and your creative business and ring a Greg.

Insitu @ 1 O'Connell St, Sydney. Elisa Bartels  floating mosaic

Elisa Bartels; “The Spit Bridge”; 2014

Getting traction any creative industry is hard, rentless (but fun) work. As I chip away at promoting my work to people in the appropriate industries it’s gives me confidence to know that my calling card are beautiful images which truly reflect my work. Now I’m off to knock on another door. Wish me luck.

Elisa Bartels floating mosaic close up.

Elisa Bartels floating mosaic close up.

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Handmade in the Everyday Home

Elisa Bartels Sideboard

Above is a photo of my sideboard containing crockery that I use on a daily basis. Most of it has been handmade by myself (I still have my very first bowl)  or by people I know and admire. Every time I hold a piece I am transported back to a place or I see the face of someone with whom I have made a connection. That piece of pottery is the thread that binds me to those moments in my life. I consider myself lucky to have entered into the world of the handmade and as time passes its importance in my everyday life becomes more ingrained and vital.

Cups and bowls by Elisa Batels, side plates by David Edmonds

Glasses and bowls by Elisa Bartels; side plates by David Edmonds

When friends come for dinner I notice how they are drawn to certain plates or bowls. They are always a conversation starter. There is a natural affinity that we humans have for the handmade. Unlike art which can seem like an intimidating, esoteric club whose membership is difficult to attain; the artisan product has a glorious humbleness, with all it’s imperfections, with which we can all relate and which seems to put people at ease. I know of no factory made item which has the same effect.

Front: Bowls by David Edmonds; behind: Bowls by Elisa Bartels

Front: Bowls by David Edmonds; behind: Bowls by Elisa Bartels

There are still a few factory made cups in my cupboard but they never get a mention; they are never inspected or admired. Slowly, slowly I will replace them all with handmade. I look forward to the coming months when there will be studio Christmas sales and various TAFEs will host their end of year exhibitions and sales. I will go along and see where my sight and touch leads me. There I will find more little beauties to take home for my family and I to use everyday.

Plates by David Edmonds; Orange plate by Trish McNeil.

Plates by David Edmonds; Orange plate by Trish McNeil.

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Opening Night of Insitu @ 1 O’Connell Street, Sydney

Who are you?, I hear you saying as you read this post. Yes, gentle readers, it has been a while since my fingers tapped across the keyboard. Instead my fingers have been busy constructing my next floating mosaic titled “The Spit”.

Back in July Maggie Paradyzs, a talented ceramicist, asked if I’d be interested in participating in a group show at 1 O’Connell Street in September. “Do you think you can get a piece finished by September” she asked; “yes”, I replied with all the optimism of a fool.

I won’t bore you with the trials and tribulations of the last few months. Suffice it to say that ,as always, it was all worth it on opening night which was last Tuesday, 2nd September.

The exhibition is open until 30 September in the foyer of 1 O’Connell Street. It is accessible during business hours and afterwards you can stop for coffee and a meal at Bowery Lane. We had dinner there afterwards and the food shone. Fresh ingredients treated respectfully served by friendly and efficient staff.  A perfect ending to a wonderful show.

Thanks Maggie for being the brains behind Insitu and all your hard work over the last few month.

Finally, a big thank you to Liz Illingworth who is the Building Manager at 1 O’Connell Street. Her help in organising this exhibition and her enthusiasm for ceramics and the visual arts is very much appreciated by all the artists who participated in Insitu.

Insitu ceramic exhibition at 1 O'Connell St, Sydney

Opening Night of Insitu

Insitu ceramic exhibition at 1 O'Connell St

Carleen Devine; Seagull; porcelain & stoneware; h.24cm w.30 cm

Insitu ceramic exhibition at 1 O'Connell St, Sydney

Cathe Stack; Screen Sketch #3; porcelain, Kauri Pine, sterling silver fixtures, Sycamore backing board; h.50cm w.46cm d.2cm and Screen Sketch #4; ceramic; porcelain, Kauri Pine, sterling silver fixtures, Sycamore backing board; h.50cm w.46cm d.2cm

Insitu ceramic exhibition at 1 O'Connell St, Sydney

Christine MacKinnon; Camouflage Trap; Southern Ice Porcelain, lustre & emu feathers; d.10cm dia.44cm

Opening Night Insitu @ 1 O'Connell St, Sydney

Opening Night Insitu @ 1 O’Connell St, Sydney


Water Auer @ Insitu 1 O'Connell St, Sydney

Walter Auer; Partners (Two Bears); ceramic; h.63cm w.49cm and lo Animale (TShirt & Scarf); ceramic; h.63cm w.55cm

Tony Schlosser @ Insitu

Tony Schlosser; De(con)struction #11; stoneware with oxides; h.66.5cm dia.53cm

Tann Kennedy @ Insitu

Tann Kennedy; Harvest Series III; porcelain on beechwood; h.60cm w.60cm

Sam Perks @ Insitu

Sam Perks; Snowflakes; porcelain & glass; h.60cm w.60cm

Robert Towns @ Insitu

Robert Towns; Crater; handbuilt,mid-fire ceramic; h.23cm dia.40cm

Opening night of Insitu @ 1 O'Connell St, Sydney

Opening night of Insitu @ 1 O’Connell St, Sydney

Margaret Armstrong @ Insitu

Margaret Armstrong; Life’s Game; stoneware & wood; h.84cm w.40cm

Maggie Paradyzs at Insitu

Maggie Paradysz; Hyphae – Midnight; white raku, slips, oxide, dry glazes; h.65cm w.40cm d.40cm

Liz Cashmore at Insitu

Liz Cashmore; Treasured Relic-Tiered Tablet; ceramic, Butt base; h.60cm w.50cm d.15cm

John Curnoe at Insitu

John Curnoe; Where Here; slipcast stoneware construction; h.40cm w.40cm d.210cm

Johanna Hildebrandt at Insitu

Johanna Hildebrandt; Imprints Of The Forest; ceramic, glazes; h.70cm dia.47cm

Jenny Wiggins at Insitu

Jenny Wiggins; Ahuiliztli; wheelformed & altered ceramics; 200cm and Tlaloc; wheelformed & altered ceramics; 200cm


Opening Night @ Insitu

Opening Night @ Insitu

Elisa Bartels at Insitu 1 O'Connell Street, Sydney

Elisa Bartels; The Spit; porcelain, oxide stained, aluminium; h.109.5cm w.148.5cm

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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;//

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