Meeting Ceramicist Louise Martiensen
I'm a firm believer that if you want to have more creativity in your life then you need to bring more of it into daily activities, like using artisan pottery cups and tableware, pieces that are made by an artisan and crafted by hand. But what is life like as a maker and where do they find inspiration? I caught up with Sydney ceramicist Louise Martiensen to find out.
What drew you to clay and pottery?
I'd worked with clay a few times in high school and primary, but I don't think many of my pieces ever made it through, I was always the kid that had things exploding or cracking or just not working out, so it's not like me and clay have had a life-long bond.
When I started studying design at university I had three design studios to choose from, and I was so keen on being a furniture designer that I didn't really mind what my other choices were; ceramics happened to fall on a Monday which was good for my timetable, and I was mildly interested in how it all worked, so I enrolled in that class. I can't remember how many weeks of classes it took, but I know that before too long I was completely hooked and could see that this was exactly what I wanted to do.
I'm still not sure I quite understand what it was that drew me, other than the vague sense that this made me happy, but I do know there are so many elements to it that really appeal; getting your hands dirty, the ability to be in control of just about the whole process, the very personal scale of ceramics, the way they're used, the many challenges and the way there's always new things to be learned.
How long have your been working as a ceramicist?
I've been working as a ceramicist for almost four years now. I date the beginning of my career from when I signed the lease on my first studio, before then I was still working out of uni or other workshops and still felt very much the student.
A studio of my own that my fledgling business had to be responsible for paying for? There's nothing like a little responsibility to make things feel real.
Your work often features botanical elements, what have been some of your favourite designs?
Well, they've all been my favourites at one time or another! My current favourite is usually whatever I'm working on (depending on how difficult it's being, hahaha).
The flora series is my most recent series that I have felt like like I've brought to a stage that I'm really happy with, so I'm quite proud of it and the reactions it has been getting from people.
Who inspires you creatively?
There's two different ways I look at this question; who inspires me, and who makes me jealous because their work is just so beautiful and I wish I'd thought of doing that first! I suppose they both have their part to play in shaping what does inspire me.
What I really love to see is people who are pushing what can be done with ceramics; those developing new techniques like 3D-printed ceramics, which I first encountered through my tutor Rod Bamford at university, or the people working on recycling ceramics, like the Green Life 21 Project in Japan.
These things may not directly influence my process, but they do inspire me in the sense that they fill me with awe at the possibilities of my medium. Other local ceramic makers I'm a big fan of are Sassy Park, Sarah O'Sullivan and Niharika Hukku
Which shows and fairs can we find you at?
I do the Olive Tree Markets in Newcastle every month, as well as other markets scattered here and there like the Finders Keepers market in Sydney and Handmade Canberra market.
You will also find my wares stocked at Kerrie Lowe Gallery in Newtown, Sew Make Create in Chippendale and Have You Met Charlie in Adelaide.
What are your 5 tips for creating interesting new designs?
1. Dream big! There's time for cutting your ideas down later to something that's usable/practical/makeable. Start with the most amazing and unusual things you can think of, because it's better to pare down your wildest designs than it is to spice up your plainer ones.
2. Don't be afraid to play around, you don't always need to have your mind focused on the end-product.
3. Talk to other people about what you're doing; your work won't exist in a vacuum, and shouldn't be created that way either. Talk to anyone and everyone, often when talking about my ideas to others I find myself understanding more about what I'm trying to do myself
4. Make time for it. Seems like an obvious one, but when we're all so busy it's crucial to make time for things that are important, so make sure you give yourself whatever you need to work on new ideas, which includes giving it your best time, not just 15 minuted snatched in front of a screen/sketchpad at the end of the day.
5. Keep enjoying it. If things get hard, do something else. Come back to it later with fresh eyes. Enjoy the process.
Connect with Louise online at:
Louise M studio ceramics. Collections of handmade, beautiful objects, functional and decorative, and pieces made to order.
LousieMstudio on Instagram, Facebook and the LouiseMstudio etsy store