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From her home on Brisbane’s bayside suburb of Manly, Nicole hand-builds earthenware ceramic pieces inspired by nature and underwater worlds. Her body of work is both decorative and functional, and always evolving

25 October 2019

Designer Spotlight: ClayPress Ceramics

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Former legal administrator & practise owner turned ceramicist, Nicole: ‘My work will, without a doubt, unsurprisingly morph over time with my thirst to explore new techniques, new clay, new glazes, new firing methods, and so on’

Hi, I’m Nicole, sole creator of ClayPress Ceramics. I hand-build one off ceramic pieces. I’ve been a seller on Madeit since January 2018.

Hand-built earthenware vases and bowls by with 3D barnacle-like decorations by ClayPress Ceramics

I ‘press’ stamps into ‘clay’ throughout the majority of my work so therefore the name ‘ClayPress’ was apt. To me the name was practical with no fluff; like me.

From her home on Brisbane’s bayside suburb of Manly, Nicole hand-builds earthenware ceramic pieces inspired by nature and underwater worlds. Her body of work is both decorative and functional, and always evolving

My logo is circular which represents infinity as there are endless possibilities to what I may create. Central to that circle is a star shaped marker (or flower) as seen on a sand dollar – the skeleton of a flat sea urchin. I’ve always been fascinated by sea creatures and this visual extends to my ceramic pieces at times.

A ceramic vase on the potter’s wheel to be decorated, images of corals and sealife adorn the walls in the background; ‘I’ve always been fascinated by sea creatures and this visual extends to my ceramic pieces at times

My home studio is on a hill overlooking lovely Moreton Bay in Brisbane’s bayside suburb of Manly, where the beauty of my local area provides me with endless inspiration for my craft. I’ve converted a downstairs bedroom into my creative studio space, conveniently close to my kiln shed. When my head isn’t transfixed downwards towards my work I’m able to look out into the distance and look at Stradbroke Island, the endless blue sky or watch the boats sail into the yacht club. Truly lucky.

Boats in Manly Harbour, Queenslad, with the leaves of a Morton Bay Fig in the foreground

This space is my perfect perch to create, quietly …. happily.

I’ve always been drawn to nature and its vibrant, diverse beauty and my creativity is encouraged by microscopic molecules through to simplistic flowers, and even whimsical cloud formations. Inspiration for me can be found in anything and everything nature has to offer and my work is constantly evolving.

An array of bisque (unglazed, fired) ceramic vases and bowls adorned with coral-like 3d details by ClayPress Ceramics

At present I’m keen to explore and achieve soft, gentle, curved formations. I love the movement both in the glazes and clay forms of the pieces I’ve been firing. This natural flow extends into my current body of work as I draw my inspiration from natural objects including fungi coral, feather stars, and sea urchins found in the underwater world nearby to home. There are no boundaries!

Nicole at work in her home Studio in Manly, QLD, adding the 3 dimentional decorative elements to an earthenware vase before firing

Currently I predominantly hand build all my pieces, largely using white earthenware clay with brush-on glazes. Earthenware is a low-fire clay meaning my pieces are heated to 1060 degrees, allowing the vibrant colours to endure the heat. Many of my pieces remain partially unglazed as I maintain that the matte smooth clay finish flanking the translucent glossy glaze gives impact. Due to earthenware clay’s porosity, I apply to the front of all my partially glazed dishes a non-toxic, water-based sealer (Liquid Quartz) ensuring each piece is waterproof and food safe.

Nicole adding ceramic vases to her home kiln; ‘It’s a wonderful feeling opening the kiln after a glaze firing to see pieces as you imagined them – or even better’

Strong practical influences draw me to also create everyday utilitarian pieces by using stoneware clay. You will see these everyday pieces such as platters, cheese knives, planter pots and so forth scattered amongst my primary work.

Nicole adding decorative touches to another ceramic vase in her home studio; ‘From start to finish each piece can take upwards of 24 hours’

Finished ceramic pieces take time - countless hours in fact. From start to finish each piece can take upwards of 24 hours to prepare clay, create a form, detail and embellish, bisque fire, surface decorate, glaze fire, and finish a piece. At any of these stages processes can go wrong so it’s a wonderful feeling opening the kiln after a glaze firing to see pieces as you imagined them – or even better.

A hand-built deep blue decorative dish embossed with barnacle- and flower-like impressions by ClayPress Ceramics

After a busy previous life as co-owner and office administrator in a legal office in bayside Manly, Queensland for over 20 years, Claypress Ceramics was a natural move after selling the practice that signalled a change of pace and a creative focus.

Nicole’s clay-covered hand holding a smooth ball of clay; ‘I came to ceramics through a simple desire to make myself a plate’

I grew up in Central Queensland in the 1970’s near the ocean, and have always been captivated by nature’s vibrant colours and patterns as I wandered along the shoreline and amongst the rocks at Tannum Sands and 1770 as a little girl, and these are often reflected in my work.

Close-up detail of aqua blue glazed ceramic barnacles and florets from one of Nicole’s earthenware pieces

I formed ClayPress Ceramics in 2017 to facilitate my goal of exploring and expanding my artistic goals. September 2018 saw the arrival of a new electric kiln allowing me to fire my work uninhibited.

A ceramic planter by ClayPress Ceramics that resembles ridges of coral; ‘something clicked, and I now live and breathe it’

I’ve been developing my ceramics skills since 2012 and honing my style under the tutelage of a highly-skilled ceramicist, Richard De Hann.

I came to ceramics through a simple desire to make myself a plate. In 2011 I read an article about a Western Australian ceramicist and was captivated by her work. I took a ceramics class for fun all those years back and have not stopped creating since.

A collection of embossed ceramic plates in colourful glazes by ClayPress Ceramics

In the beginning I could only commit to one evening of clay classes per week at nearby Clay at the Precinct, but that soon changed as ceramics consumed me. Something clicked, and I now live and breathe it. Clay at the Precinct remains an integral part of my clay life going forward. Weekly classes and networking with other clay colleagues are important to me. I am currently attending a ceramics course at Brisbane Institute of Art.

Nicole inspecting some of her hand-built ceramic plates in her home studio in Manly QLD; ‘I continue to enhance my skills by taking part in all manner of ceramic workshops’

Keen to soak up as much knowledge as I can, I continue to enhance my skills by taking part in all manner of ceramic workshops when time permits. My work will, without a doubt, unsurprisingly morph over time with my thirst to explore new techniques, new clay, new glazes, new firing methods, and so on. Watch this space!

A detailed embossed brown cheese plate and cheese-knife with timber-grain handmade ceramic handle by ClayPress Ceramics; ‘We’re all here to endorse each other and support wherever possible’

Madeit has given me the perfect medium to commence selling my pieces. I think it’s wonderful that Australia has its own makers’ platform in Madeit. I use Instagram and Facebook frequently to channel interest to my store and Madeit’s Sellers’ Facebook group is a wealth of information on everything from upcoming fairs and advertising opportunities to guides on product pricing, photography insights, packaging ideas and so the list goes on. It’s invaluable. I’m but one of over a thousand Madeit makers however feel I’m very much part of a team. We’re all here to endorse each other and support wherever possible.

Now that I’m an active handmade seller, I appreciate and value the time and effort a maker spends crafting a product. Also, I feel it’s important to buy handmade as it supports local economy and profits are funnelled directly back to the maker. It’s a lovely cycle.

A smiling Nicole holding a large aqua glazed vase decorated with her signature ceramic barnacle embellishments

I adore handmade anything because it’s uniquely special and there’s always a personal heartfelt story behind every item.

Smooth, matt white earthenware vase with a blush pink glazed heart shaped arrangement of coral polup-like embelishments

Buying and gifting handmade hopefully nurtures the recipient into appreciating the time and effort it has taken to bring that handmade item to life. It will hopefully correspondingly allure that recipient to buy and gift handmade and you never know, start creating themselves.



Visit ClayPress Ceramics to find more beautiful hand-built ceramics: ClayPressCeramics

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