Welcome to my journal series: Home Makers
With this new series, I'm chatting to creative makers, finding out how they work, what inspires them and taking a tour of their creative spaces.
For this instalment, we're visiting the home-based studio of Melanie Hardy, a ceramist who side-tracked from her creative path many times in life but learnt to listen to her heart to return to the comforts of clay.
I recently had the pleasure of collaborating with Melanie on a collection of ceramic earrings that formed part of Home Dweller Collective.
Can you tell me a little about yourself and what you make?
I am a Brisbane based ceramicist, living in The Gap with my husband, two daughters and my Shetland Sheepdog. My studio is located at home where I focus on making small batch ceramics using traditional hand building techniques, mostly in functional work.
What has been your career journey to date? Did you always know you wanted to be working in a creative field?
Ceramics has always been a part of my life since I was a teenager, where I fell in love with the process whilst working in a production studio on the NSW north coast. After a few years I went into corporate roles in administration and marketing, but always dreamt of working with clay again one day. After moving to Brisbane in 2010 from Sydney where I was born and raised, I found myself able to fulfil that dream with my own home studio.
I have always known that I needed to work in some kind of creative field because when I was a child I was always drawing and designing things. I enjoyed the concept of coming up with ideas, staying with the idea until it was a finished piece no matter how long it took me. That lengthy process fascinated me and is probably why I love working with ceramics as opposed to many other art mediums.
What is your creative process. Where do you start?
Well, I guess you could say my creative process is unpredictable and intuitive. I simply gauge by how I feel that day. If I don't feel like being creative I don't fight it, I just go do something different that needs to be done.
I do find that my most creative time of day is usually mid morning when my brain feels most energetic, so I try to tap into that as much as possible. I like to listen to inspiring podcasts, music and sketch out ideas in my mind. Nothing is orderly, but if it niggles and nags at me long enough I pursue it otherwise I let it be for another time. Over the years I noticed that the more rest I get, the more creative I feel so getting my sleep is really the biggest help in that area.
What are you passionate about in your work?
I believe it is my responsibility as a maker to be sustainable and acknowledge our impact on the future of our environment, so I am passionate about making sure it is kinder to our planet.
I also feel passionate about the beauty and value there is in handmade goods, so I like to ensure my work has individuality, character and marks of the hand left behind.
Do you have any advice you'd like to give to your younger self or someone looking to start their own ceramics business?
Oh gosh, this is a hard one for me as I have left ceramics four times in my life and know how difficult it truly is. My advice is to realise that no matter how creative your dream is, if you want to do it as a living, you must acquire some business skills first before you launch too far into your dream. Create a business plan and get feedback from people who are not your family or friends. This will help you refine things and help you work out where to invest your time and money.
Where do you turn to for creative inspiration?
Much of my inspiration comes from architecture, poetry, music and our Australian landscape. I feel inspired by Japanese pottery and the ideology of wabi-sabi, the beautifully imperfect forms that are weathered, well used but never forgotten.
Are there any other artists or creatives that you admire?
What are your favourite Instagram Accounts to follow?
What do you like to wear?
Saltwater sandals with everything!
Where do you like to spend your Sundays?
Sundays are slow but usually we cook breakfast at home or have a late brekky at a local Brisbane cafe with the kids and the dog.
Our favourite lately is the character filled, Goodfolk Cafe in Bardon. Awesome food plus they have the cutest old school backyard garden, kind of like visiting your grans house. In the cooler months we like picnics outside in the national park or heading up the Sunshine Coast for long beach walks.
Do you have any business goals for 2021?
This year I am slowly working towards a more minimalistic studio by simplifying what I do and reducing my range of materials.
I am also working on launching my new look website and product range around April, prior to Mother's Day.