Get to know ceramic artist, flower lover and dopamine dresser Emma Bartik of Voluptuary Ceramics. We caught up with Emma as she gets ready to join us again at Finders Keepers Sydney this July 29-31! Read on for insights about her small biz journey, her past career making special effects prosthetics and what we can expect at her market stall. Thanks, Emma for sharing your creative journey with us!
Tell us a little bit about what you do and how you got started?
Voluptuary Ceramics is a ceramic brand making colourful anthropomorphic forms and objects that play with a contemporary representation of the feminine body. I started Voluptuary with a desire to create joyous, handmade objects that blend beauty with something more visceral and emotive. I love that in the transformation from clay to ceramics, objects appearing soft, gelatinous and jellylike can become rigid and strong. This process is totally mesmerising. A few years ago, I was making from a desk in my living room, driving hours to and from clay firing studios with a car packed with fragile pots. Now I have my own studio space in Botany with two kilns. A terrifying jump, but never one I regret taking!
What’s something people might not know about you?
I’m also a professional makeup and special effects artist. Before I had my ceramics business, I worked for 11 years commercially in the film industry, most likely on some of your favourite films, tv shows and celebrities, which was super fun. It gave me an unfathomable work ethic, which paved the way for the uphill climb of running a handmade business! I started in ceramics actually to improve my sculpting skills because I was making prosthetic pieces for special effects characters. Then I quickly fell in love with clay and it snowballed into my business.
Working as a makeup artist is also what sparked my curiosity about the performed hierarchy of bodies and how we curate them to present a beauty standard, rather than authenticity. I feel like this comes through in the creation of my pieces, my belly mugs in particular, which play with desirability and the universal experience of a soft body.
What got you through the last two years as a small business owner?
The past two years have been really tough, but I think we all realised how important it is to find happiness in the small and continuous moments of everyday life. The power of handmade is its ability to bring joy to your everyday rituals, through your morning coffee mug, filling a vase with flowers or using your favourite plate at each meal. Joy in the little things is what got me through these past two years… that and reading. The mental escapism can really feel like a holiday!
What is your creative guilty pleasure? What do you do for creative play and creative self-care?
I am a guilty and self-professed workaholic. So many parts of my job allow me to really be creative in ways that fill me with joy, which means I sometimes find it hard to step away and focus on other things. I am, however, obsessed with cake decorating, and cake decorating videos. Shame I’m such a terrible baker! I also love to read and be absorbed in a good story.
Where’s your favourite place to get inspired in Sydney?
Inspiration can come from a freshly baked good, a warm latte and a coastal walk in the sun. I absolutely find inspiration in food, particularly desserts and flowers, so I love ice cream shops like Cow and Moon and Messina and, of course, visiting the Sydney Flowers Markets at the crack of dawn.
What can shoppers expect from your stall at this event?
I am super excited to be bringing a pastel treasure trove of new pieces to the Sydney Finders Keepers Market this July! A whole range of new vases, iridescent pieces and my new marbled, pastel tableware series, all handmade in my Botany Studio from Australian porcelain. I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch but I might just be launching a brand new coloured sculptural candle too!
I love it when my stall looks and feels like a lolly shop for your home, so I’m working away on bringing as many colourful and joyous pieces as I can for you to find your perfect lifelong ceramic treasure. I’ll be in the pink and peach store dripping in flowers, and I can’t wait to see you there!