My name is Susan Simonini and I’m a ceramic artist. I live and work from my home studio on the Gold Coast in Australia.
I studied fine art at university, majoring in painting and printmaking. By the time I graduated I had gallery representation and continued to paint and exhibit my works for over 10 years both locally and nationally. My husband and I were also raising three boys, so it was a hectic time!
By 2011, in a tough financial climate, all of the galleries that represented me closed their doors. Feeling disillusioned and a bit burnt out, I packed away my paints and took a teaching job. Around that time, I discovered the inspiring creative community on Etsy, and it wasn’t long before my love of art and craft resurfaced. I started making small collages and opened an Etsy shop.
Early in 2013 I took a class at my local community pottery studio, as ceramics was something I had never done before. To my surprise, I fell totally in love with everything to do with pottery – from the tactile nature of the clay and almost meditative process of hand-building, to the complexities of decorating and glazing. When I listed my ceramics on my Etsy shop at the start of this year I was overwhelmed with the positive response from customers.
I mainly use hand-building clays that are gritty and give a great texture when fired, such as terracotta or raku. I use pretty basic, traditional techniques such as coiling and slab construction and prefer not to use mechanical equipment like slab rollers and extruders. It is the imperfect form I love – the uneven edge, the organic shape, the imprint of a finger left by the maker. After a piece takes shape, I decide on decoration, which ranges from hand-painting with underglazes and etching into colored slips to applying decals and tissue transfers. I get a lot of inspiration from nature, found objects, and the local coastal landscape.
After selling on Etsy for nearly six months, I have seen the potential in my business. I recently invested in my own kiln, cut back on my teaching job, and my husband is in the process of transforming our garage into a working studio. I am so happy and grateful that my Etsy shop and my wonderful customers are allowing me to do what I love and give me such a supportive environment in which to follow my creative dreams. It doesn’t get much better than that!
All photographs by Susan Simonini.