Shops We Love: Handmade Ceramics by Eliana Bernard
I had to take a moment, while putting this post together, to go back to Eliana Bernard’s Instagram feed and marvel. People probably think that the effusive praise that I pour onto the makers I feature is a little disingenuous. But truthfully, I really do love what I discover and Eliana’s collection of modern handmade ceramics is a thing of exquisite beauty. Look at this post and tell me you don’t want all the things! I’m happy to give you a glimpse into Eliana’s creative process and I hope you take the time to visit her shop.
What inspired you to begin your collection?
I started working with clay in college and during that time I also interned and worked for other ceramic artist in my community. That was the launching pad towards starting my own business and pursuing ceramics as a career. My current collection, The Marbled Collection, started off as an experiment with liquid clay (slip) and colored slip. I was playing around in the studio one day and started swirling in colors with the porcelain slip and made tiny porcelain studs. Eventually, I brought that technique into plates and vases and built up the collection to what it is now.
Describe your creative process. Where do you start?
It starts with an idea that I have. Usually something that I saw online of a color combination, texture, interior space, or just something that I want to make for myself. I start by sketching it out before actually making the piece. Once I have a sketch of what I want then I make the form out of clay and make a mold of it. My process depends on moldmaking and if it’s a new item that I don’t have a mold of, I have to make one to even see it in 3D form with my marble pattern. The moldmaking part is time consuming so sketching out ideas and working through them on paper first is very important.
“I think it’s important to keep trying new things and playing around. Those random ideas are what keeps me going and help balance out the moments when I’m cranking out items from my standard collection.” – Eliana
How do you maintain your creative drive?
I’m always experimenting in the studio. I think it’s important to keep trying new things and playing around. Those random ideas are what keeps me going and help balance out the moments when I’m cranking out items from my standard collection. Experimenting can also lead to new ideas and an entirely new body of work, which is how I started the Candy Marbled Collection.
What materials do you love to use?
I love working with plaster and porcelain slip. I love the process of mold making. It can be challenging but fun to work through the details of making a mold and once I have a mold I can make as many of that form as needed. Slip is also a cool material. It feels sticky and smooth and it’s easy to add color. I can create different patterns and textures with it.
Every product has a story. Is there a story behind one of your pieces that stands out to you?
The round candy marbled bud vases. When I made that shape in the black marbling with a gloss glaze and gold, I showed it to my studio mate and she said it looked like candy. We laughed and joked about candy colored swirls and gold drips that would really play up that idea. It stuck with me and the next day I mixed bright colored slips and made a candy marbled bud vase. It’s my most popular item right now and everyone loves the colors that I’ve added to the collection! It’s a fun item to make!
Do you have a dream collaborator?
I love collaborating with other makers in fields where their product goes hand in hand with ceramics. I recently did a collaboration with a local candle company and designed and made marbled porcelain match strikers for them! It was a fun item to make and it’s perfect to pair with their candles.
What are some of the challenges that you face as a maker?
Being true to yourself and your work. I was approached by a company to make a large quantity of plates that were basically a copy of another person’s design. It was the first time where I had to say no and explain that as a maker I didn’t feel comfortable replicating another artist’s design. It was so far from what my work looks like. As a small business, it’s always exciting to take on large orders but it’s more important for me to stay true to myself and my work.
How do you use social media and blogging to promote your work?
I curate my Instagram feed to highlight items in the collection, process shots and online sales and promotions. It’s my favorite form of social media and the best way to promote my work. I like posting photos of new ideas and projects to get instant feedback and other peoples thoughts.
Where do you see your shop/project going?
I transitioned to running my business full-time back in February, so this year will be the first year that I get to work and play in the studio all day. I have more time now to focus on my online shop. I would love be more retail focused and work directly with the customer.
“I believe that the objects we bring to the table and home are important. That’s why I take the time and care to create pieces that will make mealtimes more special, gatherings more meaningful and the home more beautiful, in hopes that you will enjoy each item as much as I enjoy making them.” – Eliana
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on building up my new collection, The Candy Marbled Collection. Bringing in more colors into the collection has opened up the possibility for more color combinations and it’s been so much fun playing around in the studio!