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How Melbourne's Most Beautiful Ceramics Studio Pivoted To Online Classes

Studio Visit

Guy Vadas of Céramiques first tried his hand at ceramics just two and a half years ago. Today, he owns and operates two ceramics studios in Melbourne, where he teaches dozens of students. That’s just how Guy Vadas rolls.

Off-the-cuff and casual, Guy has an easy-going and instantly engaging teaching style. And now, he’s reaching thousands online, after quickly adapting his business to suit the rapidly changing health crisis.

7th April, 2020

The beautiful Elsternwick studio. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Rainy day views. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Guy Vadas in his studio. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The serene and open space is perfect for creating. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘The studio has really high ceilings and it’s filled with light and plants which is really big for me.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Pieces waiting to be fired. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Guy at the wheel. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘It’s a creative space and it’s a very relaxing space as well. It just invites creativity,’ says Guy. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Workshop details. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Chunks of clay ready to be moulded. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The beauty of so many people making things in one place is the variety! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Every corner is piled with pieces. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Sasha Gattermayr
Tuesday 7th April 2020

‘My first ceramics class was just me, my friend, and probably four or five 60-70 year old ladies, and I just loved it.’ – Guy Vadas.

‘I started doing ceramics two and a half years ago,’ Guy Vadas of Céramiques explains of his creative practice, which went from fledgling to established in a matter of months. ‘One of my friends was doing it at this little old lady’s house around the corner from where I used to live, and she invited me along to sit around and create pieces, drink tea and eat biscuits. It was me, my friend, and probably four or five 60-70-year-old ladies, and I just loved it.’

Walking home from these sessions with his handbuilt creations, and a confusing sense of connection with the art form, Guy realised this was what passion felt like.  Fast forward a few years, and Guy now owns two studios (one in Elsternwick and one in Camberwell) where he teaches pottery classes and public workshops full time.

Guy describes himself as a ceramicist-entrepreneur. He is charming to listen to, talking enthusiastically about the septuagenarians he learnt his craft from, and reflecting confidently about the shape his business has taken over its short lifespan. Located in a side street in Elsternwick, the beautiful old building where he holds his classes has an exposed industrial ceiling, and light streams through into the workshop. The sense of community here is what excites Guy most about his craft, along with the way in which his practice connects him to nature.

‘I draw inspiration from everyday life, whether it be a chair or a tree. You can conceptualise many regular objects into a pot and, I know it sounds a bit far-fetched, but sometimes I look at something and think, ‘Oh, if that was a pot what would it look like?’ And it gives me something to explore.’

Excavating everyday objects for a seed of creative inspiration has proved more essential than ever in the last few weeks. Due to current government regulations, Guy’s big, bright, open spaces in Elsternwick and Camberwell are closed to the public, and classes have halted indefinitely. For a business model that relies on public gatherings for 99% of its revenue, Guy recognised the need early to pivot hard towards a digital model.

He got to work, assembling at-home kits consisting of ten kilograms of hand building clay and a tool kit, ordered through the Céramiques website. Guy posts 3-4 tutorial videos to Instagram every day, so kit-buyers can follow along at home, and has interstate kiln affiliates so buyers from around the country can get still get their work fired. Despite the texture and earthiness of clay and the spirit that lies in its tactility, switching to online early-on and maximising social media has been an enormous success. ‘That side of things – allowing people to create while they’re kind of being forced to – has been really great. We’re forced to be at home and pottery is a really nice process to enjoy at home,’ he explains.

Guy has tapped into something vital during this isolation period of indeterminate length. Not only can people not go outside or gather in public places, but they are stuck at home with nothing to do. Though there is a lot of commentary flying around the Internet that you don’t need to ‘make the most’ of quarantine time, it does seem that there’s no better time than now to pick up a creative hobby if you have the time and the headspace. Make clay while the sun shines!

If you’re housebound and looking for a way a way to support small business/any excuse to learn something new, you can purchase one of Guy’s at-home clay kits here and view his Instagram tutorials here!

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net