Studio Visit

This Potter Makes Petal-Edged Bowls To Help Save The Bees

Bridget Bodenham has been a full-time potter and artist for more than 10 years, after falling in love with the tactile nature of clay back in her university days.

She works from a studio in Hepburn, Victoria, where she makes everything from mugs to vases and earrings, drawing inspiration from the native bushland just outside her studio.

We spoke to Bridget about her successful practice and one of her latest collections — a series of ceramic water bowls designed to attract bees into your garden!

Christina Karras

A line-up of Bridget Bodenham’s pieces in the studio.

Potter Bridget Bodenham.

After she outgrew her previous studio, Bridget built a new and improved workspace on her mum’s property in Hepburn.

‘I wanted it to have natural light for as long as my working day,’ Bridget says of the space.

Her work is equal parts a delicate and playful.

She cites nature as one of her biggest inspirations.

The studio is surrounded by native bushland and captures elevated views of a spring dam.

‘I love to explore scale from a tiny flower stud earring to larger sculptural works and everything in between.’

Gold accents and petal-shapes are one of Bridget’s signature details.

Mugs and smooth bowls awaiting to be fired.

‘My brother has been my assistant for around eight years,’ Bridget says.

Tracing the outline of a bowl.

Bridget moulds the smooth curve of her latest piece.

Leafy views make the studio a tranquil place to work.

Bridget spends most of her time on the wheel.

A close-up of new pieces ready for the kiln.

Christina Karras
13th of February 2024

Victorian-based potter Bridget Bodenham is known for her playful ceramic tableware, vessels, and accessories, but recently she turned her focus to making something for the natural world: a bowl that provides water to wildlife and insects, especially bees.

‘I wanted something beautiful and useful to look at in the garden,’ Bridget says of how the idea for her ‘bee bowls’ came about.

This lead to a new variation of Bridget’s delicate glazed ceramic dishes, in which each vessel is mounted on a stake, allowing it to be securely placed into soil, before being filled with water.

‘Upon noticing the bees and insects becoming curious, I decided to add a petal edge to the form,’ she adds. ‘People have since started collecting them for their gardens and precious bees all around the world. They have kept us very busy…. as busy as a bee!’

Plus, with 102,000 followers on Instagram, it’s easy to see why Bridget’s pieces are often quick to sell out.

Since 2018, she and her brother (who’s been her assistant for eight years!) have worked from a studio built on her Mum’s property in Hepburn — a town not far from Daylesford — surrounded by native bushland. It’s fitting that Bridget also cites nature as one of her biggest influences, incorporating floral motifs and soft pink, green, and blue hand-painted details in the glaze of her handmade creations.

‘Community and my garden bring a rich flow of inspiration,’ Bridget adds. ‘The area I spend most of time at is my wheel in the studio, where we had the window positioned so I can see the view to Mount Kooroocheang.’

Bridget strives to make sure every piece balances function and form, whether it’s something as tiny as a flower stud earring, or larger sculptural works that are particularly time consuming to create. After 10 years working full-time in her dream job, she says the best part about working with clay is also it’s biggest challenge.

‘You just can’t guarantee it [the piece] will work out,’ she says. ‘A slight change in temperature, material variation or rushed making can lead to disappointing results. With this comes some nice surprises though, and keeps it interesting, I’m always learning… the material leads the way, or will at least have its way!’

And with new ideas for a lighting collection, bird feeders and plenty more already in the works for this year, Bridget’s showing no signs of slowing down!

Shop Bridget Bodenham’s pieces online here.

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