On first meeting Elke Lucas, you feel like you are in the presence of a very genuine and gentle soul. Perhaps it's her accent still evident from her German heritage, or perhaps it's her calm and unassuming nature, but instantly you feel relaxed around her. I actually think it also may be because Elke talks to you, not AT you. She is modest about her own considerable talents yet there is no doubt that she is passionate about what she does. I have always admired ceramicists - the thought of working on a wheel, creating beautiful tactile pieces with my own two hands is a truly romantic and somewhat mystical notion to me, however when I mentioned this to Elke, she immediately invited me up for a session - with no hesitation. It has been my experience in life that those who are willing to share their knowledge with an open heart, are usually the ones who are most knowledgable... (I'll definitely be taking you up on the offer Elke!)
Elke's pieces are beautifully crafted, taking their ques from the natural surrounds which she is constantly inspired by. They are simple in form, yet every piece is a unique statement. Elke's pieces are also created with function in mind - she is a great believer that the things you use for everyday life should trigger positive emotions. Peppering life with everyday joy is an aspiring thought!
Elke's ranges are constantly evolving, and considering she has only recently returned to the art of ceramics, her collection of work is impressive. On reading her business blurb it states Elke's "hand thrown pots have a natural sophistication and a beautiful quiet presence"; in this instance, it is the creation that certainly mirrors the master.
What’s your Sunshine Coast story Elke? What brought you here and how long have you lived on the coast?
Well, this one I can answer quickly - we’ve been here for nearly four years. What brought us here? I’m not entirely sure. (Laughs)
My husband is originally from England; we ended up moving to Christchurch in New Zealand. We were living there for six years and then we just felt it was time to move on, and so we ended up here. We didn’t know anything about Noosa or anything about Australia very much but we kind of felt really drawn to the place and that’s where we ended up!
What is your design background, and what was it that inspired you to become a ceramicist?
When I met my husband, his family owned a Pottery in Devon in England. I had no idea about pottery before we met, but after we got married, I was living there in this tiny village, about a hundred people, absolutely minuscule! There wasn’t very much to do so I ended up starting to do a bit of pottery there. My husband showed me how to throw on the wheel and I just haven’t looked back really. I’ve loved it! I always wanted to do something arty but didn’t... My trade, at first, was a draftsperson, so you’ve got a bit of artiness in it there but it’s quite different really, from using your hands and doing something like that. I guess when someone doesn’t have my type of background (i.e. architectural drafting) their forms are perhaps more free-form. Mine are quite minimalistic.
How would you describe your design style?
Pretty much Minimalist... I think it has some earthiness to it but my husband doesn’t really think “earthy” is the right word for it. It does have natural colours in it - browns and greens... but not the seventies brown! And I guess, my influence comes out of walking on the beach so much, and in the National Park. I get very inspired with all the colours there. I just don’t think many people realise how absolutely amazing this place is, especially people who have lived here all their lives. I think it is one of the nicest places I’ve seen, really. We have travelled a lot and seen other beautiful places but it is just stunning here.
Can you describe the process that takes you from the initial concept to the finished piece?
I think you just kind of see something that inspires you - either some shape or a technique that you’ve seen - and from there you think ‘well, what shape can fit here?' So you do think about what shape you can use before you get on the wheel. I usually try out a certain shape - or maybe a couple of different shapes - to see whether it works, and then I would try a piece.
The process of pottery is quite involved. You have to throw the piece on the wheel and then after that, when it’s a bit dry, you have to do what is called ‘turning’ where you have to either cut or shave on a moving wheel to shape the base. Then you have to dry it and decorate it, however you want to decorate it - and my porcelain is fired twice so I do the bisque firing, and then glaze it, and then do the glaze firing. It’s quite a long process from start to the finished process really. I suppose that is why it gets a bit pricey because there is so much time involved in it and you don’t really know, at the end, what you will get and if it is what you were hoping for. Opening the kiln is like Christmas - It can be the happiest Christmas you ever had or the saddest Christmas you ever had!
Are there any designers/artisans/crafts people that you’re particularly loving at the moment? Any Blogs that are your particular favourites?
Porcelain - I mean what we did in England - was a very long time ago. Because I’ve only really been doing ceramics for less than a year, I’m just finding out about other designers up here, and I don’t really know of many in Australia yet, but there are a few people.
I actually work for Kim Wallace two mornings a week which I enjoy. I like her stuff - I really appreciate the way she runs her business and I find that quite inspiring. And then there are a couple of people down south that I follow. Someone called Kanimbla Clay from New South Wales - in her style she is quite relaxed. The other one is Susan Frost from Adelaide. She uses amazing colours - really beautiful. Then there is an American Potter I found named Kim Westad, and she does some really funky shapes and things. She does a sort of twirl plate and some vases that are beautiful. I like how she uses strong, bold colours in her work. So they are about the only people I can come up with off the top of my head, but I’m sure that there are millions of other beautiful designers out there!
What’s your preferred social media choice?
Facebook is about as far as I go at the moment. I’m a bit of a technophobe but I’m learning! It’s still early days. It can take up so much of your time and, at the moment, I really just want to focus on work.
Do you have any plans to expand your gorgeous ranges? Sculptures perhaps? Any additional lines of business you are keen to pursue?
I do both tableware ranges and vases. Again, it is still early days. I do beakers and small plates. Plates are something new I’ve been doing as well as bowls, lots of bowls! And Vases, they are always good to do and sell.
I don’t have any plans in the future to go into sculptural pieces. That’s not quite me. I do want to stick with the throwing. I want to create pieces that people love to use everyday. Beautiful things that they can have out but not be afraid to use and enjoy. I would rather buy things I can use than just put on display. So that’s what I’m really aiming for - beautiful stuff that people can use every day.
What are the best things about being your own creative boss?
With having a family - I’ve got two boys - it’s good to be at home. I get to spend time with my boys when they come home from School.
When we first arrived on the Coast, I was working full time. It was so hectic, and exhausting! You’d work all day, then come home and have to cook dinner and hassle the kid’s about homework! Having your own business makes it hectic in a different form - you never get away from it but, at least I can organise my day around it and at least when I need to do something or when I have to take the kids to sports, I can do it without having to worry.
I enjoy being at home; I enjoy being able to go for long walks on the beach if that’s what I want to do, and that’s where you get the inspiration from, being out there - and if you haven’t got the time to do that, it gets shut out.
I really appreciate that I can do that.
Fav Sunny Coast designer/artisan?
I actually think it’s Seven Dandelions. I love their stuff - I just love what they do and they’re doing really well. They’re great!
Fav Sunny Coast retail outlet/s?
That was a big struggle to think of as I really don’t like shopping very much! The only time I go around looking at shops is when friends take me out for coffee and we have a little look around. There are not an awful lot I can think of. The only place I suppose I can really say I do love is Peregian. There’s a Finders Keepers store there and also the French and Gorgeous shop - she has lovely things...
Fav Sunny Coast cafe/restaurant/foodie paradise?
We love hanging out at Skal coffee in Peregian - my husband's a graphic designer who did the artwork for them - and we love their coffee!
Fav Sunny Coast weekend routine?
Well, I’ve got two boys who are very into their sports so I spend alot of time on the weekend running them around to sports fixtures! And once that’s done we usually just hang out on the beach, or try to do something nice with them. We also love having friends over for dinner and a few drinks.
Fav Sunny Coast icon/landmark?
I love the Noosa National Park.
Fav Sunny Coast hangout?
The beach! We all love it, even our dog!
Get fired up :)
You can find Elke at the Peregian Markets, every first and third Sunday of the month. She has also been accepted to display at the upcoming Brisbane Finders Keepers market on the 6th and 7th of July! Elke's website is currently under construction, but enquires can be made via her Facebook Page or email, and for some visual inspiration you can check out her brand new profile on Instagram :)