Despite making ceramics for only two years now, Nicole Deichmann’s creates beautiful and functional bowls, plates, and spoons inspired by her many travels. In our latest spotlight, Nicole talks us through her gruelling, yet rewarding ceramic-making process, and the Irish museum that left an impression on her.
Q: Hello Nicole! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
A: I am a ceramic artist, I grew up in NSW but I moved to the stunning McLaren Vale region 18 months ago. Monday to Friday I work in an office in an IT management job which is interesting and fast-paced, but it has never felt like a career, only a job. It took me a long time to find my creative passion, ceramics, which I would love to turn into a career one day.
I started making ceramics around 2 years ago because I needed a hobby. My husband is Danish and we moved to Denmark for 2 years. The weather was cold so I had a lot of time indoors which made me realise that I didn’t have any indoor hobbies. I picked up a paint brush and enrolled in a few design diplomas which I enjoyed but I had always wanted to learn to throw on the pottery wheel so when I moved back to Australia I signed up to a class and now I am constantly covered in mud.
I’ve set up a studio in the garage of our house. It is small and dark but I spend every weekend in there trying to make new pieces to sell to build my small business.
Q: Who inspires you? What inspires your art?
A: Growing up both of my parents were very creative in their own ways. My mum loved folk art painting, decoupage (I have one of her pieces as a fruit bowl in my kitchen), and sewing. My dad loves architecture and worked as an architectural model maker, making scale models of buildings and developments for many years. He also loves woodwork and building furniture. Both of them have had a huge inspirational influence on me and have always been huge fans and very supportive of my art.
My ceramics are influenced by my time travelling the world. I have lived in Europe twice, totalling 4 years, and I have visited 5 continents so far. I have travelled on my own, with friends, with strangers who I met and soon became travel friends, with my husband, with his family, and with my parents. Seeing new cultures and experiencing parts of the world that are completely foreign to me is very inspirational.
I vividly remember the colourful tiled facades of buildings in Lisbon, the red clay tagine vessels in Marrakesh, and the handpainted porcelain Royal Copenhagen dinnerware from Denmark.
Q: Do you have a preferred medium?
A: My preferred medium is stoneware clay. It fires to a creamy ivory colour, and it is smooth and elastic to work with. I have tried different clays but I always prefer to use Australian produced stoneware when throwing my pieces on the wheel.
Once I have thrown or handmade my pieces, I decorate them with a variety of high fire underglazes and glazes.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Since I have only been creating ceramics for a couple of years, I am still experimenting and developing my style but I keep getting drawn to putting blues and greens on just about every piece. I think my style is simple forms with minimalist patterns and interesting glaze applications which creates pieces that are made to be used.
Q: Can you please describe your artistic and creative process i.e.: from lingering idea to putting it into practice?
A: My head is always swarming with ideas. I have to write everything down or I’ll lose them. I have post-it notes everywhere. Every piece starts with well-prepared clay, which means a lot of kneading. Then more kneading. The kneading removes small air bubbles from the clay and mixes it to a smooth consistency. Depending on what I plan on making, the clay then gets weighed out in to specific sized balls.
Once a piece is thrown on the wheel I set it aside for a day to semi-dry which allows me to turn it upside down on the wheel and trim the base.
A few days later, once it is completely dry, I load it into my kiln and fire it to 1,000 degrees. This is the part where the mud turns into ceramic. This is called a bisque firing. It is important to get this part of the process right so the clay hardens but is porous enough to absorb the glaze.
Glaze days are my least favourite part of the process, it’s messy and takes patience and I usually muck up a few pieces by sticking my finger in the glaze before it dries.
After the glazing I load it back into the kiln and fire it to 1,280 degrees. My kiln takes over 12 hours to cool down after the glaze firing and this is where my lack of patience gets me again.
My favourite item to sell is what I call my ‘Insomnia Spoons’, whenever my mind is racing and sleep is eluding me, I sneak out to my studio and spend an hour or so making spoons. It usually takes my mind off things and then I can sneak back into bed to sleep.
Q: Where do you see your art practice taking you in the next five years?
A: In the next 5 years I would love for my weekend passion to be to become my ‘main’ job without it feeling like it is a job. What I hope for is that my work-play balance gets tilted more towards my ceramics and also being able to stop long enough to enjoy it more often.
Q: If you could recommend one artist, who would it be?
A: On Instagram, I follow Helen Ahpornsiri, a unique UK artist. She creates nature themed illustrations made from pressed plants. She takes tiny leaves and flowers and arranges them in the most inspired and delicate way. It’s brilliant the way she takes something from nature, and turns it into a picture of nature. It’s even more beautiful than you can imagine.
Q: What is your favourite gallery?
A: The Ulster Museum. It is an incredible place I visited while living in Northern Ireland years ago. It’s not quite a gallery, but it’s my favourite building dedicated to beautiful things is an incredible place. They have fine art, pottery and porcelain collections which have never left me.
Q: Where can we find more of your work?
I also have a Facebook page, and I sell my pieces in person at the Gilles Street Markets in Adelaide and the Willunga Artisans & Handmade Markets. Check out my Instagram profile for my upcoming market dates.
Q: What do you think has been the world’s greatest invention?
A: I’ll have to channel my inner IT nerd for this one. Literally nothing about my life would be the same without the Internet.
My time travelling and living abroad probably would not have happened without the Internet making the world seem smaller. I never would have seen as many cultures and eaten such variety of food.
I rely on the Internet to teach me many of the skills and tricks I use in my pottery studio every weekend. I still Google it every time I have problems with my ceramic work.
The world has changed so much, even from when my parents were my age to now.
The Internet has changed everything.
– Masya Zabidi