This series of Q&A is all about shining the light on our 6 large feature stalls that we have in the upcoming Christmas market: Etsy Made Local – Saturday 23rd November – Sydney Town Hall.
‘Feature’ stalls are new to our market this year, they are stalls that are larger in size and life than usual and you won’t miss them! There are 6 artists and designers that will be running featured stalls on the day and we’ll be chatting to each of them on the lead up to the market here on the blog.
Today we are chatting to Cecilia from Oditi Designs who creates handmade statement ceramic homewares and jewellery in their home studio in Sydney, NSW, using 100% Australian premium white porcelain and we can’t wait to see what they do with their feature stall!
Here’s what we chatted to Cecilia about:
Tell us about you and your brand, what is your creative practice and how and when did you begin?
Oditi Designs handmakes statement ceramics and jewellery and specialise in homewares and ostentatious earrings. Its aim is to provide fashionable luxurious homewares and jewellery at affordable prices that can be bought by ordinary people in the community.
Oditi Designs is a family business co-founded in August 2018 by a family trio, Cecilia, Samantha and Cynthia. They are a multi-skilled team with backgrounds in fine arts, ceramics, marketing and business management. Cecilia, Samantha & Cynthia are descendants of a lineage of makers from Chile and Spain, but are the first in their family to create ceramics and form a business.
Oditi Designs’ is inspired by indigenous concepts of the Mapuche women living in southern Chile and the Bauhaus’ aim to create a functional object with the aesthetics of an artwork.
Motivated by a desire for larger earrings and eccentric homewares, Oditi Designs began to design their own ceramics in Cecilia’s home studio in Sydney, NSW. Together the family trio make ceramics, share skills, tell stories and strengthen their family bond.
Geometric shapes, bold colours and organic decorative elements are central to Oditi Designs. With high attention to detail and quality manufacturing, each ceramic piece is slip cast using porcelain, hand painted and fired to mid-range temperatures, minimising their carbon footprint on the environment.
How long have you been an Etsy seller?
In 2016 Samantha and Cecilia opened their Etsy store as C&S. At the end of 2017, they participated in their initial market at Fairfield City Museum and Gallery, and in October 2017 launched at Paddington Markets (Oxford Street, Paddington) on a regular basis. In August 2018, Cecilia, Samantha & Cynthia co-founded Oditi Designs and began trading as an Australian business.
Oditi Designs joined various Etsy groups online, and requested & received guidance from regular Etsy users. The Etsy website also contained an abundance of information on their features, how to attract customers, tutelage of photos, and the importance of using keywords in the product title so customers could find the Oditi Designs products amongst millions of other listings on Etsy.
Where do you call home and what your are creative hotspots where you live or beyond?
Our home is in the city of Campbelltown NSW, and our studio is in our home. The Macarthur Community College and the Campbelltown Regional Art Gallery in Campbelltown host workshops and exhibitions. But to view prominent exhibitions and local artist’s works, Cecilia, Samantha and Cynthia are required to travel into the Sydney CBD or interstate.
What inspires you to make and where do you get your inspiration from?
Cecilia, Samantha and Cynthia are descendants of the Mapuche people in southern Chile. Traditionally the indigenous Mapuche women were the makers of ceramic objects for their home or ruka (Mapuche home). They constructed vessels in the form of the female body and were given to other women as a special gift, celebrating the rite of passage for a girl becoming a woman, for a woman becoming a mother and for a woman when she dies.
Similar to the Mapuche women, Oditi Designs create ceramics that they use in their home and that can be gifted to loved ones to mark a rite of passage such as a wedding, an engagement, a birth or simply because you love the person.
Oditi’s designs are simple yet extravagant, bringing admiration and wonderment to the well-wisher and the recipient when the gift is unwrapped.
Cecilia has always had a fascination for portraying people’s personalities through her ceramic sculptures leading to her combining art with Oditi Designs luxurious homewares. The family trio began creating the doll cups with the different characters seen through the expressions on the faces of the doll cups.
What does your creative space look like? Are you a home based studio or do you have an external space? Tell us about your making process, what tools/materials/equipment do you use?
Oditi Designs is based in a home studio. All of the ceramic pieces are created in a large undercover area in the backyard (previously the BBQ entertaining area) and the jewellery is constructed inside the house where it is free of dust and the elements.
All of the ceramics are made with porcelain using moulds and the slip cast process. The prototypes are made by hand using hand building techniques and all of the leftover ceramic material is recycled. The prototypes for the round vases and cups were made using a pottery wheel when Cecilia was studying ceramics, but now they are constructed using moulds as there is no pottery wheel in the Oditi studio.
Oditi sources its powdered materials from a local family business. The powder is mixed with a hand held power tool, sifted in a large sieve (to get rid of the lumps) and transformed into slip which can then be cast. The sieve was constructed from reused materials donated by a family member and made by another family member.
Oditi Designs is very conscious of the environment and although they use organic paper materials for their packaging, they use plastics containers to store and keep the moisture in their casting slip during the making process:
- 30 litre plastic containers to mix the materials and to store it until needed, keeping it most and clean
- 5 litre plastic buckets with lids which that are reused to store the casting slip, until it’s needed. The smaller buckets relieve the strain on the arms, hands and backs as it’s easier to lift and hold when poring the slip into the moulds.
Samantha and Cecilia apply the lustre to all the ceramic pieces. During this process they chat about their week, recount any funny stories they have encountered, laugh uncontrollably and bond as mother and daughter.
The earrings are made in the same way as the homewares. When the ceramic process is complete, the ceramic pieces are taken inside the house to be assembled. Cecilia, Samantha and Cynthia discuss the different designs and styles and proceed to assemble the earrings. The earring clips or studs are glued and left to dry and then the rings and tassels are added to complete the artwork. The whole process is very collaborative and enables the mother, daughter, sister/aunty to come together and strengthen their relationship over a few laughs.
Tell us about a typical day for you in your creative practice! Do you follow a routine or have a different approach? Which part of the creative process is your favourite and why?
Accompanied by her loyal pooches, Cecilia steps out into her studio and sets ‘play’ on her favourite online series and sets to work.
The remnants from the previous day’s creativity process is cleared, and the murky water in the bucket is replaced with clean, fresh water. The tools are washed, the work bench is wiped clean and her hands are washed continuously throughout the day. The practice of reusing the water in the bucket for these tasks, reduces the water consumption in the studio.
All the cup casts in the plaster moulds left from the previous night are delicately removed and cleaned.
The Oditi logo is stamped onto the cups and are left to dry on the shelves.
During the casting process, the plaster moulds are filled with the casting slip, and the timer is set. When the timer rings, the doggies get startled and Cecilia pours out the remaining casting slip from the moulds and they are left to dry. After a couple of minutes, the cups are removed from inside the mould, they are cleaned and the Oditi logo is stamped onto the cups and the cups are left to dry again. This process is repeated throughout the day.
Samantha and Cynthia collaborate with the casting process in the afternoons or on weekends, as they both maintain a full-time occupation aside from Oditi Designs.
What would you say is the biggest challenge when running your own business? What is your favourite and least favourite part?
The biggest challenge in the business is the bookkeeping. Recording the business expenditure such as car travel and supplies, onto a spreadsheet and maintaining the receipts in a methodical manner, is very time consuming and boring. The sisters would much rather be creating and having a laugh whilst working together. Cynthia and Cecilia undertook a bookkeeping course to assist with this least favourite part of the business.
Cecilia, Samantha and Cynthia would have 2 favourites…seeing the joy on their customer’s faces when they encounter their products and the quality time the team gets to spend together in the designing, creating, planning and selling process.
What would you say is your proudest creative business achievement to date? And if it hasn’t happened yet, what do you aspire to?
In September 2019, Oditi participated in their first Handmade Canberra (HC) market. Having only ever taken part in outdoor markets such as The Rocks Markets and Paddington Markets in Sydney and always fighting with the elements, HC was a luxury event for Oditi. A lot of creative thought and work was done prior to HC and they debuted their new stall look, switching from a trestle table to a mobile pop-up shop with multiple shelves. The new set up was a success and Oditi Designs was awarded ‘Best in Show’. It was the first time since the market began in 2008, that the organisers made a unanimous decision and selected Oditi Designs for great products, displays, signage, pricing, customer service and social media promotion. Upon notification, Cecilia and Cynthia were so elated that they teared up, hugged each other and jumped up and down on the spot. They felt like they had won the lottery.
What do you think is the best thing about being in the creative industry in Sydney currently? What would you like to see change?
The multiple array of designer markets in different parts of Sydney & interstate is great. It gives the designer and the customer many options in which they can partake in.
What would your dream collaboration or project look like and who would it be with?
A dream collaboration for Oditi Designs would be to design and make a special edition of our products for a company as corporate gifts.
Where would you like to see your brand in 5 years time?
Oditi Designs’ aim is to have its products in boutiques and departments stores where stockists can sell its products to the general population.
Ultimately, Oditi Designs aspires to be on the shelves of David Jones. To be part of such an iconic Australian business that has led the field in high fashion since its foundation in 1838 would be spectacular.
What’s your favourite thing about being part of Sydney Made? Is this your first market, if not what do you like about attending our events?
Oditi Designs holds Sydney Made very close to their hearts, as they believed in the business & their products from a very early stage. In the first year of trading, Oditi was very young and still had a lot to learn when Sydney Made saw their potential and invited them to be part of their market. The family trio were so excited when they were accepted into Sydney Made, as it would be the first time participating in a ‘Designer Market’.
The Sydney Made team is very organised and complications free. Their instructions and correspondence are always clear and easy to follow.
The quality of the stalls and the actual markets are of a very high standard and Oditi feels so proud to be amongst other makers and designers who work so hard to make quality handmade products in Australia.
If you could give yourself a piece of advice when you began, what would it have been?
Believe in yourself and what you do and remember why you started doing what you love.
Eliminate fear and self-doubt because you know you have a great product and what you create is a result of your hard work and persistence.
Never give up.
Thanks for sharing your story Cecilia! We can’t wait to see your feature stall at the market, we know it will be fabulous and super creative!
Compiled by Sydney Made Leader – Katy of Shiztastic
To see more of our creative makers and designers, follow our Facebook page: Sydney Made