Amanda Bialk creates handmade ceramics in Cincinnati. This amazing Ohio artist makes art using hand-thrown clay and a wheel. We love the unique shapes and luster-styles that Amanda's products feature. Meet Amanda Bialk Makes Art at our Mini Holiday Maker Mart Popup Shop on December 9th!
Tell us about your background and your local business.
My business is Amanda Bialk Makes Art. I have a Bachelor's of Fine Arts from UC DAAP. Stumbling upon ceramics in my last year at university, I found myself in love with the medium, especially wheel thrown objects. Combining my love for organic and modern forms into my handmade pieces, I create simple vessels that are functional and beautiful. Nothing excites me more than creating work that someone will treasure and display in their home; a space I believe truly defines us. To be let into someone's home through my work brings me the greatest joy.
What drew you to your craft?
Originally I was not drawn to ceramics but was focusing on photography. The summer before my senior year I took a required ceramics course for the art therapy certificate I was working towards and it changed my life. I took as many ceramics courses as I could in the time I had left at DAAP and incorporated it into my thesis as much as possible. There's just something about taking organic materials and changing them into a functional object that someone will use in their everyday life that is so thrilling for me and I still wish I found it earlier in my education.
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
This is a really hard question but I made a large bowl when I was in school that I absolutely love. I had to keep it for myself. It's this beautiful blue glaze that I don't work with anymore and every time I use it, it just makes whatever it's purpose, be it serving or cooking with, just a little brighter.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I was all over the place with what I wanted to be from a photojournalist, writer, to professional athlete. I do specifically remember doing one of those about me- student of the week type projects in first grade in which I said I wanted to be an artist. I drew this elaborate crayon picture of me painting a landscape with wind swirls like "Starry Night" that I was so excited about.
What is your creative process?
Usually my creative process starts with me just experimenting on the wheel. I usually know that I want to make a mug or a vase, I'll weigh out the amount of clay that I usually use for that size piece and play until I find a shape I love. From there I'll take down measurement and clay weight so I can recreate the piece. Next comes bisk firing, glazing, glaze firing then my favorite step- gold luster. I hand paint the luster then do a final firing and have my final product!
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
I'd probably tell 15 year old me to not take everything so seriously. I think I still need to tell myself that! I've always been one that cares very deeply about what I am doing and sometimes I need to remind myself to enjoy the process too. I know I was really bad at that as a kid but can see when I'm falling into that habit now and can take a step back.
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
Not only are you buying something unique and handmade when you buy from a local maker, but you are also buying something that has so much love in it it. You know you own something that was created because the maker has so much passion for their work and that's a real special thing.
Why do you love doing what you do?
I love making work that someone will love and cherish within their home. Knowing that someone will use a mug I made every day for their coffee or put a lovely bouquet of flowers in a vase and look at it every day fills my heart. Home is a really special place for me and is a place that truly defines us. I'm a home body so I try to create a space that feels comfortable and safe and to be welcomed into someone else's space through my artwork is a wonderful feeling.
What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own businesses?
My advice is to take the leap and put yourself out there. It's hard to take that step and open yourself up like that but to connect with people through your artwork is an incredible thing and taking that chance to share what you love making is never not worth it.
What is your favorite thing about Exploring Ohio?
Ohio is such an amazing state. I've lived here my whole life and one of my favorite things still is exploring my city. I lived outside Cincinnati for most of my life and from being a child coming down to baseball games to now living and working downtown and seeing the transformation in my own stomping grounds is something to be proud of. Its become an amazing city for cultivating makers and artists and I'm so excited to be a part of that community.