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Fleur Schell workshop at Gaya Ceramics in Ubud Bali

It takes a village to raise a child
with Fleur Schell
August 13-26, 2023

I recently did a two week workshop with Australian Clay Artist, Fleur Schell. We focused on hand-building
with mid-fire porcelains. Fleur demonstrated how she combines pinched, rolled, coiled and
textured objects in the nuisanced style that is central to her practice. She explained how she
transforms poignant words into a three dimensional story, beginning with an inspirational
quote or saying. We then built our own village or imagined world including a teapot,
a house and a bird.
The largest piece was a stylised child-like figure. Through a series of step by step
demonstrations Fleur explained how she builds a complex figure with an expressive face and
hands. she also discussed how she plays with conventions and expectations through props,
which act as signifiers to contextualise the figure. Ultimately Fleur emphasized the
importance of spending time focusing on the details of the parts to achieve a richly detailed
and sentimental whole.


Nestled in the heart of Bali’s cultural hub, Ubud, lies a hidden gem for art enthusiasts and creative souls – Gaya Ceramic. Bali has long been known for its vibrant culture, lush landscapes, and artistic heritage. Among the myriad of art forms that thrive in this enchanting island, ceramic art at Gaya Ceramic stands out as a testament to Bali’s rich artistic tradition.

Gaya Ceramic in Ubud, Bali, is not just a place to make art; it’s a place to connect with Bali’s rich cultural heritage and unleash your inner artist. The experience of creating something beautiful with your own hands is a memory that will stay with you long after you leave Bali.

Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply seeking a unique and enriching experience during your visit to Ubud, Gaya Ceramic offers a doorway into the captivating world of ceramics. It’s a testament to the enduring power of art to inspire, connect, and transform.

Day 1
The Humble Cup

I ended up making three cups. They were all pretty terrible. We were all getting used to unfamiliar clay that was quite hard to work with. But I knew I was there to learn, not produce my usual standard of work. So learning to live with the subpar work I was producing became ok.

Constructing a Village
Putting it all together…combining slab building, pinching, coiling, and cut and paste to create a
layered and highly detailed environment.
Exploring scale, contrast between busy and still, and understanding the importance of focusing
on the detail at the edges of a form.

I spent five hours on my single house then it collapsed as I added my top layer. I was tired and felt frustrated . My internal monologue was “f this I’m not making another house I don’t have time I’m just going to sit here and do a tiny bit so it looks like I’m working” .

But i started on a new house and i learned from my collapse. So it started to come together. So in three hours i finished my house, it wasn’t a good house but it was finished. I’m pretty proud of my ability to get over the disaster and keep working.

Day 3
Building a Narrative Teapot
Constructing a utilitarian object that is playful and ergonomic.

My previous idea that I would build so many beautiful things during the workshop had disappeared by day three. The clay is unpredictable and we were learning brand new things. so just completing the projects each day no matter how ugly they may look became my focus. My sock toy teapot was a tiny bit easier. I started to get used to the clay and was getting a little better.

Day 5

Starting our large figure.

Day 6
Deconstructing the Figure …From the Shoes Up.
Advanced hand building – building bigger means building thicker. Achieving larger voluminous
forms without stressing the porcelain. Using building methods introduced in week one, and
learn the order or sequence of things to ensure stability, authenticity, and structural integrity.

Making these shoes was probably the most in the zone I’d felt. I really enjoyed making them.

Day 8
Building a Totem Figure
Unload the kiln. Sand and glaze bisque work for next firing. Fleur will demonstrate how she
glazes her work using copper wash and stained glaze.

Continue building the figure with an emphasis on the legs and body. Consider the pyroplastic
nature of porcelain and how mass and gravity impact the figure during firing. Discuss post fired

Day 9
Features on the face
Continue building the figure with an emphasis on the eyes, nose, ears and mouth.

Day 10
Excursion. Escape the confines of the studio for a day! Finding inspiration and distraction in
Bali’s natural beauty.

Day 11
Unload kiln. Reflect on results of firing.
Building hands

Day 12
Finishing touches.
Final day to build, resolve installation. Add touches of colour and play with the relationship
between all the components.

day 13
Discuss the successes and failures.
pack our work to take home.

This whole trip was pretty difficult for me. Travelling without richard, not getting much sleep, we worked more and longer days so we could fire our large figure. Fleur was a loving and invested tutor. She gave us so much information not just about techniques but also about professional development and our art careers.

I am so glad that i did this workshop . I’m really proud of myself for completing every single thing we were tasked with. Many other people chose to exclude some projects so they had more time. I worked my ass off and even though i don’t have much work to show for it, I’ve come away with so much more. I met some wonderful like minded people.

I kept thinking that you don’t always have to have fun or enjoy what you are doing to benefit from it. I’m a homebody introvert and i can find lots of stuff stressful, I found most of my time in bali as stressful, but i was there to learn from fleur and i made the most of that.

Now I will see how I can move forward with my practice with everything new I’ve learned.


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