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Creative Outlet Turned Full Time Job

Gone are the days of uniform, run-of-the-mill tableware bought in bulk at a department store. These days it’s all about the unique, the handmade, the local makers who pour their passion into every piece. Jacquie Garcia is one of those makers, and Leiluca Ceramics is her way of sharing her love of art with the world.

Jacquie’s main focus is the production of simple, functional pieces, designed to be used and enjoyed every day. Sturdy coffee cups and travel mugs are perhaps her most popular products, but her range also includes serving ware, plant pots, vases and even ceramic earrings. Every Leiluca piece is different, ranging from hand-etched textures in neutral shades to swirling, colourful patterns reminiscent of ocean waves.

Art and creativity have been integral elements of Jacquie’s life since childhood. “As a child, I never went anywhere without a sketchbook, and my love for creating only became stronger as I grew up,” she says. Her journey began with pottery classes and painting at a young age, eventually leading to a Fine Arts degree majoring in Painting from Sydney’s National Art School.

Jacquie continued to dabble in ceramics on and off over the years, but it wasn’t until she started taking evening ceramics classes that the passion we see in her work today was truly rekindled. “When I had my first daughter Leila, I wanted to have something I could go to in the evenings and have time out to be creative again,” she explains. “I loved my creative time away and eventually spent more time again at home, creating usable items for gifts and the family.”

Around 18 months ago, Jacquie’s creative outlet became her full-time job. After increased interest in her products, she embraced the opportunity to dive in fully and grow her business. Her gratitude for her customers’ support is clear, and she’s quick to point out that she wouldn’t be where she is today without her loved ones: “My family are the reasons for each step I have taken in my life as an artist, from when I was a child to now, as an adult, embarking on this business journey.”

Most of Jacquie’s creations are made on the pottery wheel with earthy Australian stoneware clay. Pieces are finished with special glazes she creates to produce unique colour combinations, drawing her primary inspiration from the natural environment. It’s easy to see where the influence of local beaches and lakes comes in – many pieces are adorned with oceanic swirls of blue and green, accented by the bright white of seafoam. Texture is also becoming increasingly important in Jacquie’s creative process, and the Leiluca product range is expanding all the time as she experiments with combinations of colour, texture and different glazes. “I love how you can create beautiful patterns and journeys in the clay using only the clay itself and a simple glaze,” she says.

Since taking Leiluca Ceramics full-time, Jacquie has never looked back. Whether it’s preparing products for upcoming markets, creating custom orders or experimenting with new designs, her studio is her happy place, her creative process both a therapeutic practice and the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. “I love going into my studio every day, being my own boss, knowing I am in control of my practice and am lucky enough to do what I love as a job. I love thinking that what I make today will end up cherished and used in a home, workplace or any other destination,” she says. “Being an artist is one of the biggest joys of my life. Creating is like a therapy. It balances my soul and makes everything right in the world.”

Stop by the Leiluca Ceramics stall next time you’re at Newcastle’s Olive Tree Market (August 3, September 7 and October 5) at Civic Park. You can also find Jacquie’s work at Newcastle Art Gallery, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery and Tailored HQ on Watt Street. And follow @leilucaceramics on Instagram and Facebook to see all her latest products!

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