Frederika Ernsten was born in Netherlands and emigrated to New Zealand in 1960. She attended night classes run by Yugoslavian potter Michael Trumic (b.1926) in Christchurch, and then set up a co-operative pottery studio called Studio 393 in 1967. Here Ernsten experimented and developed her technique for five years before selling her work. Ernsten is a past president of the Canterbury Potters Society, formed in 1963 to co-ordinate the common interests of local potters. Her work is represented in several public and private collections including the Japanese Embassy, Department of Foreign Affairs, Wellington, Christchurch Art Gallery and the Dunedin Museum.