C O L O R

  
  
   
  
  
 

First row, left to right: Mark Rothko painting No. 22, 1949, 1920s Chicago Transit Authority poster, and Bev Hisey Reflective Folk CushionSecond row: autumn leaves, Andrew Zuckerman bird photograph and my warm-toned glazes;  Third row: Berlin Festival of Lights, Dave Jordano Storefront Church photograph and a Sevres potpourri vase;  Fourth row: Andrew Zuckerman Masked Lovebird photograph and my cool-toned glazes;  Fifth row: Hindu (Holi) Festival of Colours, JollyBe Chrysanthemums wedding cake, and peacock;  Sixth row: Cole & Son Dorset wallpaper, botanical print and Felissimo’s Colored Pencil SetLast row: KiBiSi chairs and a Viola Frey figure.

Oh, how I love color.

I suppose most everyone enjoys color, but if there were a 1 to 10 rating for color love, I would be at a 9 or 10 on the scale. I envy synesthetes and think about color throughout my day, in and out of the studio. I have a similar response to color that others do when they eat a piece of chocolate—that little butterfly feeling of yum.

Darks.

These tumbler images (above and below) represent the myriad of ways the nine colors in my palette can be placed together to give a completely different color feel.

Lights.

One of my grad school (MFA, Ohio U. 2001) professors, Joe Bova, recently commented to me that he believes “color is the most personal element in art”.  I certainly took a lot of time considering my color palette when I switched from high-fire soda (a more limited inherently glossy palette) to mid-range electric where the options are delightfully and overwhelmingly limitless.

Fruity.

I spent several months testing glazes to find both the color and quality (“breaking” satin vs. glossy) that best suits my work and me.  There were several determining factors.  The first and most important is that since I spend more time around my work than anyone else, I wanted colors I enjoy.  I also wanted colors that work well together, that compliment each other.  Finally, I wanted a palette that gives my collectors options: some people prefer neutrals, some prefer brights, and I have both as well as what’s in between.

Autumnal.

Because my work is predominantly monochrome*, I don’t think it’s as recognized for its color because an individual piece isn’t particularly colorful (i.e. having multiple colors).  Though I am currently running some new tests to add stripes and dots of patterned color, “colorful” in my pots comes from their proximity to each other.  I love seeing which colors my customers pair, mix and match when they buy 2, 4 or 12 pieces.

Neutrals.

All of my glaze colors are warm-toned, meaning that even the cool colors (blue, purple and green) have yellow undertones.  The names I have given the nine colors are Ivory (an off-white that looks almost like leatherhard porcelain), Frost (the super pale turquoise that looks a bit like a celadon), Honeycomb (a pale, warm yellow), Lime (a fruity yellow-green), Rosa (a salmon-y, mahogany pink), Cornflower blue (a rich lighter blue), Grape (a warm, plum-y purple), Caramel (a very yummy gold brown) and Blackberry (a deep wine, purple-y red).
Naturals.

On most forms, the satin glaze is the most visible, but the interiors are lined with a glossy version of the outside color, so I really work with 18 glazes.  Some forms, like my bowls and serving pieces, reveal more of the glossy color.  I like the contrast of satin to shine, so in addition to keeping the food surfaces functional with a glossy glaze, it is an aesthetic choice too.

Romantic.

Choosing glaze colors is not like picking out paint (potters will sardonically laugh and nod at that statement) because there is chemistry, elemental change and heat involved.  Red and blue does not necessarily make purple in the clay world.  My color palette came from having a sense of colors I wanted ( a green, a purple, a red—one of the hardest colors to “get” in ceramics, etc.) and then testing to match that expectation with the possibilities paired with my clay, cost of materials, firing temperature and application, not to mention aesthetic goals.  As my husband would say, it’s tricky business.

Cools.

I gather inspiration for color from everywhere.  There are my “usual” sources (period clothing, Art Nouveau prints, Islamic architecture, etc.), but there are also more obscure suggestions for color, like the images at the beginning of this post.  Right now I’m liking the blue in the shadows of the snow, the transitional green from light to dark inside an avocado and I keep thinking of that orange that was in a room my husband and I stayed at in Iceland six years ago.

Festive.

I believe the color in my work is one of several elements which makes my pots unique.  I agree with my professor that color is personal, a way to relay an emotion or spark a memory.  It’s a fascinating subject.

*I tend to use one color or two similar colors on a piece because I feel this best shows off the form, where multiple colors tend to divide the form. Imagine a woman wearing a purple shirt, blue belt and yellow pants next to one wearing a purple dress.

Teaching Again!

wccclayclassI am very pleased to announce, share or repeat that the Worcester Center for Crafts is re-opening this January!  Some of you may know about its closure, but I am now delighted to report that Enameling, Glass, Metals, Photography and CERAMICS (both wheel-throwing and handbuilding) studios will all begin classes the week of January 18th.

And after a year “off” from where I taught for over seven years, I will be back teaching Wednesday mornings and evenings! This news is nothing short of miraculous.  Please show your support by joining WCC’s email list here, taking a one-day workshop, attending exhibitions in the gallery, buying handmade in the gift shop, volunteering for events, and of course, signing up for a class the week of Thanksgiving!  Our community has much to be thankful for!

My House is Filled with Birds

Owls_on_bike Fridge_bird
Hummingbird Candlestick

Clockwise from top right: Bird magnet (Kathryn Finnerty pot in background); Robin candlestick (John Glick pot in background); Hummingbird from a French deco/vintage bird illustration calendar; and Owls on tandem bicycle tea towel.

I made my first bird stamp during a workshop I taught in spring of 2006 at the Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts in Asheville, NC.  The idea of incorporating animals into my patterning had been brewing for a while, and a little chubby bird was the first to make his way around one of my pots.  Since then I have made over 20 animal stamps, but birds are definitely the dominate animal in my stamp bin.

Brick_birds Chicken
To-do_bird Bead_bird

Clockwise from top right: Glass chicken from my Great Grandma; Beaded Hornbill by an African artist; Bird ornament;and a Kiwi (?) on a reclaimed brick from the Non Fiction Design Collective with a blue, glass bird from my Grandma.

The birds pictured in this post came from almost every room in our house. I don’t consider us collectors of bird items and imagery, but noticed one day how many keep us company. I did a post recently about pattern in our home and how those things we see every day happily creep into our creative minds. I imagine this bird menagerie has certainly influenced my work.

Coo-koo_clock Benjie
Birdcage Duck

Clockwise from top right: Earthenware Rubber duck from Benjie Heu’s Trophy sculpture series; Female Mallard Duck painting by Andrew Woodward; Cockatiels in cage image; and Cuckcoo clock image.

There are three primary reasons I began to incorporate bird (and animal) imagery into my pots.  One, by adding a bird into the layers on a piece, the surface is more than just a pattern: it becomes an environment.  The second is my continuing interest in Art Nouveau pattern and decoration.  There are many gorgeously rendered animals with flowing lines and curlicues I admire depicted in illustrations, textiles and objects from that era.  A Nouveau bird as a repeated motif blurs into a lacey pattern and then re-emerges as a stately flock as our eyes choose on which lines to focus.  The third reason is because they make me happy.

Glass_Bird Kiwi
Joe Bluebird

Clockwise from top right:  Porcelain and fabric Kiwi by Roberta Massuch; Angry Bluebird fridge magnet;Soda-fired porcelain Bird by Joe Bova; and Glass Dove by Beth Lipman.

I developed the fascination for animals and plants from my family of ardent nature-lovers.  From my fifth-grade science teacher Mr. Morton, the love for birds, their names and calls grew even more.  (He could imitate any bird, and I thought that was super cool.)  I have binoculars sitting on my desk by my computer to see “who” is flying through the trees in our backyard.  I plant perennials to attract different species, and was ecstatic this summer to see gold finches treating our garden like their own private, gourmet hangout.

Birdcage_tweet Gingko
Glass-candle Oven_bird

Clockwise from top right: Nuthatch in Gingko ink and color painting by Liang Wei; Blackbird toy; Hummingbird glass candleholder; and Wind-up caged bird.

I imagine artists are drawn to animal imagery for a variety of reasons.  Aside from the long, long history of birds depicted in ceramics by every culture imaginable, the use of animals in contemporary ceramics imagery—and birds in particular—has become popular in the last couple of years. (I’ve indeed heard that “birds are the new fish” for pottery.)  We see birds every day (fish, not so much).  Their image represents everything from hope and history to peace and protection.  In this era of technology and fast-pace, I wonder if makers now are drawn to nature and its animals for the same reason we hope the general public will continue to be drawn to handmade objects.

Heade_birds Owl
Shaw_bowl Toucans

Clockwise from top right: Barn Owl photograph by Sharon Montrose; Toucans in a Guinness beer sign;Porcelain Bird Flock Man Bowl by Sandy Shaw; and postcard of Passion Flowers and Hummingbirds painting by Martin Johnson Heade.

“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.” –Victor Hugo

KK_bird_Corset_detail KK_Bird_cups_detail

Details from my work: Two Sparrows Flower Vessel (Corset series)
and a grouping of stamped bird cups.

My Sketchbook: Not Just for Sketches

KKActualSketchbookII KKSketchbook4_09 KKSketchbook11_08KKSketchbook11_08II KKSketchbook_09_weaves KKSketchbook_chinaKKSketchbook_layers KKSketchbook_lighting KKSketchbook_oldKKSketchbook_oldII KKSketchbook_WW_Queen KKSketchbook_yummy

More than half my sketchbook is made up of gathered images, making my sketchbook as much an idea book as a place to draw.  Collected images, often mashed-up and flipped around, have become an important part of my process and influence to my work.  When I teach workshops, I usually pass out my last sketchbook because I think it is just as important to see how an artist develops an idea (the origination of a form, texture or sensation) as it is to see a demonstrated technique.  I gather images from all over (magazines, catalogs, museum pamphlets, postcards, etc.) so it’s hard to know where an image came from or when, and while I’ve gotten pretty good at noting what is in the image, sometimes there are lapses, so if it’s not noted now, I didn’t note it before.

KKActualSketchbookII KKSketchbook4_09

First row: This is my current sketchbook (’08-present). I made it using coptic binding, sewn with black waxed thread, allowing it to sit flat when open.  I use duct tape to strengthen and protect the corner edges and signatures for studio use and travel. The outside is collaged with sections from soap boxes. The second image has pictures of women’s and boy’s Russian munisak robes from late 19th to 20th century mixed with architectural details from a contemporary home.  I put these disparate images together because I liked the highly ornate from one time period next to the minimal of another, and both carry ideas for pottery deco.

KKSketchbook11_08 KKSketchbook11_08II

Second row: This first image is a mixture of writing and animal drawings of mine for stamps, collaged with animals from a catalog and Deerfield, a sculpture by Anne Lemanski. The second are notes I jotted next to a variety of industrial design objects and furniture I find influential for form and detail, including Devils wallpaper by Waterhouse for Brunschwig & Fils; Bluffer fauteuil by India Mahdavi for Ralph Pucci; wire birdcage candelabra by The Conran Shop; Variér Eight chair by Olav Eldøy; Now Isn’t That Lovely #7 sculpture by Stephen Johnson; and My Beautiful Backside couch by Doshi Levien for Moroso.

KKSketchbook_09_weaves KKSketchbook_china

Third row: The left image is a pairing in textures.  I love the negative space in each, but I mostly enjoy the dense texture that creates each shape: Light of Tomorrow sculpture by Mimura Chikuho and Welcome the Cube black jacket by Giles Deacon for Fay.  The second image is a collaged influence mixture of manufactured china by Calvin Klein, Paola Navone, Royal CrownDerby and Royal Copenhagen with a photograph I took of a painting in a window storefront in Berlin.

KKSketchbook_layers KKSketchbook_lighting

Fourth row: In the first image, the first page shows the dining room in Donatella Versace’s Milan apartment with murals of Chinese vases and jars on the walls.  The second page is a collage of fabric and wallcoverings by Jakob Schlaepfer with Baccarat Apparat crystal cups and decanter by 5.5 Designers.  On each page, I like the layering and the “real” mixed with its 2-D version.  The second image shows my affection for lighting as influence.  I have both these George Nelson pendant lamps and this Murano glass chandelier (I love the other colors it comes in too) in two different sketchbooks, I like them so much.  They are purposefully flipped sideways and upsidedown to suggest other forms.

KKSketchbook_old KKSketchbook_oldII

Fifth row: The first image is actually an old pairing I use in my slide presentation and had on my studio walls for years.  I put the two together because both Art Nouveau advertising images and Haute Couture clothing are influences, and because their stance and gesture are remarkably similar.  On the left page of the second image is a magazine ad with imagery that becomes tattoo-like, collaged over with a bird I cut out from a friend’s card.  The layering and suggestion is something I would like to have in my work.  The right-hand page is also a very old magazine ad that has been on various studio walls and in my slide presentation.  I purposefully taped this upsidedown to change the context from a couture Miyake dress to the silhouette of a footed vase with striking shadows and pin-stripes.  A reminder to play and change my perspective.

KKSketchbook_WW_Queen KKSketchbook_yummy

Last row:  The left image features two well-known characters and actors.  The costume/dress of both Wonder Woman (a childhood hero of mine) and Queen Elizabeth have been influences because of  their decorative and structured forms.  The contrast and similarity of these two pictures of strong women is both humorous and striking.  The second picture is another interesting pairing that I have titled “yummy” in my mind.  The shapes are curiously similar, but what I appreciate in each is their very different take on extravagance, decadence and compound form.  A crystal chandelier on the left and a sculpture detail of Cherry Bodies by Nikki Renee Anderson on the right.

PS: A hazard of having a glass of (red) wine while doodling in your sketchbook is a spill that results in wrinkled and lavender-tinged page edges.

Favorites & Influences from the PMA

After teaching my workshop last Thursday at a community college outside of Philadelphia, I spent a leisurely afternoon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Friday. It was my second visit, and I highly recommend it.  Larger images of the entire collection are posted at the PMA website (I could only snag the smaller to post here).  These are some of my favorite objects, many of which I sketched and noted in my little sketchbook for future reference and influence.

animals_in_diamond_delft chest_over_drawers compote
green_vase bird_on_a_trough candlestick_sevres coffeepot coffeepot_ri
cylinder_desk_and_bookcase document_box dressing_table_pa
footstool_american bird_tree giorgio_morandi_still_life_1946
interior_of_a_cafe jug_iznik lilac_blossoms
mj_heade pair_of_candelabra persian_tabouret
pillow_song side_chair_pa spice_box two_hares vase_on_brass_mount
vase_with_lid wardrobe
surtout_centerpiece sofa yuan_pillow

From top left, first row: Animals in Diamonds (Dutch/Delft tiles) c.1585 Netherlands; Chest over Drawers, Pennsylvania c.1792; Compote, c.1846 France for President Polk; Second row: Vase, Chicago Terra Cotta Works 19thc. Illinois; Bird at Trough, c.1850 Pennsylvania German; Candlestick, c.1761 Sèvres, France; Coffeepot, c. 1800 Pennsylvania German; Coffeepot, c.1899 Rhode Island; Third row: Cylinder Desk and Bookcase, c.1800 PA; Document Box (painted tin), c.1830 PA; Dressing Table, c.1715 PA;  Fourth row: Footstool, c. 1730 PA; Bird Tree, c.1810 Pennsylvania German; Still Life by Giorgio Morandi, 1946; Fifth row: Interior of a Café by Santiago Rusiñol, 1892; Jug, 17th c. Iznik, Turkey; Lilac Blossoms by Christiaen van Pol, c.1800; Sixth row: Orchids in a Jungle by Martin Johnson Heade, c.1870s; Pair of Candelabra designed by Louis-Constant Sévin, c.1862 France; Tabouret (Persian), early 13th c. Iran; Seventh row: Pillow, Song Dynasty (960-1127) China; Side Chair, c.1870 PA; Spice Box (Painted maple), c. 1870 PA; Two Hares in Moonlight by Cho Tai Eok, Chosòn Dynasty 18th c. Korea; Vase on Brass Mount (glass), c. 1910 U.S.; Eighth row:Vase with Lid, c. 1768 Sèvres, France; Wardrobe designed by Sir Ambrose Heal, c. 1910 England; Last row: Centerpiece (Surtout), Strasbourg faience factory, c.1729 France; Sofa (one of a pair) c.1725 England; Pillow, Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) China.

Household Influences, Part I

Some of the household details I see everyday in our home, which must seep into my subconscious and penetrate my ideas:

kk_tt_tansu kk_antique_mirror kk_blueandwhite kk_asian_plantstand1 kk_chair_upholstry kk_dish_from_gma kk_dutchtile_and_soap kk_french_table kk_gmas_bells kk_haeger_and_jgreentile kk_jewelrybox_collection kk_kilim kk_nouveau_poster kk_kitchen_blacksplash kk_leaded_glass kk_roadside_lamp kk_samurai kk_shamrocks kk_sidebyside1 kk_us_map1 kk_wool_rug

From top left: “Tabletop Tanzu” detail, walnut and butternut, by Trevor Toney (my husband); Antique mirror, beveled and etched, gift from friends; Blue and white plate (New Wharff Pottery, England) from my Grandma Idene; Second row: Asian plant stand, Brimfield flea market, MA; Upholstery from old armchair, Tiffin, OH antique store; Translucent china-painted dish given to my Grandma by her “8th grade teacher and basketball coach for graduation, 1939″; Third row: Dutch tile (antique store in Nelsonville, OH) and soap boxes; 19th c. French country walnut table, salvaged; Christmas bells from my Grandparents house; Fourth row: Haeger planters and Jason Green tile; Various jewelry boxes including antique black and white ovals (Findley, OH), a Shaker oval (Royal Oak, MI), pyrography box by a Great uncle and a Matt Metz; Kilim rug;  Fifth row: Art Nouveau poster (Tiffin, OH); Our presumably 50′s era kitchen backsplash; Leaded glass window from Detroit flea market;  Sixth row: Working lamp from Ann Arbor, MI electrican’s dumpster; Poster from the Worcester Art Museum’s “Art of the Samurai” exhibition, 2003; Shamrock plant bought in Ann Arbor; Seventh row: 1920s oak side-by-side detail from New Hampshire; United States map detail in my studio; and wool rug from MA antique shop.

The Economy Hits Home

wccclayclassToday (1/6) I received a phone call that the Worcester Center for Crafts —which has been open for 152 years and where I have taught for almost 8— is closing for a “strategic pause”, and without a serious infusion of cash, will close permanently.  This is very sad news for the metro Worcester community, Massachusetts, New England and the craft world as a whole, and very hard news for those of us who depend on the income from teaching and working at the Center. I, my husband and our WCC friends and colleagues, as well as our students, will be deeply impacted by this.

wcc

Information from today’s (1/7) local online paper:  “Almost all the center’s staff of about 45 people, most of them part time [instructors like me], have been laid off… To reopen, the Center needs about $1.2 million, to retire debt and finance a restart, a steep challenge in the current economic climate.”

wcc_wheelstudio

There is more information about the Center at the WCC website where you can check for updates and make donations: http://www.worcestercraftcenter.org

“Sustaining craft as a vital part of our world.”