Online Shopping Till 4/10

EtsyI wanted to share that I will be emptying my Online Etsy Shop April 10th, and won’t be restocking until the end of May. Additionally, I won’t be having my Annual Spring Studio Sale here in MA this year.

So! If you have some springtime gifting needs, or have been eyeing something special, now’s the time! There are many wonderful pots in my shop ready to ship.

Thank you as always for supporting Elegant & Handmade
from my studio, and Happy Spring!

Fresh & Springy

Kristen Kieffer Pierced basket Square Mishima Periwinkle kimono I  Kristen Kieffer Pierced basket Square Mishima Periwinkle kimono IIKristen Kieffer Pierced basket Blue Mishima kimono

It’s not remotely spring here in north central boonies Massachusetts, but my internal spring clock is TICKING! If I can’t have flowers outside, I can sure make them happen in my studio.

Along with the flourishing florals are ongoing and new investigations in form and layers. I continue to be excited about pierced forms, and have some new larger ones pictured here (which are loosely inspired by kimono fabrics). I’ve added two new glossy glaze colors (Violet and Aqua), and am continuing to play with Mishima. Lastly, I have introduced some new stamp patterns, and have a new bowl style.

Some of these pots are destined for shows, but others are popping up in my online Etsy shop like springtime daffodils.

Kristen Kieffer Pierced basket Frost Mishima kimono
Kristen Kieffer tableware place setting plate, cup, bowlKristen Kieffer Pierced basket Square Mishima Frost kimono I  Kristen Kieffer Pierced basket Square Mishima Frost kimono II
Kristen Kieffer Stamped cups grouping
Kristen Kieffer Yellow pear w. lime medium plate  Kristen Kieffer large dinner plate Spring green leaf stripe
Kristen Kieffer medium sandwich plate Aqua  Kristen Kieffer Violet indigo medium sandwich plate
Kristen Kieffer Pierced basket Aqua floral

Ready To Ship

            

These and many more great goodies are in my online shop ready to ship, for gifters who want to share thoughtful, handmade craftsmanship, and giftees who want to receive ‘ornately elegant for everyday.’

Pots usually ship next day. Order before December 18th to insure Christmas arrival.

My shop will stay well-stocked through mid-January for those who receive Etsy Gift Cards or holiday spending money for post-Christmas shopping too.

Thank you for buying and giving from my studio
this season and throughout the year!

Worcester Living Highlight

Worcester Living cover, Winter issue 2013 Worcester Living title page with Kristen Kieffer

Pictured: Left, Worcester Living cover, Winter 2013 issue.
Right, me on the article title page throwing in my studio, p. 51.

I’m delighted to share a local feature about me, my work and studio in the article “12 Crafters to know in Central Mass” for the new issue of Worcester Living magazine.

Kristen Kieffer Ceramics in Worcester Living, "12 crafters to know in Central Mass,"Winter 2013Author Julia Quinn Szcesuil wanted to highlight artists who live, work, and sell in Worcester County, but have also developed a following and sales nationally through online shops and social media. She did a great job summarizing my thoughts as a maker (which you can read by clicking the image left), and photographer Tom Rettig did a great job of getting me to smile.

Central MA-ers can always find my work in Worcester at the Worcester Center for Crafts where I also teach adult community pottery classes, as well as visit my my biannual home studio sales here in Templeton, usually in early May and early November. (To receive updates about new work, studio sales, and more, sign up for my not-too-frequent enewsletter,  connect with me on Facebook, and/or subscribe to my blog in the upper right of my website.)

And everyone can shop my online Etsy store, which is open and chock-full for the holidays with a few new pots to come in early December!

New Work, Studio & Online Sales

Kristen Kieffer fruit basketMy home Holiday Studio Sale here in Massachusetts is this weekend, and for the many of you who are too far to attend, I’ll be promptly posting new work in my online shop just after. Here are the facts:

Holiday Studio Sale
Saturday, November 2nd 10 – 5 &
Sunday, November 3rd 11 – 4
Full details are right here.

Online Etsy Adds
Beginning Tuesday, November 5th at Noon EST, I’ll begin rolling out new work with 20 new pieces, including pierced baskets, cups with new stamps, and Mishima plates.

Kristen Kieffer Gal skull cupKK Ocean MishimaKristen Kieffer flower basket

Thank you for supporting creativity and community
by buying and giving handmade this holiday season.

New Wall Candy

Kristen Kieffer wall pillow tile trio

I wrote about these new pillow tiles for 2013 here, and am delighted to share some from round two, all of which are available exclusively in the Wall Art section of my online shop.

I love the idea of grouping these ‘ceramic, candy collages’ (as my color palette is specifically chosen for pieces to be mixed and matched, and like candy, it’s hard to choose just one!), but I also make these to stand alone as a lovely focal point and accent for the home.

They have become a favorite for me to make, and I make them for the same reason I make a cup or plate: to bring a little beauty to the everyday.  So whether on the wall or at the table, I believe we all need a daily dose of elegance.

Wall pillow tile Aqua  Wall pillow tile Yellow PearWall pillow tile Honeycomb  Wall pillow tile Spring green

Detail Within Detail & Luxury

Kieffer Matryoshka doll cup in progress  Kieffer Matryoshka doll cup in progress slip-trailKristen Kieffer signature and KK chop  Kristen Kieffer Matryoshka, quail and Nouveau cups

Above are a couple in progress shots of me brushing blue underglaze into the stamped pattern of a cup, and then slip-trailing even more detail within. I designed and made this stamp after my childhood Matryoshka doll set, which now happily resides on my adult dining room bookshelf, and is looking at me as I write about her (them).

I throw, stamp (usually between 16 -18 stamps per depending on the stamp size), and alter each of this style cup, hand-pull and build the two-piece handles, and finish with slip-trail, and —now, about 2/3 of the time— underglaze deco.

I take out 25 or so stamps I designed and made to decorate my usual series of 30 cups, which keeps it interesting for me and adds to the one-of-a-kind nature of my work. Combined with my use of 10 different color glazes and 4 different color underglazes, there’s rarely two cups a year with the same stamp in the same colors. Plus, I’m also always adding and subtracting stamp patterns from my repertoire. So, there were only two Matryoshka cups in this series, each in a different blue, one with sky blue detail, the other with tangerine.

Kristen Kieffer chop signature KKI sign all of my pots with a stamp I made (1999-00) of how I print my last name, ‘Kieffer.’ My cups also receive a second stamp at the base of my two-part handles: a mirrored pair of Ks. The KK styling is how I first signed my pots, and is a nod to my beginnings in clay (1991); a sentimental signature.

My cups are glazed with a satin exterior and glossy interior of similar colors to contrast the surface, add to the tactility and function, and allow the monochrome color to balance the surface and highlight the form. Glossy glaze is also brushed into the stamping to catch shine off the satin during use.

Each cup is individually made for comfort, durability, use, AND elegance. A study into the impact of cutlery and tableware on eating and enjoyment summarized in this NPR story perfectly reflects my goal of bringing ornate to the everyday. A handmade cup and plate can be a scientifically proven luxury that enhances your food and drink, a mini daily celebration for yourself. You can procure some of your own pottery enjoyment in my online shop right here.

Spring Flora for You

Cornflower blue flower brick Frost deluxe clover cup Spring green dessert plate Grape small covered jarPeriwinkle corset vessel Garnet stamped cup Yellow pear screen vase pair Cornflower blue cocktail cup

My online Etsy shop is brimming with new work for spring!

I’m dreaming of my garden and warmer temps, and in doing so, have added lots of new pots ~ some have flowers on them, some hold flowers, and the others you can use while just dreaming about springtime flora. Thank you for supporting handmade pots that celebrate luxury for everyday. Click here to have a look!

Layered Layers

Kristen Kieffer Yunomi Mishima groupingYunomi detail

I spend most of my studio time thinking about (and blog time writing about) form and pattern interplay. My decoration can’t exist without the forms they wrap around, and the forms are incomplete without their surface layers. I make decorative ceramics because I love clay as a material, function as a parameter, and pattern as a layer that ties it all together.

I’m not sure where my love of decoration and pattern began. Perhaps going to antique shops as a kid had influence. Maybe it was the endless drawings with my Spirograph. There’s just something about pattern that feels like home to me. Like touching my Grandma Idene’s funky necklace or filigree bracelet as a kid during a car ride, and asking her to tell me its story for the millionth time. However it came about, I’ve liked ornamentation forever; pattern and symmetry are in my nature.

Kristen Kieffer Large plate Periwinkle floral Plate deco detail Periwinkle floral
Plate deco detail Frost : tangerine Kristen Kieffer Large plate Frost Victorian Moroccan

Why I choose a particular pattern and layer is no simpler to solve than why pattern at all. I can’t say I layer intuitively. I do pick and chose pattern on impulse, but it’s probably more about what I’ve learned in the 2D and 3D design classes I loved for my degrees than instinct. There’s not always an answer to why we’re drawn to certain colors, shapes, or decoration. I suppose I could just say I love ‘pretty’ and need loveliness in my life, know others do to, and these pieces are my response. But there is more to it.

I’ve been decorating my pots for years, but layering began in earnest when I changed how I glaze-fire my pots, switching from cone 10 soda to cone 7 oxidation in 2006. I could no longer rely on the kiln’s atmosphere to provide depth, so took control of adding levels of richness myself.

Patterns create depth, add visual and tactile interest, as well as invite pause. With forms like these new plates and pillow tiles, I layer in part to create an environment in which my customers can get lost for a moment (like the atmospheric paintings I love by Martin Johnson Heade). In a form like the yunomi cups, the extra layer of stamped pattern can spark reflection on a customer’s own history, culture, youth, or vacations abroad perhaps. What I bring to pattern and form as the maker can be quite different from what a viewer takes. What I see as Art Nouveau flora might remind someone else of their aunt’s cottage garden, for example. I like the personalization that can happen in the translation of decoration.

Kristen Kieffer Large plate Green flora Plate deco detail Green : tangerine
Plate deco detail Periwinkle arabesque 

All of the images in this post represent the recent addition of a new decoration layer; a new series with a ceramic technique called Mishima. Originating centuries ago in Korea, Mishima is a way of drawing on clay by inlaying color into a (usually) fine line. I’ve demo-ed this technique for years, including on my Surface Deco DVD, but this is the first time I’ve incorporated it into my own work. The delicate, navy blue line on all these pieces is Mishima. And for me, that drawn line adds another layer of contrast, another layer of atmosphere, another layer of intrigue.

As I mentioned in my last post, I think of the ceramic layers and assembling the disparate pattern shapes as being like collage. Each of the plates pictured for example (after I throw, trim, and alter) has four separate patterns and techniques layered onto the surface. First, I apply the subtle background texture, kind of the ground for everything else. I brush slip (liquid clay the consistency of heavy cream) across the surface, and press a patterned sponge I make into it, leaving a soft texture reminiscent of the textiles I look to for influence. (This technique is one of many I learned from mentor and friend, John Glick, master of layers extraordinaire.) I use cutout shapes of paper to resist some of the slip-sponging, so there are some smooth areas next to the pattern.

Once the slip-sponging has dried, I apply bright polka dots and stripes of underglaze into those smooth areas, which also requires the use of paper as a resist so the edges are crisp. These pops of color become focal points, and give a perfect contrast background for the next layer of slip-trailing. Once the underglaze has dried, I apply the raised lines, swirls, shapes, and dots of slip with a trailer (like small-scale cake decorating). I think of the slip-trail as the main character of the decoration story. Its imagery ties all the other patterns together.

Pillow tile detail Cornflower blue floral Pillow tile detail Green scroll w. tangerinePillow tile detail Pear Arabesque Pillow tile detail Periwinkle calligraphic

Pillow tiles detail. Full tiles pictured here.

Slip-trail is the last step for most of my pieces, but now I’ll be adding the technique of Mishima here and there, as with these. This requires first laying down a layer of liquid wax to protect all the prior layers. Once the wax has dried, I use an Exacto knife to incise into the leatherhard clay surface, and then fill that line with underglaze. I like the navy underglaze because it’s a dark classic color, and not severe like black. It’s not as quick and easy as drawing with a fine Sharpie, but it does result in a similar drawn line that I love. These lines feel like memories or echoes of the raised slip-trail lines.

All of these ceramic decoration techniques result in very different qualities of line (as I mention when I teach and on my Deco DVD). Each line yields a different shape and pattern, and when paired and layered, they become a formal investigation of 2D decoration on a three-dimensional form. Or they tell a story. Or they’re just pretty. I think all three, but am happy with what you see.

This new series of Mishima pieces is debuting exclusively in my online Etsy shop. I did a countdown to New Year’s listing a pillow tile a day in my shop with updates on my FB page, so those are available now. The plates and yunomi cups will be listed daily throughout this week in the same fashion, so check the top of my shop here. And stay tuned!