Architecture Influence Invite & NCECA

Burr House Porch Kristen Kieffer Burr House Flower brick II

I’m delighted to have work in a very unique show at this year’s NCECA, Houston conference curated by ceramic artist, professor, and color guru George Bowes. He invited 18 clay artists to participate, and paired each of us with a specific building in his city of Galveston, TX to use as inspiration for a completed work. The Dwelling on the Gulf: Ceramic Artists Respond to the Architecture of Galveston exhibition takes place at the Galveston Historical Foundation from March 9-28, 2013 and is on the bus tour for NCECA. You can read more about George’s thoughts on the show and see a couple more in progress pix by participating artists here.

Burr House roof line and porch Burr House as flower brick drawingsFlower bricks in process Kieffer Burr House Flower bricks

My assignment was the Lemuel and Julia Burr House (c. 1876), which has a “mixture of classic, gothic, and Italianate styles, and is attributed to Nicholas J. Clayton, Galveston’s leading 19th century architect.” Pictured above is ‘my’ house; drawings I worked up contemplating the house as a pot, its form and deco; leatherhard, in progress; and finished.

I opted to turn my house into a flower brick, an idea that relates to past work, but is much more intricate and based directly on the porch and styling of the Burr House. I incorporated light blue underglaze into the “porch openings” to reflect the sky as well as porch ceiling, navy mishima lines to echo the windows, slip-trailing to illustrate the surrounding trees and gardens, stripes for the roof line, beading for architectural detailing, and polka dots for fun. Invitationals for a specific form and/or influence are fun and challenging, and always push me to do shapes and details beyond my “usuals.”

Participating artists include: Peter Beasecker, William Brouillard, Joan Bruneau, Kristen Cliffel, Deirdre Daw, William Edwards, David Eichelberger, Carol Ann Fer, Julia Galloway, Bill Griffith, Suze Lindsay, Kari Radasch, Louise Rosenfield, Judith Salomon, Richard Shaw, Aaron Sober, Holly Walker, and myself.

Kieffer pots NCECA 2013 Kristen Kieffer place setting La Mesa 2013

For those who are attending NCECA in Houston, come cheer me on as one of four headlining demonstrators! In addition to the Dwelling exhibition, I also have work available at the Houston Convention Center Gallery EXPO with 18 Hands Gallery, opening Tues eve. And a place setting at Santa Fe Clay‘s La Mesa Exhibition at the Holiday Inn Express Downtown. Both are open during the conference, March 20-23.

For those who are unable to attend, no worries! I’m already stocking up my online Etsy shop with new work before I go here, and have upcoming workshops scheduled you can check out here. Hope to see you, and thanks so much for the support!

Studio Cycles Pictorial 2012

                  

I enjoyed putting together this second annual, end of the year group of images from my studio of in progress and new work. These are just a selection of images I posted throughout the year on my Facebook page. As with last year’s, it’s not an order, it’s a cycle. I just completed two glaze firings, so more to come —immediately!— for 2013 here and in my online stores. Keepin’ on, keepin’ on!

Thank you very much for your continued support of my work and studio.
A happy, healthy New Year to you and yours!

Retro Month, In Progress


This last month has been about allowing (maybe giving) myself time to play. YAY! It’s a rare thing for me because of deadlines and requests; my inherently deliberate pace (‘fast’ and ‘detailed’ are mutually exclusive it seems); and currently, perennials are calling to me like Sirens to abandon my studio and toil away my afternoons with them. I chose to play by re-visiting forms from the past, so it has been Retro Month for me here in the studio. Perhaps I felt a bit guilty for sidelining other responsibilities, or I’m just a masochist, but I apparently chose to re-visit some of the most complicated forms I’ve ever made. Go figure.

The first things I made were six Corset vessels (above). This is a form that is the most distinctive in my reperatoire I think, but is actually not a form I make often. In fact, I haven’t made the size pictured (+/- 9″ h) since 2005 when I was still firing cone 10 soda. For some reason when I moved to mid-range electric-firing in ’06, I scaled them up to 15-18″ and made only a couple every so often. So, it was fun to work on a smaller scale with patterns and polka dots I’ve developed in the last years. Indeed, a big part of the point of Retro Month was to bring my new palette (color and pattern) and accumulated experience to familiar, loved forms.


Next, I made Double-walled Baskets (only three; the one pictured above is my fave). I made these the latter part of graduate school at Ohio University over 10 years ago. I LOVE this form—pouffy walls, upholstered-looking surface, voluminous shape, elegant yet jovial attitude—but it is truly a technical nightmare, basically everything that clay doesn’t like or want to do, particularly in porcelain. While this image was the most “liked” pic I’ve ever posted on Facebook, and part of my style has always been to partially ignore the personality of clay, these lovelies may not be coming to an online shop of mine near you soon. They may have mostly served as a wistful reminder of why I stopped making them last time. We’ll see, but I’m not holding my breath as much as they appear to be.

Lastly, I made sets of Screen vases, which haven’t happened for a handful of years for no particular reason, not since my stripy/dotty phase began anyway. I love how these zig zag together in pairs and trios, pattern flowing from one to the other. These were supposed to be the less laborious end to my month…which made my hubby laugh (with love, of course).

Studio Cycles Pictorial 2011

I’m certainly in no rush for 2011 to end, though as the holidays approach and attentions (mine) get divided, now seems as good a time as any to post some of my studio and in-progress shots for the year. Ceramics is very much *make, fire, glaze, fire, repeat,* so these images aren’t in order, but rather the repetition is the order. Most all these pictures I’ve shared throughout 2011 on my Facebook Ceramics page (my favored place to post a quick pic, musing or update in between blog posts), but seeing them all in one place is a reminder of my productivity and progress over the last eleven months. 2012, I’m ready for more!

In Progress—Corset Vessels

Corset In Progress ICorset In Progress II
Left: Altered, darted and footed.  Right: Cut and defined lip/neckline.
Corset In Progress IIICorsets in progress IV
Left: All four in-progress.  Right: Handles and further definition.
Corsets In Progress VThe first two ladies complete with their slip-trailed deco.

I began this Corset series around six years ago (a story I’ll delve into at a different time) and though I don’t actually make them often, they have become somewhat of a signature form. This vessel idea began as corset-like, becoming more literal before morphing into something I think of now as more akin to upholstered furniture than vintage undergarment.

It was gratifying to spend the last week and a half (not at my computer) making some pots I just felt like making. The four are now complete and drying slowly in anticipation of joining other smaller pots yet to be made for a bisque firing.

The images above show some of the stages in the making process, minus the most dramatic image (because it didn’t occur to me till later to document it). These begin as straight-sided cylinders…subsequently altered, darted, built, added on, refined, defined, slip-trailed, slip-sponged and carved.

Sketching & Prototypes

As I wrote in the last post, when I am working out a new design I tend to draw, make and then draw again. How many I make, and how many times I draw, depends on how different the new design is from my “regular” repertoire of forms.

Pitcher_SketchbookPitchers_InProgress

The pitchers above are an example of a shorter development cycle.  I had been making creamers (as part of a creamer and sugar set) for years, but never really made pitchers, so last year did some drawings for a milk-sized pitcher.  I originally did some drawings of four different pitcher ideas (see Sketchbook & Pitcher post); made one of each of the four; decided I like the one above the best; and have since made several more with minor variations from the original.  Ideally I would make the time to re-draw or document the revised design in my sketchbook.  Realistically, and more often than not, I look at a finished piece on the shelf in my studio as a reminder of proportion and for cues to readjust details on the next series.  (How studio artists work in series could be a whole post in itself, note to me.)

Wire_vase_SketchKieffer_wire_vase

This wire vase form is an example of an idea that is going through a longer developmental cycle.  I made the drawings above as well as the finished prototype during a Watershed (a ceramic center in ME) artists-invite-artists residency last year (’08).  My definition of a studio pot prototype is the same as that for industrial design: “an original, full-scale, and usually working model of a new product or new version of an existing product”.   I needed to practice working with the wire, and to see how the wire interacted with the form, so completed this one form to understand the idea better in three-dimensions.  I still have a ways to go for the prototype to better match my ideas and drawings.  The role of “designer” is one of my many jobs to which I’m not able to devote a lot of time.  I will continue to pick away at this idea (using the wire to create an additional form or layer that corresponds with the clay, and allows the flower stems to be visible through the body).  However, it will definitely take time to evolve.  More drawing and play are in order!

Home as Sketch & Vase

I first made a small house form (little, 4″h maybe) almost four years ago when we bought our home. It currently sits in a windowsill near our front door, reminding me of its idea. Though this little guy was not a vase, vase forms in general have interested me for years because I like the idea of beauty holding beauty, and there are so many possibilities for shape, form and scale. Our house purchase and accompanying sense of Home, gave me the idea to pair my interest in flower display with the new feeling of place, and that first little house sculpture was the beginning.

House_forms_SketchIIIkristen_kieffer_house_vases

Three years later (!), when I was at Watershed in June of ’08, I worked out an idea for a slab-built house form as a vase for three flower stems. It was related to both the tile forms I’ve been making, but a free-standing version with openings, and the flower bricks. The drawings, above left, are from Watershed (with the addition of a collaged-on bungalow illustration I found and liked). This last year I made more (above right; a detail of this grouping is also my current website header), and have been drawing new ideas since: salt-box and cottage style vases, different “door” and “window” decoration, various “roof” shapes and size concepts in relation to different flower types.

I’ve written before about how important my sketchbook is to my development of new forms. The sketches are like bookmarks for ideas, like the little house in my windowsill. I have one place where I record my brainstorms (even if I draw on random pieces of paper, they ultimately get taped into my latest sketchbook), and so can easily flip back through a current or older sketchbook to re-work or tackle an idea.

House_Forms_SketchIHouse_Forms_SketchIIHouse_vases_In_Progress

Though not all ideas become pots, my tendency is to draw, then make the form and then draw again to reassess what I learned from the first round. There could be a 24-hour or 4 year gap between those stages, but that’s a typical progression. So the  drawings above are from the last six months after that first round.  I still haven’t made the “compound” house form (above right), but did complete the pictured  grouping of small (7″h) house forms yesterday that incorporate some of the different architectural styles I had been contemplating in the above image, left.

I will post these again after they have been glaze-fired, hopefully outfitted with some approriate posies.  This round of houses was thrown on the potter’s wheel instead of slab-built which gave them a natural fuller form (kind of marshmallowy).  I had to laugh when I finished the second or third.  I scaled these down by a couple of inches and also experimented with a square “footprint” in addition to rectangular.  The result for one in particular was a bit more outhouse than house, especially with the little window slit in the door.  I do laugh a lot in my studio, but this is a good example of the unexpectedness that can materialize from translating two to three-dimensions (though I do 3-D paper and/or clay “sketches” too), how improvisation and scale can impact an idea, and that fun is really important to my making.

Baskets In Progress & Upcoming

Kristen_Kieffer_Wire_BasketsKK_Wire_basket_I

This is just a quick blog post to show some recently finished (leatherhard) wire baskets, and let you know what’s coming up in my schedule. First, the Small Wire Flower Baskets. These little pieces (7-8″h) were thrown on the potter’s wheel, altered, stamped, built and finally, finished with slip-trailing and sponging accents and of course, the wire. I will post the finished (glaze-fired) pieces in a couple of weeks. I see these as small variations on the Wire Flower Brick I began making in 2005 (image in last post and some explanation of Kanthal wire on my Process page).  I imagine them to also be used for flowers; small, informal bouquets maybe from your garden.

And now, my schedule:
Kristen_Kieffer_JarsI posted a couple more pots to my Etsy store.  These will be the last adds for a few weeks.  I hope you will consider buying handmade for upcoming gifting needs.  (Dads like my pots too, hint, hint.)

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LillStreetThis week is the end of a short making cycle specifically for new work to send to both Red Star Studios and Northern Clay Center for a July show and gallery feature, respectively.  This week is also the opening of the 4 x 4: Twenty Women, 100 Pots show at Lill Street.  This should be an outstanding show with an amazing range of pots to behold.  Thank you to my fellow OU alum Lorna Meaden for the invitation!

For the month of July, I will be teaching a Monday afternoon class at Harvard University’s Ceramics Program.  The class is getting full, so if you have interest, sign up now, and I hope to see you.

Details for all of these events are on my Schedule page.

Lastly, just a reminder that you can still receive two postcards from me (details here), and a recommendation to become a FaceBook fan of Kieffer Ceramics.  Because I can post a quick sentence, the fans are the first to enjoy new images and updates.

In Progress—’Script’ Pear Jar

kk_ljarkk_ljarii

This is a large pear jar I finished last week that features some script letters as decoration ((two views, unfired). The letters are primarily flipped and reversed to fit and compliment the shape of the jar.  This is a new take on my interest in incorporating text/lettering into the surfaces: probably an appreciation of Islamic calligraphy too.

In Progress—Alphabet Blocks & Teapots

kk_alpha_blocks_greenkk_alpha_blocks_stackedkk_alpha_blocks_oh

The alphabet blocks are an idea that has been on my mental back-burner for awhile, but an invitation to be in The Clay Studio’s show, Small Favors IV, brought them to life this week. Unfinished (green), each is approximately a 3 1/2″ cube. I needed to do something fun, tangential and for me…and they were.  I would love to do the whole alphabet.  I have some plans for some, well, not for kids blocks too.  These exquisitely blend my recent favorite forays: text, animals and play.

kk_green_teapots

The fourth image is of two of the six teapots I completed this week for upcoming shows and a commission (each between 10-11″h, green –unglazed and unfired).