I’ve joined! You can connect with me on Instagram at KiefferCeramics where I’ll mostly be posting pix of new work, adds to my shop, and my studio, but as you can see above, doxie Hannah will be featured as well as our digs. Basically, images from my day, which is mostly our home, or my studio, which is in our home.
I like to think my cake stands aren’t just for cake. While I love cake (mmmm, cake), I like mentioning that cake stands work beautifully for general display in about every room in the home. Pictures do speak better than words, so I shot four of my display stands in four different vignettes in our own home to illustrate their wide-ranging function. Clockwise from top left: for jewelry and bobble boxes on the dresser, dressing table, or vanity in the bedroom; for toiletries and makeup in the bathroom; for a centerpiece, condiment catch-all on the dining table or kitchen; or for plants on a shelf or desk in the living room or office.
It’s fun to offer a stage for our treasured collections or highlight the things we love or use everyday. We think of using a cake stand for celebration, but why not celebrate the everyday? And when not being used daily in every other room, absolutely, put a cake on it!
Start your own celebration with a stand
available in my online shop right here.
Artist Janice Jakielski makes amazing (and tall) cakes for her stand!
My studio doubles (quadruples really) as many things when needed: making space, glazing area, gallery, as well as photo room. One of the questions I am asked frequently by fellow makers is do I shoot my own images. I do, and have from the beginning.
My Dad helped me get started photographing my work way back in 1991 with film. (Remember when we called it that and used that stuff?!) Along with my Dad, John Glick (who I assisted/residencied with from 1996-97, and who also shoots his own work, even when large format, 4 x 5 was a tricky medium), helped me understand the settings on the camera, lighting, etc. And it’s really through the same two decades of practicing how to make pots that I’ve had the simultaneous practice of shooting them.
Artwork almost doesn’t exist without images. (These days, maybe nothing exists without images.) Most folks see someone’s work via image (web, books, magazines), many times more than in person, if they ever see it in person at all. The image of the work can be paramount over the work itself, so good, current pix are a necessity. Once I’m ‘in it’, I like the photography part of my studio practice. As the maker, I have a unique idea of how my work should be shot and looks best (from angle to lighting to placement). While I’m making pots, I imagine how they’d be framed in an image and ponder groupings. Someday I would love to have my work professionally ‘styled in situ’ (and am not saying a pro couldn’t do even my simple, standard shots better), but for now, doing it myself also allows me to shoot frequently, so my images for publicity and the web are always current and new.
So, the top image is one I composed and shot for a potential new postcard to illustrate my favorite forms, varied styles, and color pairings. The image below is of me in my studio taken by my hubby for a needed ‘studio shot’ request by NCECA. (The table behind me is where I shot the grouping.) The other images below from my studio are my darling hubby acting as a stand-in for me with our new, shelter-adopted doxie, Hannah, while I try to frame up my shot, and Hannah (the reason I seem to be blogging less) posing with my CM cover when it first arrived. All glimpses from a week-in-the-life of my studio, which isn’t always a pottery-making studio.
interest. I’m on it, and either you are too, or I’m guessing you’ve never heard of it. Technically it is yet another ‘thing’ to do online, but it’s different (really!), and I’m completely addicted and want you to be too. Actually, it’s perfect if you’re someone like me who frequently bookmarks images into folders to your browser, which you can only see if each one is opened. So! Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board. A place for you to ‘pin’ what ‘interests’ you, thus ‘Pinterest.’ You have your own page where you can have as many pinboards as you’d like on which to pin images you find on the web, repin favorite images others have pinned, and upload your own new images in whatever way strikes your fancy.
I use Pinterest primarily to bookmark influences for inspiration, organize images for future blog posts and Power Point presentations, and minimally to dream about home renovation ideas and fashion purchases (which also inspire pots). Plus, I’m an image lover. Who doesn’t like pretty pictures of fabulous objects?
I’ve been ‘pinning,’ as they call it, for about six months and seem to have accumulated 20 separate pinboards of interests with over 900 images, including Form & Pattern, Color, Couture, Oldies but Goodies, Interiors & Objects, Props to Props, as well as three different ceramics boards (vintage/historical, studio, and industrial design).
So, you can learn more about Pinterest from the NY Times, request an invitation from Pinterest, and follow my pinboards. Below are some recent favorite pix, one each from most of my pinboards. Feel free to pin images from my website and online shops to your boards! Happy Pinning!
I’m going for both meanings of props in my title: “things used in creating or enhancing a desired effect” and “proper respect” (slang).
The idea of using props to spice up my pics, as well as to suggest my pots’ elegant use and beauty in your home is one I have both toyed with and ignored for years. As a former lover of the folded magazines Metropolitan Home and I.D., and current adorer of the hugely popular online design blogs Design*Sponge and Apartment Therapy, I am first in line for expecting (even salivating over) lush interiors with perfectly placed, unusual items in gorgeous environments. The idea of staging my own work, even in the simplest of ways, however, seemed impossibly time prohibitive.
Photography has changed a lot in the last few years, not only leaving the idea of a “photograph” in the dust, but also the simplicity of the single object on a grey background in the wake of staged objects in homey yet tailored settings. Retailers placing goods we want alluringly in environments we love is hardly new, but as we’ve all shifted to online reading and shopping, it’s what we expect, even for handmade.
The influence of Etsy’s marketplace, where I have an online shop and where beautifully styled images of equally beautiful objects is the norm, also made me take notice of staging. So, the time manager and photographer in me decided to let the designer and marketing director in me finally play for once. (As a lone studio potter, I wear all the hats around here.) It did take more time, but was also fun, and it allowed me to shop for props (felt pom pom flowers, soap cupcakes, and wooden flowers, all by fellow Etsy artists in this case), as well as use objects from around our home that are influences for my work like all my books. Even my own work became props for other pots.
It’s just a start, even if it’s baby steps; I’m pleased with the results. Someday when we’ve finished ongoing home renovations, I may do some in-room staging. For now, the time manager continues to breath down my neck (not to mention the potter who would like to get into the studio!). So simple staging is where it’s at for me: bits of playful added to the elegant, modern merriment to the Victorian.
Props to my pots!
First row, left to right: Mark Rothko painting No. 22, 1949, 1920s Chicago Transit Authority poster, and Bev Hisey Reflective Folk Cushion; Second 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 Set; Last 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Details from my work: Two Sparrows Flower Vessel (Corset series)
and a grouping of stamped bird cups.
These are new pots fresh from the kiln, as well as brand new forms in shape, design or decoration. I just unloaded these (more pics and details on the New: Form & Surface page) and many more from three kilns in the last week. There are more new pots and I will post once I take their pictures too.
As some of you know, in May I spent about five days demonstrating in my studio for my first how-to dvd: Surface Decoration, Suede to Leatherhard. I thought I’d let you know that I’ve seen the rough cut, and am pretty excited about it (especially after I got over the weirdness of watching myself). Videos have as many steps as ceramics, so for this big first foray, it’s not surprising to report we are a bit off schedule.
This dvd will include techniques I use and some I enjoy but don’t currently incorporate in my own work. All are “suede” to leatherhard decoration techniques mostly using slip, including stamp-making and stamping, slip-trailing, sponging, paper resist, water-etching, sgraffito, mishima, carving and sprigging. My goal is to show techniques with which you may not be familiar, offer a new take on the traditional and generally excite interest in the potential of the ceramic surface.
I strongly feel that in-person instruction is best, and a video by anyone is no substitution for classroom interaction, workshop question-and-answer or one-on-one discussion. I know not everyone is able to take a workshop or class, and I realize that many of those who are able to attend one of my workshops may like a video to review some learned techniques.
I will continue to keep you all posted!
I couldn’t think of a subject for a new post, so posed the question (to myself), “What have you been thinking about?” I’m in a making cycle, bisqued last weekend, glazed all week for upcoming deadlines and commissions leading up to another firing, and have some new, big ideas, but what I’m really thinking about is my garden.
First Row: Agastache, Allium, Allium bulgaricum, and Astilbe
Second: Baptisia, Barberry, Bugbane, and Dianthus
I love flowers and trees, learning new things and being outside, but when we bought our home almost four years ago, my thumbs all but turned green. My Great Grandma, Grandpa and Dad were each avid gardeners (veggies and flowers), and I enjoy the feeling that I am continuing a family tradition in some small way. Other than the gorgeous results and insects and birds the perennials attract, my favorite part is the escapism. All I think about when I garden is the activity itself and “Ooooo, pretty, pretty.”
First ro: Red-twig Dogwood, Echinacea, Blue Fescue and Fox glove
Second: Geranium, Hellebore, Heuchera bloom and Red-leaf Heuchera
I have discovered that I garden the same way I make pots: research and preparation balanced with a healthy dose of impatience and stubbornness. I wound up having little interest in planning, mostly choosing and placing plants together based on color, contrast and shape. As an artist, I seem to be drawn to unusual colors (loving deep purple and bronzed–leaf plants, for example, next to the chartreuse and limes), odd shapes (alliums and lupines) and rich textures. Gardening is the quintessential 3D design experience for me.
First row: Hostas, Pee-gee Hydrangea, Lupine flowers and Lupine leaves
Second: Japanese maple, Pentsemon, Sedum and Switchgrass
One of my goals with the garden—other than mental relaxation—was to attract butterflies and birds. I become giddy (yes, giddy) as new blooms bring big, clumsy bumblebees, darting ruby-throated hummingbirds, waves of monarchs, lazy tiger swallowtails and lone hummingbird moths (the insect I had never seen before having this garden). Because the garden is so close to the house, lining the entire front porch, I can stand at the door in the morning when I brush my teeth, or sit out there in the evening with a glass of wine in hand, surveying the scene.
All this happiness certainly feeds my studio time, and I’m definitely aware of wanting my slip-trailed shapes to be outlined like an astilbe leaf, a glaze the color of a penstemon leaf, a stamp the radiating shape of a lupine leaf with droplets of water, a vase shaped like the waterfalling grass…
All images courtesy of my garden.