Now & Soon

Kristen Kieffer plate in Pear w. lime polka dots  Kristen Kieffer Pierced fruit basketKristen Kieffer stamped cup in Rosa w. sky blue detail  Kristen Kieffer small covered jar in Cornflower blue

Just a lil’ note that there are many lovelies (including all those pictured here) currently available in my online shop, and I will be adding only cups for December ~ a bountiful variety of stamped ones, yunomi, and tumblers just in time for the holidays! Stay tuned on my Facebook and Instagram for some posts about available new work, and better yet, ‘favorite’ my shop to see new pots at the top of your Etsy home feed. Thank you as always for supporting and gifting handmade & elegant from my studio!

Kristen Kieffer wall pillow tile  Kristen Kieffer yunomi w. Fruit bowl in PeriwinkleKristen Kieffer cake stand in Frost w. polka dots  Kristen Kieffer flower brick in Violet w. navyKristen Kieffer clover cup in Garnet  Kristen Kieffer stamped cup in Honeycomb

Breakfast Special

Kristen Kieffer Breakfast settings for two and serving

My toast rack, egg cups & caddy, butter dish, and place settings for two
for
Breakfast styled by me at our dining room table.

I received the invitation to participate in a show titled Breakfast (online and in Philly at The Clay Studio 11/7 – 1/4) in April from fellow potter Bryan Hopkins. Each potter was to make their interpretation of a toast rack, egg cups, butter dish or jam jar, plus two plates and cups. I immediately set to work on drawings, particularly of toast racks, knowing I wanted to use wire instead of clay for the dividers. (Indeed, I spent a three-hour flight to a workshop drawing toast racks!)

Kristen Kieffer sketchbook, toast rack drawings

My sketchbook drawings of toast rack ideas.

Kristen Kieffer Toast Rack II

Toast rack in Aqua, Drape-molded (from my design) and altered porcelain with carved,
slip-sponge, underglaze, slip-trail, and Mishima deco, cone 7 oxidation
with multiple glazes, and steel wire.

For the month of May, I was a Visiting Artist at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT, and spent a chunk of my studio time developing the serving prototypes for this show, as well as making my egg cups and caddies, which I glaze-fired and completed at my home studio.

Kristen Kieffer Egg cups and Caddy

Egg cups & Caddy in Frost, Wheel-thrown, altered and built porcelain with carved, slip-sponge, underglaze, and slip-trail deco, cone 7 oxidation with multiple glazes, and steel wire.

Kristen Kieffer Butter Dish, Periwinkle

Butter dish in Periwinkle, Hand-built porcelain with slip-sponge, underglaze, slip-trail,
and Mishima deco, cone 7 oxidation with multiple glazes.

I don’t often make sets, but do enjoy playing with what defines one. With the pieces for this show, I didn’t want all one glaze color (I used a color family of five), nor identical elements that “match.” Every piece has sky blue underglaze (the stripes and dots of ceramic color I brush on before the first firing because I want it to be layered under my slip-trailing); my swirled slip-sponge pattern (the subtle background texture); and my slip-trail dots and ‘leaf swirl’ pattern. While I played with variations of stripes and polka dots on each piece, as well as how I laid out my leaf swirl, they all share the same style and attention to detail that makes them feel related as a whole, yet able to be mixed and matched or stand strongly alone. (The Yellow Pear cup would just as easily pair with the Spring green plate, for example.)

Kristen Kieffer Breakfast setting yellow pear

Deluxe clover cup & Plate (medium) in Yellow Pear, Wheel-thrown and altered porcelain
with slip-sponge, underglaze, and slip-trail deco, cone 7 oxidation.

Kristen Kieffer Breakfast setting green

Deluxe clover cup & Plate (medium) in Spring Green, Wheel-thrown and altered porcelain
with slip-sponge, underglaze, and slip-trail deco, cone 7 oxidation.

Breakfast opens online and in Philly at The Clay Studio on Friday, November 7 and continues through January 4, 2015, and includes sets by Blair Clemo, Lindsay Oesteritter, Lisa Orr, Meredith Host, Roberto Lugo, Emily Schroeder Willis, and Bryan Hopkins as well as myself.

This was a quite a challenge for me with months of planning and testing yielding one-of-a-kind results. I’m delighted with the final pieces and hope you’ll check the show, in-person if you can, and online for all. Thank you for ‘egging’ me on, Bryan!

Kristen Kieffer Breakfast set (above)

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!

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.

Garden Influence & Flora Faves

Details of my pots above: Deluxe clover cup, Small covered jar, Large plate,
Flower brick, Screen vase pair, & Wall pillow tile.

More flowers have been popping up on my work in the last couple of years. And why not? I love them! In the dead of a Massachusetts winter, I long for spring and summer, and daydream about those floriferous seasons by placing a little bit of them on my pots.

Penstemon & Eupatorium  Knautia  Geranium & sedumLady's Mantle, Alchemilla  Allium bulgaricum  Heuchera and dicentra

First row: Penstemon & Eupatorium, Knautia, and Sedum & Geranium.
Second row: Alchemilla, Allium bulgaricum, and Heuchera.

I am completely preoccupied with being outside during this time of year, specifically, with being in or sitting beside my flower garden. I wrote about my lovely distraction four years ago in this Perennial Influence post, which still perfectly articulates every sentiment I have for gardening, so I hope you’ll give it a read. A recent pic I posted to my Ceramics Page of my main perennial bed and the corresponding number of thumbs up seems to indicate a universal need and appreciation for beauty and diversion, so I thought I’d do an updated pictorial from garden.

Dicentra & Lamium  Sedum  NepetaSpirea & Knautia  Digitalis & Knautia  Heuchera, Hosta & Fern

First row: Dicentra & Lamium, Sedum, and Nepeta.
Second row: Spirea, Digitalis & Knautia, and Heuchera, Hosta & Fern.

I seem to think about my plantings very similarly to how I think about my pots: How do they look from farther away, as well as close up? What colors best compliment a grouping? What shapes and textures add to the whole? Which are heartbreakers not worth the effort, and which make me the most happy?

Salvia  Lupine  Dogwood, Heuchera, Geranium & HostaIlex  Hosta Patriot  Dicentra

First row: Salvia, Lupine, and Geranium, Heuchera, & Red-twig dogwood.
Second row: Ilex, Hosta (Patriot), and Dicentra.
All images courtesy of my gardens.

Happy Summer!
Below are detail pix of pottery and sculpture faves that have hugs & kisses of flora.

Michael Connelly  Matt Wedel  McKenzie SmithMakoto Kagoshima  Baraby Barford  Kurt Anderson  Michael Kline  Michael Sherrill  Steve Colby

First row: Michael Connelly, Matt Wedel, and McKenzie Smith.
Second row: Makoto Kagoshima, Baraby Barford, and Kurt Anderson
Third row: Michael Kline, Michael Sherrill, and Steve Colby.

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!