DVD at Two & You

Valentine’s Day 2012 happens to mark the two-year anniversary of my DVD release! The ongoing appreciation the video has garnered by fellow makers and instructors from very near (fellow Bay Staters) to quite far (Australia) fills me with warm fuzzies. Thank you so much for all your support! Wanna find out what all the hoopla’s about? See the trailer, read past viewer comments, and get your copy of Surface Decoration: Suede to Leatherhard right here! XO

Happy (International) 1st Year!

Valentine’s Day happens to mark the one-year anniversary of my surface deco DVD release, and what a great year! Dozens of DVDs have sold to folks from as close to me as Worcester, MA and as far as Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa and Sweden! DVDs have gone to 47 of the 50 U.S. states and 8 of the 10 Canadian provinces. WOW! (So a special shout-out to the clay folks in North and South Dakota, P.E.I. and Newfoundland! Maybe it’s just too cold to deco? And, where ya at, Oklahoma?!)

Those of you who have seen the DVD and the “about” chapter know that this was a father-daughter project. This anniversary gives me another opportunity to give a big, huge thank you to my Dad. This project was his idea, and he was indeed the man behind the camera. The DVD could not have been done at all, let alone in such high quality, without his patience, superb directing eye, and tenacity in the editing process.  Thank you, Dad!

If you have yet to see the trailer for the video, have more questions, or would like to read comments by fans (like the wonderful ones by two very talented and well-respected ceramic artists below!), please visit my DVD page right here to see what it’s all about! Thank you to everyone for your amazing support and comments this last year!

“This DVD shows that Kristen is not only a talented potter, but also a gifted teacher. It is a great resource for both students and teachers alike. Kristen demonstrates a wide range of decorating techniques for soft to leather hard clay, in a friendly and articulate manner. If you have ever stood before a row of freshly made pots wondering how to enhance the surface, this DVD is a must. You come away feeling that the possibilities for surface decoration are endless”. ~ Sandi Pierantozzi, Studio Potter and Ceramics Instructor, Philadelphia, PA

“The video suggests that a workshop with Kristen would be informative and fun. Technically clear and focused, the video is well made: lighting and sound are professionally done and filming supports the demos to give a clear view of the processes being demonstrated. Tips are insightful and practical, and include aesthetic as well as technical advice. Kristen shows how she uses these methods in her work, and offers suggestions about how other people may find somewhat different uses of the tools and methods helpful for their own works. She generously and clearly shares the methods she’s developed over time in her own studio. Her discussion of line, design, and pattern concerns offer an understanding of her working thoughts and the potential for personal application by the viewer. Kristen’s video shows a variety of well-illustrated decoration techniques that make me want to get to my studio and try them as soon as possible.”  ~ Linda Arbuckle, Studio Potter and Professor, University of Florida

KK DVD in CM

Thank you to Ceramics Monthly for doing a synopsis (p. 62) for my Surface Decoration DVD in their November issue. And welcome to those of you who came to my website looking for more information after reading it! Everything you could possibly want to know about the DVD (including fan comments, techniques covered for pots to sculpture, a sneak peek trailer clip, and the link to buy!) is on my DVD page right HERE.

Thank you for your interest and support for this independently made, produced and distributed instructional video.

Deco DVD is Here!

It’s here, and ready if you are!

As some of you know, in late spring of ‘09 I spent about five days demonstrating in my studio for my first how-to/instructional DVD for ceramics (pottery and sculpture), Surface Decoration: Suede to Leatherhard.

I believe this to be a high quality video with fun and informative techniques.  Indeed many on my emailing list had the chance to purchase first, and have left some glowing comments (below).  I thank all of you for your patience, interest and strong support for this project.  And without further ado, the link to both see the trailer (if you have not seen it here yet) and to purchase my new video is here!  Enjoy!

Fan Comments:
Received my DVD. Patiently (not) waited for my family to go to bed and stayed up til 12:50 watching. It was like eating really exquisite chocolate, and I can do it over and over. Thank you so much. ~ L. W.

Thank you so much, there is no doubt I’ll use some of your shared techniques and advices in my works. Very particular, full and interesting information. Once again – thank you :) ~ L. B. in Lithuania

Got my DVD today and I must say its wonderful. Its like sitting next to you and having a private tutor. But being able to rewind to any part and relive it again. Great video. Worth every cent. ~ T. vD.

I just finished watching your DVD ~ LOVE IT!!! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise. It’s extra special that you did this project with your father :) ~ K. C.

Wow I received my DVD this afternoon!!!  I have watched it through and am so inspired to try all of the techniques out.  I am new to pottery and have admired your work on line for some time, have tried to make stamps, but was carving them in clay, not very successful.  I can’t tell you how thrilled I am.  Thank you sooooooo much for making this great dvd,  I look forward to the next one you make. ~ S. A.

About. This DVD includes 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. Eleven techniques are covered.  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.

P. S. 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 hope to see you at a workshop sometime in the future.  This DVD is just a taste!

Click here>>> Link to buy DVD <<< to purchase.

Signature Style

 

There are a handful of questions that I am asked at every workshop: “How do you know when to dart?”, “How do you make your feet?”, and “How do you get the stamping to line up?!”, for example. The answers to those are fairly straightforward: practice, carving, and practice.

I’m teasing with the one-word answers, but alongside those simpler, technical how-to questions are toughies like, “How did you find/get/develop your style?” I love deep questions in workshops, the ones that are about being an artist. Those conversations are a big part of why I enjoy teaching. Workshops are a great forum for learning techniques and discussing quandaries like personal style, not for picking up “style tricks.” There is no sincere short answer to the style question during a workshop or in this blog (though “practice” is part of the answer).

 

A few years ago, while attending NCECA, I attended a lecture* that essentially encouraged the current generation of makers to look not to the former generations’ work for ideas, but rather to their influences. He stated that the prior generation, the WWII-era makers, looked at things (nature, gesture, history, architecture) not other people’s pots.  He expressed wonderment at a potential future in ceramics with artists referencing only the preceding generation.  This observation was profound to me.

To oversimplify with an example, if I like Linda Sikora’s work, rather than imitating her forms and surfaces, I could begin to develop my own voice by researching what has influenced her work. By delving into the handfuls of objects, cultures, and periods that have defined her style, my own work could become unique rather than simply referential. Who I am as a person and maker will affect how I respond to the exact same historic European porcelain pitcher that inspired her. That’s not to say I can’t appreciate, admire, and buy her work, but I am more likely to find my own voice by looking at what is behind her pots rather than just looking at her pots.

 

So that is one of the anecdotes I tell in a workshop to begin to explain how one might develop a style. I honestly think if an artist sets out with style as the goal rather than as a byproduct of making what he enjoys based on what inspires him, he will fail. (Though I’m sure there are artists who receive recognition this way, I don’t think they are happy, respected artists.)

Style is the amazing culmination of everything an artist has experienced, loves and is, manifested in an object. I touch on the wide range of things that have shaped my own work (and style) throughout this blog, and also discuss them in my Bio and Statement.

 

The images in this post represent some of the details—based directly on my influences and interests—I feel make my work unique, my style signatures: slip-trailed shapes that look like rolled fondant; ornate stamping; two-part cup handles;  and Kanthal wire as form. Vessels like my Corset series, surfaces like my satin color palette, and even an actual signature, like my name stamp (below) are also part of that design “signature”.  The best compliment I receive about my work is, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”  What I bring to the pots is something no one else has: my touch, my eye, my mish-mash of interests and my passion. That’s style.

* I’m sorry to say I don’t remember the speaker for that 1998 Dallas/Ft. Worth NCECA slide lecture.  If someone knows, please drop me a note.

In Progress—Stamped cups

Just thrown cups Kiefferjust stamped cups Kiefferpulled handles Kiefferfinished cups KiefferGreenware bunny cup Kieffer

I have two more making days before I begin glazing for my Studio Sale the weekend of May 17 & 18th. Today I finished a bunch of stamped cups, the form I make the most. I have made over 80 in the last six months, and only have two in my studio, both of which will actually be shipped out next week. That doesn’t mean I have sold them all, but does mean many have and the rest are in galleries waiting to be.

These images (which I have posted on another blog before, but thought I’d do so again in this new space) illustrate some of the progression and stages of my cup making process: (1) twenty just thrown, (2) the same cups after stamping waiting to be trimmed, (3) the handle parts just pulled waiting to be applied, and (4 & 5) some finished cups prior to firing.

Making. It looks like more of a production process than it really is. It takes me a solid two days (often three) to throw, stamp, alter, trim, place handles and slip-trail twenty cups. I believe this is a little slower than some. It only takes a few minutes to throw a cup or pull a handle, but I spend quite a bit of time when all is said and done (including glazing) on each cup. Part of the reason is that my handles have two parts, thus some extra work. The rest of the additional time is in the detail…like slip-trailing the bunny tails on the cup above. Though they are stamped, there is still refining of the image at various stages to be done. I fell asleep one night figuring that I touch a single cup over forty times during all the processes of making and glazing. That doesn’t include the post-steps of wrapping to ship out or take to a show.

Stamping. I have over twenty different stamps at any given time. (I try to make new ones when I get a chance, and subtract others over time.) So when I have twenty cups to decorate, I may only use the same stamp once. On the twenty I will finish tomorrow, half will be stamped with a pattern and the other half will be stamped with an animal (bunny, bird, etc.). And since I use nine different glazes, each one will be unique between the color and decoration. I’m not claiming that over the course of a year or so, there aren’t repeats of a stamp and color combo, but I do want to emphasize the one-of-a-kind nature of my work, even within a series. Everything is always changing, so it keeps things interesting for me (and you).

Outside of my “spec” work for shows, I do take commissions for more specific combinations. Last year I had one client desire four cups with four different stamps in the same color. And another want four different colored bunny cups.

Handles. I began making them in two parts during graduate school (at Ohio University) because I thought my work needed an aesthetically different kind of handle, and I was —and continue to be— influenced by metal-working. Early this last summer, I lopped off the curlicue that had long been at the end of the smaller handle section. I needed a change. And that is how things change in my work…a little at a time.

Kieffer signature
All of my work is signed, “Kieffer”. The cups have an additional chop (signature stamp) at the bottom of the handle of a mirrored “K” for my initials. I have signed all my work since I began with either or both of these.