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.
My 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.
Thank you for supporting creativity and community
by buying and giving handmade this holiday season.
I’m thrilled to share the link to a video interview with studio potter John Glick reflecting on nearly fifty years of being a full-time artist and mentor, plus a fantastic segment on his glazing (a truly wonderful treat).
Anyone who has taken a workshop with me knows how important and influential my one-year residency (1996-97) with John was and continues to be in my own life as a studio potter. I credit John with teaching me everything from properly packing pots and caring for my back by standing to throw, to my use of particular decoration techniques and—most importantly—that play is a crucial part of studio practice.
Pictured stills from the Cultural Connection: John Glick video interview, produced by the City of Farmington Hills Video Division. Watch the video here.
It’s a humbling delight to hear John refer to my year in his studio (04:15 – 07:45), and think back with fondness about that time of exploration, which helped pave the way to my being a full-time artist now. He uses the word “echo,” which is perfect as his support, energy, and influence have indeed reverberated through my mind and work (and back!) for the last sixteen years. He played a big part in my sense of discovery and exploration, and I’m thankful.
Thank you, John & Susie!
I’m very happy to have a teapot in Lark Crafts’ new 500 Teapots Volume 2 book juried by studio potter and professor Jim Lawton. I have three teapots in the original 500 Teapots book, so it’s nice to be in the new and reflect on the evolution of my work (and teapots specifically) over the twelve intervening years.
I particularly like this passage excerpted from Jim’s introduction:
“The artists represented here are blending innovation and forward thinking with an awareness of what came before. They’re acknowledging a custom that’s deeply rooted in our consciousness even as they propose new forms and iterations for the teapot. Whether it’s used to bring people together or to celebrate solitude, the teapot occupies a special place in cultures all over the world.”
Lark’s 500 Series continues to be a wonderful resource for collectors, makers, and instructors alike. It’s just as fun to see how the teapots are organized in the book as it is to see them all. My Victorian Islamic, satin-glazed teapot is opposite a juicy, faceted one by Steven Roberts; each has as many similarities as differences. You’ll have to get the book yourself to see more examples of great teapot pairings!
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.
I 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.
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.
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.
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?
First row: Salvia, Lupine, and Geranium, Heuchera, & Red-twig dogwood.
Second row: Ilex, Hosta (Patriot), and Dicentra.
All images courtesy of my gardens.
Below are detail pix of pottery and sculpture faves that have hugs & kisses of flora.
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.
I will be a guest artist at this year’s Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail, a self-guided driving tour of clay studios in central-western Massachusetts (the northern I-91 corridor). This year there will be eight guests in addition to the nine potters who will welcome visitors to their studios. My pots and I will be guesting at Francine Ozereko’s studio in Pelham, MA.
9th Annual Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail
April 27 & 28, 2013
10 am – 5 pm
2013′s roster of potters includes: Hayne Bayless and Sam Taylor at Tom White’s studio; Lucy Fagella; Stephen Earp; Todd Wahlstrom at Mary Barringer’s studio; Dan Bellow at Molly Cantor’s studio; Mara Superior at Donna McGee’s studio; Kaleidoscope Pottery at James Guggina’s studio; Adero Willard at Tiffany Hilton’s studio; and me at Francine’s studio.
PS: My springtime sale at my home studio in Baldwinville, MA
is the following weekend, May 4th & 5th.
The 2013 Pottery Invitational Show & Sale at the Worcester Center for Crafts (where I teach adult classes) is April 5th – 7th, 2013. I’m so pleased to be a part of this great two and a half day exhibition and sale that was curated by fellow potters Hayne Bayless and Hannah Niswonger. The show comprises a fantastic group of twenty-one studio potters from New England who will be standing side-by-side with their work as well as demonstrating for the weekend (including me), making this an exceptional event! Visit the link to read all about events within the event, details, and times here.
Artists include Hayne Bayless, Dan Bellow, Molly Cantor, Autumn Cipala, Arthur Halvorsen, Robbie Heidinger, Jody Johnstone, Martina Lantin, Michael McCarthy, Hiroshi Nakayama, Hannah Niswonger, Kiara Matos, Tom O’Malley, Francine Ozereko, Rob Sieminski, Brian Taylor, Sam Taylor, Holly Walker, Tom White, Adero Willard, and myself. It’s a must attend event for my fellow New Englanders!
This is the article I wrote for the NCECA Journal, Volume 34 as one of the
demonstrating artists for the 2013 conference in Houston; my thoughts on
function and ornamentation:
“Look Doris, someday you’re going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile.” ~ John Payne as Fred Gailey in the 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street
I believe beauty is a worthwhile pursuit, and my pots are a celebration of that beauty. Stated simply, I make decorative pottery that is meant to be used. While working in my studio, I simultaneously consider the aspects of a well-functioning pot and the elegant decoration that enhances a strong form. These three components (function, ornamentation, and form) combined yield a beautifully designed object celebrating the beauty of everyday use. This “ornate utility” is probably an oxymoron to some, but it is my goal as a potter. I seek to make pots that balance good function with robust decoration, which is very different from making complex pieces for special occasions. The latter pursuit is more about elaboration than use. Making decorative pots for everyday requires equal consideration of function, form, and surface; an attention and tribute to what I call the “lovely intangibles.”
The lovely intangibles are what I think about when I’m working in my studio and reference when I teach; the elements that we can be more aware of when they are missing, ironically, than when they are included. They are the aesthetic and functional components that make up the whole of a considered pot, anything from the ribbed edge that delineates a curve to the shadowed reveal of a carved foot. They are the fine details necessary in creating an equally well-functioning yet elegant piece, but something that may not be definable (or even identifiable) to the user. These lovely imperceptible, elusive intangibles are crucial in the completion of a beautiful, useful object.
My active consideration of the details is required for the pots to be both appreciated and used when they leave my studio. The best compliment is when a customer is attracted to my work because of the form, picks up the piece because of the surface, and delights in the strength of the piece once it is in their hands; none of which may have been conscious thoughts. A customer’s split-second conclusion to like and/or buy a piece is in response to my attention to all the micro and macro intangibles, like purposefully making my pottery handles plump, walls strong, and lips full for comfort, for example. By altering and/or stamping the clay at an early stage I refer to as suede, the pots have a soft appearance which makes them more inviting. I use a variety of decoration techniques like slip-trailing and slip-sponging to provide tactility and visual depth. All of my work is glazed with mostly satin surfaces of rich colors adding to the user’s pleasure. The integration of tactile decoration with soft forms and solid components make the pieces touchable and inviting.
I refer to my work as ‘ornately, elegant for everyday’ and classify my pots as ‘Victorian modern.’ Both of these phrases fit my desire for cross-cultural influence, and an appreciation of an era when ornamental abundance was also useful. I want to offer my customers a bit of luxury for their home décor and daily life. My hope as a maker is to marry my diverse influences and the splendor of past eras with a modern desire for artistry and function. My influences range from 18th century, silver service pieces and Moroccan architecture to couture clothing and industrial design for form ideas, and from Art Nouveau illustrations and vintage embroidery to cake fondant and upholstery for pattern ideas. Such diversity combined with my own background and distinct studio processes culminate into a style that I hope is as unique as it is luxurious.
I enjoy my pursuit of beauty, making ornately functional pots for those who would like a little elegance in their everyday. Attention to those lovely intangibles so another can enjoy their morning coffee a little more is what makes being in my studio worthwhile.
I’m delighted to have four yunomi in the online Hearty Cuppa show with Studio KotoKoto, as well as share my excitement for this new and beautifully-executed online retailer (est. fall of 2012).
Studio KotoKoto offers distinctive, handmade objects by artists from Japan, the U.S., and around the world. In selecting these thoughtfully designed items, we bring you the stories of the artists, their aesthetics, and the materials they use. We promote talented artists who carry on the tradition of individual craftsmanship. ~ Kathryn Manzella and
Check out their lovely blog post about the show, which includes cups by potter faves Diana Fayt, Ayumi Horie, Birdie Boone, Peter Pincus, plus more cups from U.S. and Japanese makers. Make sure you “like” Studio KotoKoto on Facebook to stay tuned for details on this and future shows, and to see more romantic pix of handmade like the ones framing this post.
The cups I chose to send celebrate the coming of spring as well as Valentine’s Day. For me, spring is a signifier of growth, color, and budding romance, particularly for little animals like the pictured quail and bunnies frolicking in the flowers of my yunomi cups.
Hearty Cuppa celebrating Valentine’s Day with handmade. ♥
Pictured: cups by Birdie Boone, Ayumi Horie, Joseph Pintz, Sakai Mika, Diana Fayt, Peter Pincus, and myself. Photos courtesy of Ai Kanazawa at Studio KotoKoto.