Graphic Clay & Electric Kiln Ceramics

Graphic Clay - Ceramic Surfaces & Printed Image Transfer Techniques by Jason Bige Burnett. Kristen Kieffer image p.59  Electric Kiln Ceramics - A Guide to Clays, Glazes, and Electric Kilns, Fourth Edition by Richard Zakin and Frederick Bartolovic. Kristen Kieffer images pp. 70, 72 and 76

I’m delighted to have work in two new books, hot off the presses!

Fellow potter Jason Burnett wrote Graphic Clay: Ceramic Surfaces & Printed Image Transfer Techniques. And professor and maker Frederick Bartolovic completely rewrote, revised, expanded, and updated Richard Zakin’s Electric Kiln Ceramics: A Guide to Clays, Glazes, and Electric Kilns for a Fourth Edition. Thanks for requesting my work, gentlemen!

Kristen Kieffer Stamped cup grouping
Kristen Kieffer Grouping, Cup to Corset

Kristen Kieffer yunomi






PS: You can check out other books and publications that include my work on my Press page.

‘Valenspringtine’ In Progress

Kristen Kieffer yunomi (in progress) w. flowers, Colorized series  Kristen Kieffer Deluxe clover cup (in progress), Arabesque modern seriesKristen Kieffer Deluxe clover cup (in progress) w. stripes and polka dots  Kristen Kieffer yunomi (in progress) w. Honey bees, Pollinator series

Pictured are my in-progress, Deluxe clover cups and Yunomi
at the leatherhard stage with completed decoration.

December tends to be a quieter time in my studio, a month I try to use for play and development in the midst of ongoing deadlines. For the last six weeks, I’ve focused on color, specifically more.

Around 2012, I began to add hand-brushed color in my stamp patterns, from bits to a bit more. Since this past spring, I’ve been hand-brushing several colors into one or two whole stamps (an image stamp vs. an abstract pattern) creating what I refer to as my Colorized Series. For me, the dazzling color from one completely colored image creates a focal point. The surrounding, uncolored stamps feel wistful and softer, like memories. Hand-coloring every stamp would be prohibitively time-consuming, but more importantly, full color on every image would feel commercial. I want to entice the cup’s owner to turn it ’round in the hand to find, appreciate, and ponder each honey bee (above), for example, colored and uncolored.

The delightful reception to my new Colorized cups encouraged me to delve deeper into cherry reds and cupcake pinks during my December play month. I’m a huge lover of color, but the technical logistics of color in ceramics, in addition to my general glacial aesthetic growth (in no small part because I allow myself to be a precise maker) slowed my figuring of how exactly to bring color to my pots. Suffice it to say, color is happening!

This particular color palette and my ongoing desire for it to be spring year-round (which does not happen here in Massachusetts) lead me to spend my six weeks of play on Valentine-inspired cups, a new series with colorful shapes I’m calling Arabesque Mod (a nod to my love of Islamic art, juiced with contemporary color and mod flair), new flower stamps, and as many polka dots and stripes as I could fit on a cup (above).

The ‘Valentine/Spring in Feb’ or ‘Valenspringtine’ cups, tumblers, and few tableware pieces will be listed in my online shop on Friday, January 30th at noon EST.

Workshops 2015

Kristen Kieffer pitcher demoWorkshops for 2015 are coming up quick. Seems early to think of next year, but we should always plan for play! Below is what I currently have booked to teach this year.

First up very soon is a three-day hands-on at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester, NY on January 17th – 19th with details here.

Also early in the year, on February 21st and 22nd, is a two-day demo workshop at Jeffcoat Pottery Studio in Calabash, NC, which is between Wilmington, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC near the coast. Click here for all the juicy details.

In June, I’ll be back in New York for a two-day hands-on workshop at the View Art Center in Old Forge, NY on June 27th and 28th.

Arrowmont ceramics studioLastly is my third five-day hands-on back at the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN for July 19th – 24th. You can register here, where you can check out my new spin on what I’m offering, also below:

Altered, Ornamented, & Drawn: No Fear! Our workshop will focus on conquering anxiety and embracing play in our sketchbooks and on our pots. We will be altering wheel-thrown or hand-built forms, and then embellishing them with an array of decoration techniques, from stamping and slip-trailing to sponging and resists. In between, we will investigate ways of drawing and collaging in our sketchbooks that are both fun and help fine tune influences and ideas. Demonstrations include throwing, altering and building off the wheel, darting, and a variety of deco techniques including stamp-making. You will leave the workshop with a collection of new skills, a better understanding of timing in clay, and confidence!

All my workshops and most techniques are equally suitable for both throwers and hand-builders with basic skills required.

If I’m not coming where you’d like me to be, please do pass along the Workshops page of my website to your favorite venue as that’s frequently how they come about. As always on that page, you can see the full list of where I’ve taught in the past, more info on what’s offered, as well as new venues as they’re booked. Hope to see you!

PS: If you just can’t make a workshop, I do have a DVD on Surface deco available right here.

Galloway, Kline, & Kieffer on Tales of a Red Clay Rambler

Julia Galloway, Michael Kline, and Kristen Kieffer on Ben Carter's Tales of a Red Clay Rambler
pFellow potter Ben Carter has a wonderful podcast, Tales of the Red Clay Rambler featuring studio potters and “culture makers” from around the world, that I love and listen to regularly. This past February, while we were all together for the Florida Heat Surface workshop symposium, he invited studio potters Julia Galloway, Michael Kline, and me to sit down and discuss for the podcast some of the individual and group conversations we had been having about pottery trends, design, copying, imagery, and how social media impacts all of those as well as our studio lives.

I admit it’s hard to talk with a microphone so close to your mouth you could lick it and knowing your words are being recorded to be replayed by hundreds, but it was neat to listen back because that was such a fun week together.  This conversation could have gone on for hours, there’s so much more to say and add.  Thank you to Ben for being such a great host with tough questions, and Michael and Julia for the fast-paced and smart exchange.

Have a listen right here to episode #61, and enjoy!

Florida Heat Surface 2014 Pictorial

The Florida Heat Surface 2014 presenters (left to right) outside St. Pete Clay: Michael Kline, Kristen Kieffer (me), Julia Galloway, Forrest Lesch-Middleton, Ben Carter, Chandra DeBuse, Adam Field, and Lisa Orr.

This past week I had the good fortune to co-present with seven outstanding potters for St. Petersburg Clay Company‘s first Florida Heat Surface Workshop, and had such a wonderful time, I wanted to share some pix of the five days.

Florida Heat Surface Workshop 2014

Roll your cursor over each image for the brief caption, or click to enlarge. Most of these images I took on my Instagram, and there are plenty more pix folks shared with the hashtag #flheatsurface on their Instagram, which you can also see compiled here.

Chandra DeBuse demo  Forrest Middleton demo    Adam Field demo    Chandra DeBuse and Kristen Kieffer demo    

Big, huge thank yous to the hosts with the most, St. Pete Clay crew Matt Schiemann, Adam Yungbluth, Valerie Scott Knaust, and Artists-in-Residence Bryce Dyer, Sarah Holt, Jess Carter, Jeremy Wallace, Lydia Johnson, and Holly Siggelow; my rockin’ fellow presenters; all the lovely participants; and Ben Carter and Adam Field for the invite!

Workshops 2014

Florida Heat St. Petersburg Clay Symposium ad
Time to start thinking about warm and fun! I have a variety of workshops coming up quick, so wanted to share with you.

First up, February 19 -23 is the Florida Heat Surface Design Symposium, which is a five-day extravaganza of awesome with Ben Carter, Chandra DeBuse, Adam Field, Julia Galloway, Michael Kline, Forrest Middleton, Lisa Orr, and me at St. Petersburg Clay Company. Details including the daily schedule are right here.

Archie Bray Foundation 2014 Workshop adI just heard there’s one slot left for my three-day hands-on workshop at the Archie Bray Foundation Memorial weekend, May 23 -25. If you’d like to be in Helena, MT this spring, click here for more info.

I just booked a three-day demo workshop to present alongside Adam Field and Matt Long at the Mary Anderson Center for the Arts in Mount Saint Francis, IN (just over the bridge from Louisville), June 12 – 14. Info should be available soon here.

And lastly (for now), I’ll be back for a five-day hands-on workshop at Sugar Maples Center for the Arts in the Catskills, NY, July 24 -28. Check out that registration info here.

If I’m not coming where you’d like to be, please do pass along my website as that’s frequently how they come about. As always, you can see the full list of where I’ve taught in the past, and more info on my Workshops Page. And you can see the full list of my teaching and exhibitions with links for more information as they’re scheduled on my Schedule PageHope to see you!

Homage Skulls

Kristen Kieffer guy skull cupKristen Kieffer gal skull cup in Frost

In July, I finally read Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty after buying the catalogue from his extraordinary, haunting, gorgeous, and (very unfortunately) posthumous exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the summer of 2011, which I was lucky enough to see in person.

Somehow, I can’t remember where I first saw a piece by this amazing fashion designer and couturier, but I do know I immediately fell in love with his imaginings.  His work readily embodies Victorian modern style and “ornamented strength” for me (phrases I use and aspire to in my own work). So, I decided to create an homage stamp to pay respect to Lee McQueen in the form of a skull, a long-time motif associated with his work.

I drew a skull, but it felt too stark. So me being me, I was compelled to add ornamentation and then a bit of a smile, both of which kind of automatically yielded a Day of the Dead sugar skull. I was so excited with the ‘guy skull’ stamp (pictured top), that I made a ‘gal skull’ too (pictured bottom), delighted to embrace the sugar skull tradition, which is fittingly about honoring the deceased.

The skull-stamped mugs recently debuted at my studio sale and online shop here. If skulls strike your fancy (Día de Muertos, Halloween, McQueen, or otherwise), I will be adding more of these spirited cups in very limited quantities (guys, gals, and combo) in other colors in early December.

“You’ve got to know the rules to break them.
That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but
to keep the tradition.” ~ Lee Alexander McQueen, 1969-2010

Needlework as Influence

Kristen Kieffer Flower bricks Embroidery patterns in Periwinkle and Green

Fashion (from all eras, Elizabethan to Couture) has been a long-time influence for my work. The structure and detail of clothing inspire my own functional pottery forms and their decoration. Basically, there is always something new for me to uncover from clothing and textiles as influence. My most recent revelation is the expansive genre of needlework, which includes everything from crochet and embroidery to a myriad of techniques I’ve only begun to learn.

Kristen Kieffer Deluxe clover cup in GrapeI own pillow cases tatted by my Grandma and Great Grandma, love quilts of all kinds, and knew that some of the 18th century clothes I adore had embroidery, but I’ve only just recently tuned into the wide-ranging variety of needlework design as influence, particularly for slip-trailing. I’ve been collecting needlework pix and details here with some faves below. New adventures into deco have begun!

Flower bricks and cups as pictured above, as well as other pots with deco influenced by embroidery and quilt appliqué are available in my online Etsy shop.

Detail of Look 8, Erdem Spring 2013 Ready-to-Wear  Crochet flora  Embroidery flowers Sashiko embroidery  Aemilia ars needlelace  [Micro] quiltingCourt Suit embroidery detail, c. 1770-85  Antique Carolina lily applique quilt detail c. 1880  Reticella samples

Rollover or click on the images above for details. Pictured: Crochet, embroidery, sashiko, aemilia ars lacework, quilting, applique, and reticella.

AKAR 2013 Yunomi Invitational

Kristen Kieffer Yunomi AKAR 2013

These are my five, springtime yunomi for AKAR Design‘s Annual Yunomi Invitational, an online only exhibition. This year, 206 potters were invited to send five cups each, so this show will have over 1000 yunomi (a Japanese cup with no handle that is taller than wide with a trimmed foot, and used for daily, informal tea drinking) in a wide range of styles. Each of my yunomi are wheel-thrown, stamped, trimmed, slip-sponged, underglaze detailed, and slip-trailed, yielding an elegant, tactile, and spring-y cup for joyful use.

This is an excellent show and the cups sell fast, so create your account, and be ready ONLINE at 10 AM CST Friday, April 19th right here!

Lovely Intangibles: A Statement

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:

Kristen Kieffer Cups 'Clover deluxe'

“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.