New Wall Candy

Kristen Kieffer wall pillow tile trio

I wrote about these new pillow tiles for 2013 here, and am delighted to share some from round two, all of which are available exclusively in the Wall Art section of my online shop.

I love the idea of grouping these ‘ceramic, candy collages’ (as my color palette is specifically chosen for pieces to be mixed and matched, and like candy, it’s hard to choose just one!), but I also make these to stand alone as a lovely focal point and accent for the home.

They have become a favorite for me to make, and I make them for the same reason I make a cup or plate: to bring a little beauty to the everyday.  So whether on the wall or at the table, I believe we all need a daily dose of elegance.

Wall pillow tile Aqua  Wall pillow tile Yellow PearWall pillow tile Honeycomb  Wall pillow tile Spring green

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.

Studio Cycles Pictorial 2012

                  

I enjoyed putting together this second annual, end of the year group of images from my studio of in progress and new work. These are just a selection of images I posted throughout the year on my Facebook page. As with last year’s, it’s not an order, it’s a cycle. I just completed two glaze firings, so more to come —immediately!— for 2013 here and in my online stores. Keepin’ on, keepin’ on!

Thank you very much for your continued support of my work and studio.
A happy, healthy New Year to you and yours!

Travel Influences & Favorites, Pt. I

March – August 2010: PA, MA, NC, TN, & NYC

 
  

The images above are the very few I took during my minimal outings at NCECA in Philadelphia, and include some favorite pieces from a quick jaunt through the PMA (Philadelphia Museum of Art) and one great building somewhere in the city with curved leaded windows. (You can see more of my favs from the PMA here.)

         

The next group of pictures is from jaunts near my home. The first two are from a building in Amherst, MA. I love the tall, slender windows and contrast of brick and stone. The second is a detail of the stone and how they used brick dust in the mortar leaving the stones looking like they are outlined in hot pink.  The rest of the images are from two visits to Historic Deerfield in central Massachusetts not far from our home.  Since I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the historic homes, most of the pics (except the barn detail and canopy bed detail) are from pieces in the visible storage cases of their museum.  I see different things in each image, from ideas for form and detail to appreciation for handmade and craft like the last two images of the mended bowl and plate.

 
 

These last images are a favorite each of something I saw while teaching at the Penland School of Arts & Crafts (the garden bottle tree in Bakersville) and the Appalachian Center for Crafts (one of the many hand-painted signs on campus) this summer. And last but not at all least are two images of the Statue of Liberty I took when I did a lecture for the Brooklyn Potters Guild.

I’m getting better not only at remembering to take my camera with me, but actually remembering to take pictures as well, and hope to share more of what I see and figuratively bring home to my studio with you here.

Spring is in the House

    

Spring has finally sprung here in north central MA, and I hope for you too. Between the weather, little beginnings in my perennial beds and new vases and other colorful pots in my online store, I’m ready for flowers as well as your springtime shopping needs.  Thank you for thinking of my work and handmade for that upcoming wedding, graduation, birthday, or just-because-day (including Mother’s Day, May 9th) coming up in the next couple of months.

Mark your calendars for my Spring Studio Sale the weekend of May 22nd and 23rd, and visit my online Etsy shop here to buy pots.
Happy Springtime, Everyone!

www.KiefferCeramics.etsy.com

Ceramics I Love (Contemporary, Pt. II)

 Gertraud_Mohwald Magdalene_Odundo
 Viola_Frey  Gary_DiPasquale
  
 Alan_Caiger_Smith

From top left, First row: Bobby Silverman, Gertraud Möhwald, and Magdelene Odundo;  Second row: Hans Coper, Viola Frey, Sam Chung and Gary DiPasquale;  Third row: Andrea Gill, Jeanne Quinn, and Mary Barringer;  Last row: Jason Green and Alan Caiger-Smith.

Visit Part I here to see not only the first grouping but also what I mean by “love” (vs. influence).  I enjoy putting these love montages together and hope to do one every so often.  I welcome you to leave a list of your all-time favorite contemporary clay artists in the comment section.

Favorites & Influences from the PMA

After teaching my workshop last Thursday at a community college outside of Philadelphia, I spent a leisurely afternoon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Friday. It was my second visit, and I highly recommend it.  Larger images of the entire collection are posted at the PMA website (I could only snag the smaller to post here).  These are some of my favorite objects, many of which I sketched and noted in my little sketchbook for future reference and influence.

animals_in_diamond_delft chest_over_drawers compote
green_vase bird_on_a_trough candlestick_sevres coffeepot coffeepot_ri
cylinder_desk_and_bookcase document_box dressing_table_pa
footstool_american bird_tree giorgio_morandi_still_life_1946
interior_of_a_cafe jug_iznik lilac_blossoms
mj_heade pair_of_candelabra persian_tabouret
pillow_song side_chair_pa spice_box two_hares vase_on_brass_mount
vase_with_lid wardrobe
surtout_centerpiece sofa yuan_pillow

From top left, first row: Animals in Diamonds (Dutch/Delft tiles) c.1585 Netherlands; Chest over Drawers, Pennsylvania c.1792; Compote, c.1846 France for President Polk; Second row: Vase, Chicago Terra Cotta Works 19thc. Illinois; Bird at Trough, c.1850 Pennsylvania German; Candlestick, c.1761 Sèvres, France; Coffeepot, c. 1800 Pennsylvania German; Coffeepot, c.1899 Rhode Island; Third row: Cylinder Desk and Bookcase, c.1800 PA; Document Box (painted tin), c.1830 PA; Dressing Table, c.1715 PA;  Fourth row: Footstool, c. 1730 PA; Bird Tree, c.1810 Pennsylvania German; Still Life by Giorgio Morandi, 1946; Fifth row: Interior of a Café by Santiago Rusiñol, 1892; Jug, 17th c. Iznik, Turkey; Lilac Blossoms by Christiaen van Pol, c.1800; Sixth row: Orchids in a Jungle by Martin Johnson Heade, c.1870s; Pair of Candelabra designed by Louis-Constant Sévin, c.1862 France; Tabouret (Persian), early 13th c. Iran; Seventh row: Pillow, Song Dynasty (960-1127) China; Side Chair, c.1870 PA; Spice Box (Painted maple), c. 1870 PA; Two Hares in Moonlight by Cho Tai Eok, Chosòn Dynasty 18th c. Korea; Vase on Brass Mount (glass), c. 1910 U.S.; Eighth row:Vase with Lid, c. 1768 Sèvres, France; Wardrobe designed by Sir Ambrose Heal, c. 1910 England; Last row: Centerpiece (Surtout), Strasbourg faience factory, c.1729 France; Sofa (one of a pair) c.1725 England; Pillow, Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) China.

Household Influences, Part I

Some of the household details I see everyday in our home, which must seep into my subconscious and penetrate my ideas:

kk_tt_tansu kk_antique_mirror kk_blueandwhite kk_asian_plantstand1 kk_chair_upholstry kk_dish_from_gma kk_dutchtile_and_soap kk_french_table kk_gmas_bells kk_haeger_and_jgreentile kk_jewelrybox_collection kk_kilim kk_nouveau_poster kk_kitchen_blacksplash kk_leaded_glass kk_roadside_lamp kk_samurai kk_shamrocks kk_sidebyside1 kk_us_map1 kk_wool_rug

From top left: “Tabletop Tanzu” detail, walnut and butternut, by Trevor Toney (my husband); Antique mirror, beveled and etched, gift from friends; Blue and white plate (New Wharff Pottery, England) from my Grandma Idene; Second row: Asian plant stand, Brimfield flea market, MA; Upholstery from old armchair, Tiffin, OH antique store; Translucent china-painted dish given to my Grandma by her “8th grade teacher and basketball coach for graduation, 1939″; Third row: Dutch tile (antique store in Nelsonville, OH) and soap boxes; 19th c. French country walnut table, salvaged; Christmas bells from my Grandparents house; Fourth row: Haeger planters and Jason Green tile; Various jewelry boxes including antique black and white ovals (Findley, OH), a Shaker oval (Royal Oak, MI), pyrography box by a Great uncle and a Matt Metz; Kilim rug;  Fifth row: Art Nouveau poster (Tiffin, OH); Our presumably 50’s era kitchen backsplash; Leaded glass window from Detroit flea market;  Sixth row: Working lamp from Ann Arbor, MI electrican’s dumpster; Poster from the Worcester Art Museum’s “Art of the Samurai” exhibition, 2003; Shamrock plant bought in Ann Arbor; Seventh row: 1920s oak side-by-side detail from New Hampshire; United States map detail in my studio; and wool rug from MA antique shop.

Cake as Influence

Thiebaud cake A. Steeter cake Oldenburg floor cake Cake Girls
Couture cake Thiebaud wedding cake M. Braun cake Trend de la Creme blog image
Cupcake color Architecture as cake Julia Jacquette cake painting

From top left: Wayne Thiebaud’s painting Let Them Eat Cake; Painted Bird Cake, (a real cake) by Amanda Streeter; Floor Cake by Claes Oldenburg; and couture wedding cakes. Second row: another couture wedding cake; Wedding Cake by Wayne Thiebaud; a real wedding cake by Margaret Braun; a great blog entry from Trend de la Cremé pairing runway fashion with couture cakes; Third row: cupcakes by Dozen Cupcakes; architecture as cake; and Julia Jacquette’s painting White on White (Thirty-six sections of wedding cake, swans).

I started looking at wedding cakes eight years ago for decoration ideas. It seemed an obvious reference for me as slip-trailing (squeezing liquid clay through a bulb syringe) is the clay equivalent to cake-decorating.

I’m not sure when I first came across Wayne Thiebaud’s pastry paintings from the ’60s, but I love them. If I could paint, that is the style and possibly content I would choose. I enjoy his fantastical and exaggerated use of color (hard shadows of electric pink) and style that reminds me of the vintage ads I like. The paint is thick, and somehow simultaneously gestural and precise. Some of my influences are abstract ideas, and that last sentence would be a good example of something I see [in a Thiebaud painting, for example] that I would like to emulate in my work —a feeling, a presence.

Kieffer tile trioI also just like the word, cake (the title of and text on the left tile, actually). I am drawn to the sound of certain words (Who doesn’t like to say rutabaga?), especially if they can have different meanings and contexts. I don’t know where I picked this up, but I sometimes use it as an expression to mean, “exceedingly lucky”. As in, “He is in a pretty cake situation since he married a millionaire,” for example.

I chose Claus Oldenburg’s Floor Cake to show because it fits today’s theme, and because I am drawn to his sculpture and drawing for making real, hard forms soft and humorous. Both elements I look to capture in my own work. Kieffer Soft Treasure box

It may or may not be obvious from the images I chose above (and from my last post below): many of my influences overlap. In these things, I see hard and soft lines, humor, form, context and content. A couture dress looks like a tiered cake which looks like a Victorian home, which could be a covered jar—or maybe that’s just me. As I’ve said before, we artists are the blenders of the disparate creating the unified.