Styling Play Pictorial

Kristen Kieffer Stamped cup detail  Kristen Kieffer cake stand top with cherriesKristen Kieffer Delft-inspired fruit bowl stamped cup  Kristen Kieffer Owl Yunomi in Frost

Some images of my pots recently posted on Instagram and Facebook to share and celebrate new work available in my online shop ~ some, exclusively! I delight in trying to convey the influence, habitat, and/or detail (the lovely little enticing bits) of my pots in one square frame. I consistently add new, one-of-a-kind pots to my shop almost weekly, so fresh work is always available for you to have or give. Connect with me on the social medias, but check my Etsy shop (‘favorite’ it too) regularly for what’s new, and thanks as always for your support.

Kristen Kieffer Pineapple and Fruit bowl stamped cups  Kristen Kieffer Pierced fruit basketKristen Kieffer Pierced fruit bowl  Kristen Kieffer Pierced fruit basket (square)Kristen Kieffer Skull mugs, Gal and Guy  Kristen Kieffer yunomi

Free to Be…Yunomi

Kristen Kieffer Yunomi w. teapot stamps in Cornflower blue w. Navy stripes and detail  Kristen Kieffer Yunomi Pineapple Nana in AquaKristen Kieffer Yunomi in Violet w. Sky blue stipes, Mishima, and floral  Kristen Kieffer Yunomi w. balloon stamps in Frost w. Tangerine polka dots and Mishima detail

I’m excited to share new work with you! I’m posting a couple new pots each day in my online Etsy shop for your collection (or present-purchasing if you can part with the pot!), like these four yunomi, which are the first of several lovelies already available. I’m sharing pix on my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds, though do visit my shop directly to see what’s new.

These yunomi continue to be one of my favorite forms to make. Despite the smaller size, I’m able to festoon each with layers of ornamentation and joyful imagery that enhance its use, a feast for the eyes and hand. There are a lot of new patterns and layers here, from hand-brushed yellow nana halves to Mishima rays of sun amidst the clouds dancing above the balloons. Each of these and the others to come are one-of-a-kind: thrown, decorated, and even photographed by me, just for you.

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!

Studio Cycles Pictorial 2013

      
   
      
          

It’s enjoyable to put together this annual, year end pictorial of images from my studio of in-progress and new work, as well as artist goings-on, and reflect back on both 2013’s newness and continuations. These are just a selection of images I posted throughout the year on my Facebook page and now Instagram too. As with last year’s, it’s not an order, it’s a cycle.

As always, thank you for your continued support of my work and studio.
A happy, healthy New Year to you and yours!

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!

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!

Studio KotoKoto ‘Hearty Cuppa’

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
Ai Kanazawa

Check out their lovely blog post about the show, which includes cups by potter faves Diana Fayt, Ayumi Horie, Birdie BoonePeter 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.

  Diana Fayt at Studio KotoKoto Peter Pincus at Studio KotoKotoKieffer yunomi at Studio KotoKoto Kristen Kieffer at Studio KotoKoto

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.

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!

Polka Dot Origin, Influence, & Faves

Dots on my pots!

  Corset series vessel w. dots    
  

My recent work with dots: Screen vase pair, yunomis, flower vessel (Corset series), pitcher, small covered jars, small stamped bowls, and plate.

I started layering dots (and stripes, which will be a future blog post with more influences and faves) in early 2010. The added pattern came through self-critique and seeing a need to both visually pop the raised slip-trail patterns by providing small background color, as well as add some modern fun to the Victorian flavor of my work.

So the primary purpose for the polka dots was to further my love of layered surfaces for the pots, formally creating even more richness and depth. The dots punctuate the patterns.

A close secondary function for the dots has been to add some joyfulness; polka dots are rarely somber. Though I do receive some comments by folks who favorably see ‘Disney,’ I think my pots can appear more serious than I actually am or intend. In some ways, I’m still the five-year-old tomboy who hated my freckles (my own personal polka dots), deciding one summer day that, with the aid of my grape-smelling marker, they would be much better purple. So, the dots are a way to include my influences of sweets, for example, as well as infuse connotations of informality and playfulness.

You can check out all the dotty pots in my online shop here.

Polka dot influences below with more here:

    
  
    
    

Norma Kamali dressTattoo round rug by Deanna Comellini  
  

.Pictured above from top right, first row: Peter Murdoch ‘Dot chair’ for kids; Dot window building in Beirut, Lebanon; and ‘Confetti’ tree skirt.  Second row: Draga Mathilde sofa; and Yayoi Kusama concept store for Louis Vuitton.  Third row: June Leaf organic canvas in Marine; Mod fashion;  and vintage dress.  Fourth row: White-grey ombre dot cake; paper straws; and slipper chair.  Fifth row: Norma Kamali dress; Tattoo round rug by Deanna Comellini; and ‘Op-art Attracts’ wedge by ModCloth.  Last row: Quilt in progress by Judy Martin and starfish.

The origin of the Polka Dot: It is believed that the name “polka dot” came from the Polish polka dance, and first appeared by name in 1854 in The Yale literary magazine. At the same time that the polka dance and music began in the mid 19th century, polka dots were popular and common on clothing. The pattern name was chosen simply because the dance gained such acclaim, which led to many contemporary products and fashions also taking the name. (There used to be “polka-hats” and “polka-jackets,” for example.) Most disappeared with the popularity of the actual polka dance in the late 1800s. Only the printed fabric pattern remained fashionable, and the name stuck.

Polka dot favorites of fellow studio potters and ceramic artists:

Andrew Martin  Brenda Quinn  Malene Helbak
Kari Radasch  Jun Kaneko polka dot sidewalk, Art Museum of South TX
Chiho Aono  Sandblasted process, Hans Tan Studio via Ateliér Keramiky  Ayumi Horie
Harrison McIntoshMeredith Host  Harumi NakashimaTetsuo Hirakawa  Betty Woodman  Sean O'Connell

Pictured above from top right, first row: Andrew Martin, Brenda Quinn, and Malene Helbak.  Second row: Kari Radasch and Jun Kaneko.  Third row: Chiho Aono, Hans Tan Studio, and Ayumi Horie.  Fourth row: Harrison McIntosh, Meredith Host, and Harumi Nakashima.  Last row: Tetsuo Hirakawa, Betty Woodman, and Sean O’Connell.

Cup Is The Word

When I was a kid, Grease was the word, but as a studio potter, Cup is definitely the word. It’s the form I make the most. It’s an object everyone uses. It’s useful, necessary, and ‘daily’ as well as personal, intimate, and homey. Tis the season for cups shows, and here’s some great venues where you can catch mine:

Chronologically,…
I have three yunomis in the Vessels for Tea invitational (10/8-28)
at the Durango Arts Center in Durango, CO.

Three handled cups in the Handle with Care invitational (11/2 – 12/8)
at Santa Fe Clay in Santa Fe, NM.

Three yunomis and two cocktail cups in the Source Material: An Exhibition on Water and the Ceramic Cup invitational (11/3 – 12/31) at Crimson Laurel Gallery in Bakersville, NC and online.

Five handled cups in the Cup: The Intimate Object VIII (11/3 – 12/1)
at Charlie Cummings Gallery online.

Six handled cups in The Cup Show (12/6 – 12/24)
at the Worcester Center for Crafts in Worcester, MA.

In addition to these exhibitions, ten of my handled cups are participating in an event on November 8th sponsored by The Clay Studio in which 500 handmade cups (10 by 50 potters) will be handed to unsuspecting citizens of Philadelphia in exchange for their coffee shop paper cups. This event, the Guerilla Mug Assault, was made possible through a Knight Foundation Arts Challenge grant, and allowed for all the participating potters to be paid for their contribution in support of such a great cause, to connect a potential new audience to the beauty of handmade pots.

I also donated twelve handled cups in support of the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts Cup of the Month fundraiser along with eleven other potters. I have attended two wonderful Artist-Invite-Artist residences at Watershed, so am pleased to be able to give back in some way…and twelve thoughtful supporters will receive twelve handmade mugs each month during 2013!

Lastly and as always, there are a bunch of special, gallery-quality cups (stamped, clover, cocktail, tumblers, and yunomis) in my online Etsy shop, and if you live even remotely near north, central Massachusetts, you can shop them in person at my upcoming Fall / Holiday Studio Sale November 3rd & 4th.