‘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.

Sherwin-Williams “Colorful Personalities” Q & A

Kieffer STIR Sherwin-Williams
Since I think about color kind of constantly for both my pots and our home, it was such a delight to receive an email from a lovely freelance writer who not only works with Sherwin-Williams online publications about paint and color for design professionals, but also owns a couple of my pots! Beth Rutledge contacted me in August for a STIR® feature called Colorful Personalities, a “Q & A with people who regularly use color in their vocation.” I appreciate the interest in connecting interior designers with makers through color, and thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, which you can read right here.

STIRSTIR® is the resource that explores the connection between color and cutting-edge design. It examines the many facets of color to help you bring a fresh perspective to your work. STIR® is a print magazine, email newsletter and interactive tablet app for design professionals.”

STIR: Who do you design for?
 I design for customers and collectors who appreciate how an elegant and well-crafted handmade object can enhance daily life.

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.

Glaze Palette 2012

Colors clockwise from top right: Spring Green, Aqua, Periwinkle, Yellow Pear, Frost, Garnet, Rosa, Grape, Cornflower Blue, and Honeycomb. After several adds and subtractions for 2012, these are the current, and lush, satin colors from my studio. Each satin has a corresponding glossy version for the interiors, for aesthetic contrast as well as function. (Pots that are mostly interior, like plates and some bowls, are glazed completely in gloss.) Every item in my online Pottery Shop is labeled with it’s color name so you can search by color to find your favorites.

I run extensive tests to develop new colors for my palette, and then mix large amounts of each glaze by hand for dipping and pouring. There is a Glaze Testing album on my Facebook page with more pix of the steps behind the results, and a bit more about my techniques and materials on my Process page. I enjoy adding new colors, even though the process to get there is laborious. The end results are very satisfying…and ColorFULl! 

My Talented Hubby

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of my own bowl and breakfast the other morning: cantaloupe and matching stripes. I made the bowl, but it’s actually my husband’s bowl. I’m the unusual studio potter who doesn’t have a lot of my own pots in our all-handmade-pots kitchen. There are only two actually, this bowl and a white and red striped plate that’s a ‘third’ (not even a ‘second’), which I love to use. For the most part, I live with my work all day, most everyday in my studio, so the last thing I want to see when I’m not working is my own work. I have this sense that I would spend my meals critiquing my pots (why many potters smartly use their pots in the first place) instead of relaxing. I spend eight or so hours a day evaluating my pots’ form and function, so am happy to unwind by using other people’s pots —like the Tyler Gulden plate above— during my ‘off’ hours. So, like I said, the bowl is mostly my hubby’s. He saw it in my studio and claimed it, for ice cream.

Ginger Jar by Trevor Toney
Mitered and carved curly maple, paint, and shellac.
6″ h x 4 1/2″ w & d

He and I met ten years ago at the Worcester Center for Crafts where as an Artist-In-Residence I gave a slide lecture (with actual slides) and he attended as a student in the furniture/woodworking program. We began talking because he liked my work and we have similar influences. Of course, we’ve been together ever since, and while he is now a full-time preparator/exhibitions carpenter at the Worcester Art Museum and only able to make work part-time, we continue to share ideas and have informal critiques of each others’ work.

Last October was our five-year wedding anniversary, the Wood Anniversary if you follow such things, and though we would normally pay this no mind, he’s a woodworker and I’m married to a woodworker, so for love and fun, it just couldn’t be ignored. The Ginger Jar above was his gift to me. (He received a walnut-inlayed watch I scored on Ebay.) He’s a consummate maker, and I don’t feel the slightest bit biased in saying so. You will hear it here first when he opens his own Etsy shop, so stay tuned for fabulous, slightly mod objects and furniture with historical influence from my talented, darling hubby Trevor Toney! Check out the couple shots below of his mitering and carving process for my jar. Clay has nothing on wood for complexity…and math.


By the way, the jar ‘works’ beautifully. It’s personalized function is a bedside holder for my earplugs. (I’m a super light sleeper.) I like how the opened lid, which reveals the sublime tangerine orange that continues inside, with earplugs in place and shadowed flange look incidentally like a smile.

New (& Green) for Spring


I heard the call for green, and after much testing, have responded with this new, light, mint-y, spring-y green, my fourth new color for 2012. I’ve also been working on new forms (batter bowls and teapots with saucers, both with stripe-y underbellied handles inspired by this teapot), and playing with familiar forms, per my usual tinkering (clover cups, bowls, vases, and flower bricks). These lovelies and many more have been, or soon will be, added to my Etsy shop and Gallery store for spring shopping and gifting. I love spring, and I sure love color, so it’s fun to see my studio in bloom!