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.”

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

500 Teapots Volume 2

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!

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.

The Best of 500 Ceramics

 

I’m delighted to have two pieces included in this outstanding compendium of contemporary ceramics culled from the last ten years of Lark Book’s 500 Series. The curators for The Best of 500 Ceramics were asked to select a specific number of works from all the previous 500 Series books and write a very limited amount of text about a half dozen of them. Lark then selected from among that offering of images and comments. It was a fun surprise to read Linda Ganstrom’s great observations below when my complimentary copy of the book arrived, and a great honor to have two pieces chosen for this volume. Thank you, Curators!  

About the book: “This definitive collection features a decade’s worth of memorable ceramic pieces selected from the prestigious and bestselling 500 series. Juried by a roster of acclaimed artists, including such talents as Cynthia Consentino, Beth Cavener Stichter, Richard Notkin, and Sergei Isupov, each piece captures the power of ceramics at the start of a new century. Ceramicists and art enthusiasts alike will treasure the wealth of knowledge offered in this lavishly illustrated keepsake volume as the experts describe what makes a particular vase, teapot, sculpture, or bowl stand out. “

Big Honors! CM & NCECA

I’m thrilled to share that my work was chosen for Ceramics Monthly‘s September 2012 cover! CM is the most popular clay magazine in the biz with a total market reach of over 140,000. It is a huge honor that is in conjunction with a thoughtful, four-page article titled “Kristen Kieffer: The Impact of Daily Elegance” written by Kansas State University graduate student Lauren Karle. Big, huge thank yous to Lauren for contacting me, the lovely writing, and hard work through the process. Thank you, Lauren and CM!

The second big honor announcement is that I will be one of four demonstrators at NCECA‘s (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) conference for 2013 in Houston, TX, March 20 – 23! What a thrill to be asked to demonstrate at the largest annual gathering of clay folk in the world, where upwards of 4,000 makers, teachers, and collectors meet to see great work, listen to provocative lectures and panels, and watch awesome demos. If you’re heading to Houston, come see me on stage Thursday morn, 9-noon and Friday afternoon, 1-4, and give me a cheer of support! Thank you, NCECA!

Catalog Stylin’


I’m delighted to share that one of my small stamped bowls (in Garnet) was chosen by a stylist for a photo shoot in Room and Board‘s 2012 catalog. It’s wonderful that companies like Room & Board and West Elm are using handmade objects in their styled environments, helping to illustrate that the arts and craft are important to making a home homey! My bowl is a small addition to the setting (though still distinctive I think), but it’s also in proximity to a KleinReid bud vase, so the honor of being included in the catalog is double for me. Thank you to the gallery folks at Northern Clay Center for both the news and connection.