In the Details

One does a whole painting for one peach
and people think just the opposite —that particular peach is but a detail.

~ Pablo Picasso, (Spanish Artist and Painter, 1881-1973)


A man’s accomplishments in life are the cumulative effect of his attention to detail.
~ John Foster Dulles, (American US Republican Secretary of State (1953-59).

This is all brand new work unloaded just last week!  Some have already sold, others are in boxes in or on their way to Philadelphia awaiting installation in exhibitions for NCECA, and still more will be packed up today for a drive down to Philly for another conference exhibition.  (Details on all next week’s conference shows are on my Schedule page here.)


We think in generalities, but we live in detail. ~ Alfred North Whitehead (British Mathematician and Philosopher, 1861-1947)

So, this is a teaser post, a glimpse of form and detail.  I wanted to share some new work with you to show the underglaze dots and stripes I’ve been working with and mentioned here, but am saving the full reveal for those of you who will be able to get to some shows in person at NCECA next week.  Consider this an enticement (whether you are able to attend Philly or not), to seek out ArtAxis, La Mesa and the Studio Pottery Invitational in Philly, or check back here in early April for more pics in their entirety, and pieces to purchase at my online store.


Only the poet can look beyond the detail and see the whole picture.
~ Helen Hayes, (American stage and film Actress, 1900-1993)

NEW New Work

Kristen Kieffer Flower VesselsKristen Kieffer House Form VasesKKHouse_form_sm_honey Kristen KIeffer Large Covered Jars KKWire_basket_grape KKHouseForm_SmLime_wflowersKristen Kieffer Stamped vasesKristen Kieffer Wire Baskets

Large “Classic” Covered Jars and flower vessels:
House Forms, Stamped Vases and Wire-handled Baskets.

These are new pots fresh from the kiln, as well as brand new forms in shape, design or decoration.  I just unloaded these (more pics and details on the New: Form & Surface page) and many more from three kilns in the last week.  There are more new pots and I will post once I take their pictures too.

Home as Sketch & Vase

I first made a small house form (little, 4″h maybe) almost four years ago when we bought our home. It currently sits in a windowsill near our front door, reminding me of its idea. Though this little guy was not a vase, vase forms in general have interested me for years because I like the idea of beauty holding beauty, and there are so many possibilities for shape, form and scale. Our house purchase and accompanying sense of Home, gave me the idea to pair my interest in flower display with the new feeling of place, and that first little house sculpture was the beginning.

House_forms_SketchIII kristen_kieffer_house_vases

Three years later (!), when I was at Watershed in June of ’08, I worked out an idea for a slab-built house form as a vase for three flower stems. It was related to both the tile forms I’ve been making, but a free-standing version with openings, and the flower bricks. The drawings, above left, are from Watershed (with the addition of a collaged-on bungalow illustration I found and liked). This last year I made more (above right; a detail of this grouping is also my current website header), and have been drawing new ideas since: salt-box and cottage style vases, different “door” and “window” decoration, various “roof” shapes and size concepts in relation to different flower types.

I’ve written before about how important my sketchbook is to my development of new forms. The sketches are like bookmarks for ideas, like the little house in my windowsill. I have one place where I record my brainstorms (even if I draw on random pieces of paper, they ultimately get taped into my latest sketchbook), and so can easily flip back through a current or older sketchbook to re-work or tackle an idea.

House_Forms_SketchI House_Forms_SketchII

Though not all ideas become pots, my tendency is to draw, then make the form and then draw again to reassess what I learned from the first round. There could be a 24-hour or 4 year gap between those stages, but that’s a typical progression. So the  drawings above are from the last six months after that first round.  I still haven’t made the “compound” house form (above right), but did complete the pictured  grouping of small (7″h) house forms yesterday that incorporate some of the different architectural styles I had been contemplating in the above image, left.

I will post these again after they have been glaze-fired, hopefully outfitted with some approriate posies.  This round of houses was thrown on the potter’s wheel instead of slab-built which gave them a natural fuller form (kind of marshmallowy).  I had to laugh when I finished the second or third.  I scaled these down by a couple of inches and also experimented with a square “footprint” in addition to rectangular.  The result for one in particular was a bit more outhouse than house, especially with the little window slit in the door.  I do laugh a lot in my studio, but this is a good example of the unexpectedness that can materialize from translating two to three-dimensions (though I do 3-D paper and/or clay “sketches” too), how improvisation and scale can impact an idea, and that fun is really important to my making.

Postcard Retrospective

Small covered jars*, 2008
Stamped cups, 2007
Wire flower brick*, 2005
Flower boat (Corset series), 2003
KK_postcard_ 2001
Lady vase, 2002
Tea set, Flower basket and Pourer with Saucer, 2001

I have had a “publicity” postcard made every year or two since 2001.  (There are two other postcards from ’95 and ’98 I’ll have to dig up for another—more humorous—post.)  The two most recent cards, with the jars and cups, are cone 7 electric; the others are cone 10 soda reduction.  The image directly above is my MFA graduation show card from Ohio University.  Six postcards of work from four different studios.  It’s interesting to see how things have changed, most notably after my thesis card, going from what I see as just “ornate” to more “elegant”.  Aside from additional layering, the surfaces haven’t changed a lot, but the lines that define the forms have.  They are more crisp and where I see the elegance happening.  I was the photographer for all of these too, baring witness to the transition from film to digital.

*If you would like a postcard, I would like for you to have one.  My most current 2008 Covered jar postcard and the 2005 Flower Brick postcard are still available.  (The former because it’s still new and the latter because a printing error left me with 2500!)  Simply drop me an email with “Postcard” in the subject line, your mailing address in the body, and specify which card: 2008, 2005 or both.  I would love for you to have a pot, but this is a nice precursor, and something you can actually hold in the meantime.

onelovelyblogawardThank you to Charan Sachar of the great Creative with Clay blog for presenting me with one of his Lovely Blog Awards.  I appreciate the friendly acknowledgment!

Spring Studio Sale at Kieffer Ceramics

kk_wire-flowerbrick-lightSpring has sprung here in MA —feels more like summer even— which means it’s pottery gifting season!

My Annual Spring Studio Show & Sale is May 16th and May 17th.  (Always the open weekend between Mother’s Day and Memorial weekends.)

Come by to check out some new work (pendants to pots), see my new studio space and shop for your spring and summer gifting needs.  Sample local cheeses while you peruse some outstanding discount pots too.

My home studio is located in north central Mass about an hour each from Manchester, NH; Brattleboro, VT; Putnam, CT; Woonsocket, RI; Northampton, Worcester and Boston, MA.

Contact me for information on times and directions.  We look forward to seeing you!

Thank you for sponsoring creativity and community by supporting local artists, and buying and giving handmade.

Upcoming ’09 Exhibitions & Workshops

My Show & Workshop schedule thru early Spring ’09.  The pots pictured below for the shows at Santa Fe Clay, the Bray, the Ohio Craft Museum and NCECA will actually be in those exhibitions.
kristen_kieffer_screen_w_flowersFlora Exhibition Invitational with Megan Bogonovich, Kim Dickey, Maria Dondero, Molly Hatch, Tim Ludwig & me at Santa Fe Clay in Santa Fe, NM thru January 17.  (Each artist is exhibiting approximately 15-20 pieces in a range of sizes and price points; for me: cups to corset.)

kristen_kieffer_flowerbrickBeyond the Brickyard exhibition juried by Patti Warashina at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana January 31 – March 15.


kk-teapot-lt-blueThe Infinite Teapot at the Ohio Craft Museum in Columbus, OH 2/1 – 3/29; and Teapots: Functional, Formal and Narrative curated by Susan O’Brien and Margaret Bohls at the U. of Wisconsin Foster Gallery in Eau Claire, WI 2/26 – 3/29.

Kristen Kieffer workshop demonstrationWorkshop with me presented by the Jackson Pottery & Clay Guild at The Ella Sharp Museum of Art & History in Jackson, MI March 13 – 15.


kristen_kieffer_pear-jar_iNCECA 2009 Clay National Biennial Exhibition juried by Ceramic artists Chris Staley and Jeanne Quinn, and AMOCA Director Christy Johnson at Arizona State University Art Museum Ceramics Research Center in Phoenix, AZ March 22 – May 23.

kk-stamped-cups-blue-2-iParadise City Arts Festival, a juried retail craft show in Marlborough, MA March 20 – 22.


kk-yunomis-frost-iYunomi Invitational at AKAR Design both online and in Iowa City, IA March 27 – July.



kk-sq-servers-stackMade In Clay Invitational Exhibition at Greenwich House Pottery in NYC April 2 – 30.


kieffer_ghp_workshopFunctional Ceramics Workshop 2009 with Dick Lehman, Karl Borgeson and me at the Wayne Center for the Arts in Wooster, OH April 16 – 18.