Wall Candy

Every other year or so, I make a small series of wall forms, each more elaborate than the last. At almost 3″ deep, they’re too dimensional to be called a tile, and too soft-looking to be called a box; so “pillow” seems the most suitable term for this round, as they are plumper and poofier than ever before. I really like making these forms. I mean, I really like making these…A LOT. They are my opportunity to explore layered pattern over volume without having to balance function. (Though I make sure they hang easily, and their purpose is adding beauty, so they ‘function’ perfectly!)

I think of these pieces as being collage because I’m assembling disparate pattern as well as layering four different ceramic decoration techniques (slip-sponge, underglaze, slip-trail, and mishima). But I also think of them as little paintings because I’m applying color and texture to a surface; the deco and the canvas are just both ceramic. So, ‘ceramic collage pillow paintings’ ~ perfect for adding a lovely focal point to your home décor, solo or grouped. Or just call them ‘wall candy,’ that suits me and my influences just fine.

This is just the beginning of what’s new for 2013 from my studio, some of which are already available in my online shop. These rich layers have also made their way onto some of my yunomis and large plates, all also debuting exclusively in my Etsy shop in the New Year. More posts on form and deco newness coming up with a few teasing glimpses on my Facebook page in the album New Work 2013.

Interest in Pinterest

interest. I’m on it, and either you are too, or I’m guessing you’ve never heard of it. Technically it is yet another ‘thing’ to do online, but it’s different (really!), and I’m completely addicted and want you to be too. Actually, it’s perfect if you’re someone like me who frequently bookmarks images into folders to your browser, which you can only see if each one is opened. So! Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board. A place for you to ‘pin’ what ‘interests’ you, thus ‘Pinterest.’ You have your own page where you can have as many pinboards as you’d like on which to pin images you find on the web, repin favorite images others have pinned, and upload your own new images in whatever way strikes your fancy.

I use Pinterest primarily to bookmark influences for inspiration, organize images for future blog posts and Power Point presentations, and minimally to dream about home renovation ideas and fashion purchases (which also inspire pots). Plus, I’m an image lover. Who doesn’t like pretty pictures of fabulous objects?

I’ve been ‘pinning,’ as they call it, for about six months and seem to have accumulated 20 separate pinboards of interests with over 900 images, including Form & Pattern, Color, Couture, Oldies but Goodies, Interiors & Objects, Props to Props, as well as three different ceramics boards (vintage/historical, studio, and industrial design).

So, you can learn more about Pinterest from the NY Times, request an invitation from Pinterest, and follow my pinboards. Below are some recent favorite pix, one each from most of my pinboards. Feel free to pin images from my website and online shops to your boards! Happy Pinning!


MFA, Boston Jaunt


Here are some of my faves from our wicked awesome autumn jaunt to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The MFA recently opened a new wing for arts from the Americas, so many of my pix are from there, but as usual, what I’m drawn to are diverse materials, time periods, shapes, and styles, which will filter into my work in various ways over time. Enjoy!, and see more influence, pictorial posts here. (Hover your cursor over any pic, or click each, for more info.)


Even Artists Need A Hobby

I didn’t think it strange that an artist might have a hobby until my students (adults who take my class as a hobby) giggled with wonder and surprise when I voiced needing one. Everyone needs time away from their work, even if their work is someone else’s hobby.

There are definitely days in my studio when I get lost in the enjoyment of giving breath to the clay while I throw, “quilting” the wall of a pot as I stamp, spinning that perfect curl of slip-trail, or creating a lovely negative space for a handle. But, there is also weight—self-imposed pressures—carried into the studio about sales, deadlines, goals, growth and more that is hard to “lose” sometimes. Again, I love what I do, but I don’t want it to be all that I do. I like finding other activities that are mentally or physically rejuvenating (or quieting), so that when I am in my studio, that time is as enjoyable and productive as possible. Pitcher (handle) in progress.

Since we bought our home here in the boonies of MA, when the weather allows, I am outside in my perennial gardens. A hobby for me is doing something I enjoy that allows escape and thoughts of nothing else, and gardening is the first thing I’ve found since my pottery beginnings that does that. I had been planning to do this post when Roger Ebert (yep, the movie critic) posted an article* last week in which he mentions that the most valuable asset of his hobby (drawing) is to allow him to both “experience a place or moment more deeply” and to lose track of time. Exactly! (Even a guy who watches movies for a living needs a hobby!) Painting by Andrew Woodward.

Since I work at home, I find it hard to shut the imaginary door (or even find the door) separating my work time (which isn’t without play) from my not-work time.  Basically, I think too much, and since there is no “off” switch, I need a hobby.  Gardening isn’t something I can do year-round, so I decided just recently to start painting. I loved, I mean loved, to draw as a kid. Remember when “color” was a verb and we wanted to do it as much as go outside and play? Maybe that’s just me, but it’s a feeling I want to resurrect. I remember coloring with the big box of Crayola crayons and then fat Crayola markers as a kid, and then in my teens, painting with acrylics. For my degrees, I’ve taken classes in painting, drawing, printmaking and design, but the last time I drew or painted for fun had to have been in high school. Painting by Mathias Heiderich.

Coincidentally (or not?), my Grandpa painted for a hobby. My grandparents home was a revolving gallery of his paintings. He showed in some local juried exhibitions, won numerous awards, but never sold any (perhaps to maintain hobby status), which is happily why I own a wonderful selection of them. One of the best conversations we had in his later years was about art (his paintings and my pottery)—comparing goals, aesthetics, and foibles of material and maker. As an oil painter who strove for realism, I don’t know what he’d think about my interest in impressionism, abstract expressionism or exaggerated color, but it would be neat to talk to him now about what he felt as he painted. Painting by Ward Kieffer.

I’m curious to see how my pottery informs my painting and vice versa. I’m already painting fields of stripes, and my envy over the ease of mixing paint colors has revved my desire to revamp my glaze palette. I’m also finding it hard and humorous to be new at something. Mostly though, I’m enjoying getting lost in color, line and process, like when I garden (except painting is easier on the knees). Stay tuned for the impact of hobby (my painting) on art (my pots)! I think it will be pretty interesting myself. If nothing else, it should remind me to play more during my “work time”. When I look back on my life, I want to make sure that Iplayed. Painting by Ian Davenport.

Above and below are some painters and paintings in particular I love, and consider influence on my painting-as-hobby pursuits, with more favorites here.


From top left: Giorgio Morandi, Jennifer Sanchez and Charles Demuth.  Second row: Michael Cutlip, Clare Rojas and Beatriz Milhazes.  Third row: Gene Davis, Kate O’Connor and Chuck Close.  Fourth row: Glennray Tutor, René Magritte and Richard Diebenkorn.  Last row:  Peter Freitag and Matte Stephens.

*I highly recommend reading Roger Ebert’s journal post “You can draw, and probably better than I can” if you are a maker, teacher or art-appreciator, which is really all of us.

*Cake* Cake Stands


As a lover of cake (as influence as well as treat), it makes sense that I would make cake stands. Several years ago, I did make a couple, but lost interest (and apparently didn’t even photograph them).  However!  My new venture into polka dots and stripes in general, and stripe-y plates specifically, has gotten me jazzed to wrap ribbons of striped color down and around to accentuate this fun form.  Above are two recently completed cake stands I photographed from various angles.  Both are about 4″ h x 10″ diameter (able to display an 8 & 9″ cake respectively) with glossy tops and satin-glazed sides.

This summer, I finally got around to making a more substantial cake display form based on my drawings and metal-working influence.  I am humorously referring to it as a “cake throne”.  At some point, I hope to post a pic after the glaze fire, as well as make more. Pictured: Cake Throne detail at leatherhard

It seemed fun and appropriate to share some other cake stands (with and without cakes, functional and not) in this post, kind of a sideways follow-up of favorites to my Cake as Influence post.  I sometimes use the word “cake” as an adjective to mean “great,” “lucky” or “awesome”.  So, below is a range of very *cake* cake stands (and other peripherally related images) I found in my searches, yielding a range of handmade to manufactured, new to vintage and ceramic to, well, oil. Enjoy!


If you hover your cursor over the pics above, you can get most of the info below too. From top left: Vintage glass cake stands with cakes; Esther Coombs’ 3-tier Rose Cake Stand, EstherCoombs on Etsy; and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel dress paired with wedding cakes, Trend de la Creme blog post; Second row: Blaue Blume cake stand by Tina Tsang; The Husband Catcher Cake, oil painting by Janet Hill; and Art Deco cake stencil wrapper from Fancy Flours; Third row: Silver cake stand;and Maren Kloppmann’s Ledge Platter; Fourth row: Whitney Smith’s Bird Cupcake Stand, WhitneySmith on Etsy; Lemon cake with blue icing and dots, Country Living photo shoot; and Iacolli & Mcalllister cake stands on Big Cartel; Fifth row: Kari Radasch’s cake stand with confetti cake, Redware on Etsy; Lazy Daisy skirts by Made With Love By Hannah (cake stands have skirts, and these are super cute!); and w2products Willow cake stand; Sixth row:  Jeanette Zeis’ Lace cake plate, vesselsandwares on Etsy; 4 Layer Cake, oil painting by Paul Ferney; and antique three-tier cake stand;  Seventh row:  reproduction of 1930s-era glass cake stand; D’lovely cake stand, fergusonpottery on Etsy; and Elle cake stand by Clara French; Last row:  cake stand from The Tea Pot Shoppe; striped cake by The Yummy Cake Company; and Black Lace Cake Stand from the MoMA store.



First row, left to right: Mark Rothko painting No. 22, 1949, 1920s Chicago Transit Authority poster, and Bev Hisey Reflective Folk CushionSecond row: autumn leaves, Andrew Zuckerman bird photograph and my warm-toned glazes;  Third row: Berlin Festival of Lights, Dave Jordano Storefront Church photograph and a Sevres potpourri vase;  Fourth row: Andrew Zuckerman Masked Lovebird photograph and my cool-toned glazes;  Fifth row: Hindu (Holi) Festival of Colours, JollyBe Chrysanthemums wedding cake, and peacock;  Sixth row: Cole & Son Dorset wallpaper, botanical print and Felissimo’s Colored Pencil SetLast row: KiBiSi chairs and a Viola Frey figure.

Oh, how I love color.

I suppose most everyone enjoys color, but if there were a 1 to 10 rating for color love, I would be at a 9 or 10 on the scale. I envy synesthetes and think about color throughout my day, in and out of the studio. I have a similar response to color that others do when they eat a piece of chocolate—that little butterfly feeling of yum.


These tumbler images (above and below) represent the myriad of ways the nine colors in my palette can be placed together to give a completely different color feel.


One of my grad school (MFA, Ohio U. 2001) professors, Joe Bova, recently commented to me that he believes “color is the most personal element in art”.  I certainly took a lot of time considering my color palette when I switched from high-fire soda (a more limited inherently glossy palette) to mid-range electric where the options are delightfully and overwhelmingly limitless.


I spent several months testing glazes to find both the color and quality (“breaking” satin vs. glossy) that best suits my work and me.  There were several determining factors.  The first and most important is that since I spend more time around my work than anyone else, I wanted colors I enjoy.  I also wanted colors that work well together, that compliment each other.  Finally, I wanted a palette that gives my collectors options: some people prefer neutrals, some prefer brights, and I have both as well as what’s in between.


Because my work is predominantly monochrome*, I don’t think it’s as recognized for its color because an individual piece isn’t particularly colorful (i.e. having multiple colors).  Though I am currently running some new tests to add stripes and dots of patterned color, “colorful” in my pots comes from their proximity to each other.  I love seeing which colors my customers pair, mix and match when they buy 2, 4 or 12 pieces.


All of my glaze colors are warm-toned, meaning that even the cool colors (blue, purple and green) have yellow undertones.  The names I have given the nine colors are Ivory (an off-white that looks almost like leatherhard porcelain), Frost (the super pale turquoise that looks a bit like a celadon), Honeycomb (a pale, warm yellow), Lime (a fruity yellow-green), Rosa (a salmon-y, mahogany pink), Cornflower blue (a rich lighter blue), Grape (a warm, plum-y purple), Caramel (a very yummy gold brown) and Blackberry (a deep wine, purple-y red).

On most forms, the satin glaze is the most visible, but the interiors are lined with a glossy version of the outside color, so I really work with 18 glazes.  Some forms, like my bowls and serving pieces, reveal more of the glossy color.  I like the contrast of satin to shine, so in addition to keeping the food surfaces functional with a glossy glaze, it is an aesthetic choice too.


Choosing glaze colors is not like picking out paint (potters will sardonically laugh and nod at that statement) because there is chemistry, elemental change and heat involved.  Red and blue does not necessarily make purple in the clay world.  My color palette came from having a sense of colors I wanted ( a green, a purple, a red—one of the hardest colors to “get” in ceramics, etc.) and then testing to match that expectation with the possibilities paired with my clay, cost of materials, firing temperature and application, not to mention aesthetic goals.  As my husband would say, it’s tricky business.


I gather inspiration for color from everywhere.  There are my “usual” sources (period clothing, Art Nouveau prints, Islamic architecture, etc.), but there are also more obscure suggestions for color, like the images at the beginning of this post.  Right now I’m liking the blue in the shadows of the snow, the transitional green from light to dark inside an avocado and I keep thinking of that orange that was in a room my husband and I stayed at in Iceland six years ago.


I believe the color in my work is one of several elements which makes my pots unique.  I agree with my professor that color is personal, a way to relay an emotion or spark a memory.  It’s a fascinating subject.

*I tend to use one color or two similar colors on a piece because I feel this best shows off the form, where multiple colors tend to divide the form. Imagine a woman wearing a purple shirt, blue belt and yellow pants next to one wearing a purple dress.