In Progress—Corset Vessels

Corset In Progress I Corset In Progress II

Left: Altered, darted and footed.  Right: Cut and defined lip/neckline.

Corset In Progress III Corsets in progress IV

Left: All four in-progress.  Right: Handles and further definition.

Corsets In Progress V

The first two ladies complete with their slip-trailed deco.

I began this Corset series around six years ago (a story I’ll delve into at a different time) and though I don’t actually make them often, they have become somewhat of a signature form. This vessel idea began as corset-like, becoming more literal before morphing into something I think of now as more akin to upholstered furniture than vintage undergarment.

It was gratifying to spend the last week and a half (not at my computer) making some pots I just felt like making. The four are now complete and drying slowly in anticipation of joining other smaller pots yet to be made for a bisque firing.

The images above show some of the stages in the making process, minus the most dramatic image (because it didn’t occur to me till later to document it). These begin as straight-sided cylinders…subsequently altered, darted, built, added on, refined, defined, slip-trailed, slip-sponged and carved.

My Home to Your Home

KK Stamped cup groupingMy Holiday Studio Sale is coming up (10/24-25), the third since I’ve set up shop in our home. This is probably the most enjoyable and easily the most intimate way that I sell my work. A small number of people from our community drive to our home in the boonies, walk through our kitchen and down to my basement studio—trying not to bump their heads in the low-ceilinged, c. 1920 stairwell— to chat, snack on local cheeses and purchase my pots.

KKHouse_form_sm_blueOne couple arrives promptly at 10 am on Saturday every time to have first pick. Some ask questions, but many are very focused, shuffling through the shelves of work to gather their finds, eager to make sure no one will take from their cluster of chosen pieces while they go back for more.  From the next town over to two hours away (which could be any of five different states!), they come to my home to buy my work to take back to their homes or, equally exciting, to give to someone else for their home.  This both amazes and pleases me to no end.

KK_blbjarIIIn my Studio Sale flyer and email, I use a sentence adopted and adapted from a sign I placed in a street-facing window in my last studio, a rental space in an old factory building in Worcester (MA).  The original sign, Sponsor Creativity & Community — Support Your Local Artists, was intended to speak to the passers-by about our presence. The phrasing has since morphed into an expression of appreciation to those who venture out to my current studio and share their interest in my work with others:

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

kk_yunomisI realize in this format, I am mostly preaching to the choir about buying and giving handmade.  But the importance of spreading the love for owning handmade is just that, important.  It’s a ripple effect.  Fellow MA potter, Arthur Halvorsen came up with a project called Operation C.U.P. (Citizens Using Pottery). His idea and goal is for buying-handmade supporters to give a handmade cup to a friend or family member who wouldn’t normally buy handmade, such a simple idea with only positive and potentially reverberating repercussions.

I hope to see some of you Saturday, October 24th 10Studio Full Shelves Vert-5, and Sunday, the 25th 11-4,  for my Holiday Studio Sale.  (You can begin your C.U.P. mission in my studio!)  Bring your friends, friends of friends and family.  Children are welcome, and can even be potential customers.  Last year, one seven-year-old promised her Mom that she [the little girl] would definitely drink her milk, even though she hated it, if the milk were in one of my little cordial cups with bunnies.  (A true-story sale.)  If you can’t make it, I hope you will let friends and family in New England know they can come to my home to Buy to give, elegant and handmade.  And everyone can buy here from me any time!

“Surface” DVD Progress


As some of you know, in May I spent about five days demonstrating in my studio for my first how-to dvd: Surface Decoration, Suede to Leatherhard.  I thought I’d let you know that I’ve seen the rough cut, and am pretty excited about it (especially after I got over the weirdness of watching myself).  Videos have as many steps as ceramics, so for this big first foray, it’s not surprising to report we are a bit off schedule.

This dvd will include techniques I use and some I enjoy but don’t currently incorporate in my own work. All are “suede” to leatherhard decoration techniques mostly using slip, including stamp-making and stamping, slip-trailing, sponging, paper resist, water-etching, sgraffito, mishima, carving and sprigging. My goal is to show techniques with which you may not be familiar, offer a new take on the traditional and generally excite interest in the potential of the ceramic surface.

Kristen KiefferI strongly feel that in-person instruction is best, and a video by anyone is no substitution for classroom interaction, workshop question-and-answer or one-on-one discussion. I know not everyone is able to take a workshop or class, and I realize that many of those who are able to attend one of my workshops may like a video to review some learned techniques.

I will continue to keep you all posted!

My New Studio Space!


My new studio is mostly complete (just needs a ceiling). Definitely ready for someone to get to work! Now I have heat and light after three years of cold and dark.  What you are seeing is a small (15 x 15′) addition to our basement, where I used to be.  A small move, but a BIG improvement!


(Special thanks to my darlin’ hubby for all his hard work to give me a warm work space.  Thank you, Sweetheart.)

In Progress—Alphabet Blocks & Teapots

kk_alpha_blocks_green kk_alpha_blocks_stacked

The alphabet blocks are an idea that has been on my mental back-burner for awhile, but an invitation to be in The Clay Studio’s show, Small Favors IV, brought them to life this week. Unfinished (green), each is approximately a 3 1/2″ cube. I needed to do something fun, tangential and for me…and they were.  I would love to do the whole alphabet.  I have some plans for some, well, not for kids blocks too.  These exquisitely blend my recent favorite forays: text, animals and play.


The fourth image is of two of the six teapots I completed this week for upcoming shows and a commission (each between 10-11″h, green –unglazed and unfired).



These are brand NEW forms and ideas unloaded from the glaze kiln last week, and shot yesterday (by me…in my kitchen) to share with you.

Once I’m set up, I enjoy photographing (or, “digitizing”) my work. I like playing with close-ups and positioning, trying to stage the piece(s) in the most dynamic and informative way (like the red b-form pair above). Below are some detail shots from yesterdays photo shoot:

Screen vase set (squished together), top image: front-sides, bottom: back-sides


left: Flower vessel; Right: Garter box


left: Flower vessel; right: Pear covered jar

So, many of these new images will be sprinkled around this site.

And in other Kieffer Ceramics news… My studio is in a minor upheaval as we add on a small addition to give us more space, heat and windows down there. Today’s activity involved a couple of great guys cutting a 6′ x 7′ opening into the foundation wall where my work table once stood (pictured below with our beautiful front yard). As they say from my husband’s hometown of Woonsocket, RI: “There it is. Gone.”