Tag Archives: Ceramics

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Momoko Takeshita Keane

Ceramic artist Momoko Takeshita Keane

Ceramic artist Momoko Takeshita Keane

The real heart of ceramics for me is simply the effect of fire on clay.

The technique I use to form my ceramic sculpture is called coil building. Slender ropes of clay called coils are wound in a spiral, and pinched one upon another, to build the desired shape.
"Embrace" (left) and "Fissure" (right) by Momoko Takeshita Keane

“Embrace” (left) and “Fissure” (right) by Momoko Takeshita Keane

Then the work is fired in a Japanese-style kiln called an anagama that is heated by burning wood. It is the effects of this burning wood on the clay — and how it brings out the inherent qualities of the clay — that is the essence of my work.
Momoko's work, alongside other artists' work, loaded into the kiln (left); and work outside of the kiln after it has been fired.

Momoko’s work, alongside other artists’ work, loaded into the kiln (left); and work outside of the kiln after it has been fired.

The mouth of the anagma kiln (left); stoking the fire with wood (right)

The mouth of the anagama kiln (left); stoking the fire with wood (right)

I studied ceramics originally in the ancient kiln town of Shigaraki, Japan, but there weren’t so many opportunities there for me as a woman at that time to do wood-firing. After moving to Ithaca, I began to fire in the anagama that Fred Herbst runs at Corning Community College. The colors and effects on the clay from this kiln are more than I could have expected. Much of my work has been born there including the series called Embrace that has been accepted in many international ceramic competitions.

"In Praise of Nature" runs through July 31, 2018 on the second floor at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs.

“In Praise of Nature” runs through July 31, 2018 on the second floor at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs.

I am so pleased to have had the chance to exhibit this work at the Main Street Arts gallery.

In Praise of Nature, an exhibition featuring wood-fired ceramic sculpture by Momoko Takeshita Keane, runs through July 31, 2018 on the second floor at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased on the Main Street Arts Artsy page.

From The Director: Art From a Dream State

Similar to the four artists included in this exhibition, I also make artwork that floats in the realm of dreams and a questioning of reality. Many of the exhibitions that we have here (selfishly) relate to my own studio practice or ideas that I am personally interested in and it is because I find these things so interesting that I choose to share them with you through our exhibition programming.

Installation shot from Dream State (pictured: "Isle of Wight" by Lin Price and "The Dream" by Carrianne Hendrickson)

Installation shot from the exhibition (pictured: “Isle of Wight” by Lin Price and “The Dream” by Carrianne Hendrickson)

The notion of the dream state is a never ending source of inspiration and it can be both the object and the subject of an artwork. We rarely give ourselves the opportunity to let our dreams inform our waking life but much can be gained by doing so. Our subconscious mind is often holding the answers to questions that we have been asking ourselves. It is able to offer a glimpse into a personal truth or a hint at finding some kind of greater understanding. The goal in engaging with your dreams, at least for me, is to build a stronger connection between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The closer in proximity these two can be, the closer we are to realizing the benefits of dreaming.

Dream State, installation shot

“Dream State”, installation shot

The idea for this exhibition came after a studio visit with Lin Price in Ithaca. I was drawn in to her work when I first saw it in a solo exhibition at Axom Gallery two years ago. When I was talking to her about the prospect of being in an exhibition, I began to think about the sculptures of Carrianne Hendrickson—we had recently begun showing several of Carrianne’s figurative pieces in our gallery shop. Lin had one painting in particular that reminded me of a specific piece I had seen by Carrianne. It was one of the paintings shown in the exhibition at Axom Gallery.

These two pieces in particular (one of Lin’s and one of Carrianne’s) are the reason this show came together. Left: She Only Flies at Nite by Lin Price / Right: Sculptural teapot by Carrianne Hendrickson

While they are not included in the exhibition, these two pieces in particular are the reason this show came together. Left: She Only Flies at Nite by Lin Price / Right: Sculptural teapot by Carrianne Hendrickson

The moment I realized that these two artists in particular belonged in a show together was like a revelation. Two people who probably wouldn’t be in an exhibition together but desperately needed to be! One working in oil paint the other in clay, yet both traveling along the same cerebral path.

From my studio visit with Lin Price in Ithaca, NY

From my studio visit with Lin Price in Ithaca, NY

Lin’s work was a perfect fit for an exhibition called “Dream State”. Her paintings often feature a human figure engaging in some sort of mysterious activity in a nondescript environment. The colorful fields and atmospheres lend themselves to the notion of a dream or at least to a time and place that may not actually exist. Other of her paintings that do not include a figure still somehow evoke that same feeling. A feeling that something might happen or is happening just around the corner, out of frame and out of sight.

Sculptural vessels by Carrianne Hendrickson in the Dream State exhibition

Sculptural vessels by Carrianne Hendrickson in the Dream State exhibition

Carrianne’s sculptures are often layered in symbolism. Sometimes referencing known stories, other times referencing the inner world of the artist herself. To me, they often seem to suggest the moment of realization that things are not quite right. The idea that perhaps, I am sleeping and the world I am currently experiencing is in fact a dream. Examples from pieces in the exhibition include: blank stares from eyes whose head is balancing a bird’s nest, the closed eyes of a dreamer covered in snakes on a yellow striped couch, and the existence of goblins or human/animal hybrids.

Once Lin and Carrianne were secured for inclusion, I then set my sights on finding other artists to bring in to the exhibition and make it more comprehensive.

Left: From my studio visit with Matt Duquette in Buffalo, NY; Right: "The Space In Between" by Matt Duquette

Left: From my studio visit with Matt Duquette in Buffalo, NY; Right: “The Space In Between” by Matt Duquette

I was drawn in by his paintings of chickens. They have an otherworldly feeling to them but are still so relatable because of their subject matter. The paintings of Matt Duquette are often based on dreams and at least one painting in this exhibition was based on a guided meditation session.  Each of the paintings in the exhibition have the same cool, dark color palette. The atmospheric quality of these paintings presents us with situations and we have no idea how we got there. For the most part, there is no other point of reference, just a blue/black void and a light source to accompany the owls and human figures. I get the feeling that these scenes or visions are plucked right from a dream. They tell us something but that “something” is veiled and different for each of us.

Bill Finger's work from the alumni exhibition at RIT

Bill Finger’s work from the alumni exhibition at Rochester Institute of Technology

I saw some of Bill Finger’s photographic triptychs in circular mats at RIT in October of 2016 and was an instant fan. His photographs are a constructed reality running in tandem with the one we live. Whether based on actual places or totally made up, these images have a feeling like trying to recall a dream. You can remember the place and where things were but something seems off. Each of his photographs chosen for this exhibition keep us in an augmented reality where we are unsure what is possible or impossible.

Desert House (Night), a photograph by Bill Finger

Desert House (Night), a photograph by Bill Finger

Imagery that relates to a house or home comes into play throughout this exhibition. Houses, room interiors, nests, these are all familiar images and are all references to places of comfort which are needed to be engaged in sleep. These places become a jumping off point to engage in something that might be unfamiliar or at times, disconcerting. While we have no say in the matter of sleeping, some of us have the ability to recall and consider our dreams. Perhaps not in the way of figuring out the meaning of the dream itself, but to see how the dream may relate to things transpiring in our everyday lives. My hope is that this exhibition can serve as a reminder of how important it is to dream and that we all might begin to look inward in an effort to gain a greater understanding of who we are and how we relate to the world. I know it has for me.


See Dream State at Main Street Arts through this Friday, February 16, 2018. You can also preview some of the work on Artsy: Artsy.net/mainstreetarts.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Carrianne Hendrickson

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Left: Me when I was 10 years old, holding my cat (photo credit – Betty Rooker); Right: Working in my studio a few years later

My name is Carrianne Hendrickson and I have been practicing ceramics for 22 years. My main focus in clay is figurative and narrative based imagery that gravitates toward the unusual.

Graveyard near my childhood home

Graveyard near my childhood home

I believe my childhood experiences have had a pretty significant impact on the imagery I covet. Growing up living next to an old graveyard, and early exposure to Bosch and Bruegel paintings, may have also guided me toward developing an admiration for some of my more unusual image combinations.

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Box of my collected objects

I grew up in a rural community near Seneca Lake. I moved to Buffalo at age 17 for college, and lived there on the west side most of my young adult life. It was quite a drastic change from where I grew up. I didn’t own a car for a handful years so I traveled mainly by foot, by bike, or by bus (both day and night). A lot of unusual experiences were had because of this direct connection to the city that might not have occurred had I been in the driver’s seat of a car whizzing by everything. Eventually I had my “fill” of such experiences and bought a car.

I moved to Rochester, NY four years ago and my life is quite different now again, for unexpectedly wonderful reasons.

Work in progress and a curious studio assistant

Work in progress (including two pieces in this exhibition) and a curious studio assistant

My work in ceramics is primarily hand-built. My clay choice is usually low fire, however recently I have been working with cone 6 clay bodies and glazes.

Work in progress

Work in progress on “Child with Rabbit Ears”

I don’t usually have a completely concrete vision of what I am making when I start, but instead prefer to begin figures when the concept is more of a vague form in my mind.

The Dream (left) and The Cloud (right), two non-functional teapots included in the Dream State exhibition

The Dream (left) and The Cloud (right), two non-functional teapots included in the Dream State exhibition

You can see more of my work on my website: www.carriannehendrickson.com


Twenty-two sculptures by Carrianne Hendrickson can be seen in Dream State, on display through February 16, 2018. The exhibition also features paintings by Matt Duquette (Buffalo, NY), photographs by Bill Finger (Seattle, WA), and paintings by Lin Price (Ithaca, NY). Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased on Artsy.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Hedy Yang

I am a 21 year old artist at Michigan State University, majoring in ceramics and minoring in entrepreneurship. I started a small business in college, and plan on growing it after I graduate in May of 2018.

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Photo credit: Mackenzie Bogema

Believe it or not, my career as an artist started pretty unintentionally. My high school required that we take a certain number of art classes in order to graduate, so I decided that ceramics seemed like the most interesting of the available options. Little did I know, I would fall in love and it would become my passion.

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It was the summer before my junior year that I really found my niche. I had always been interested in elements of nature; marble, crystals, rocks and the endless interesting textures you can find. It seemed like in the last year or two, marble has become a very glamorous material. It’s often associated with class and luxury, due to it’s high price.

Every girl at school had a marble laptop case, phone case, or something to that effect. I was definitely one of those people as well, and I wanted to figure out how to make classy, chic looking pottery that imitated marble. I discovered the bubble glazing technique through a fellow artist, Robert Crisp, at the studio I attended. After a few rounds of testing, I started posting pictures and videos of my process and results online that became somewhat viral. My work has been shared by major Facebook accounts such as InsiderArt, Buzzfeed, Elle Décor, and many more.

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Here is a photo of my process; I use a small container filled with glaze, drizzle a few drops of dish soap in it, and blow with a straw. When that mixture bubbles up over the edge of the container and pops against the piece, you are left with a crisp outline of those glaze bubbles, which mimic the veining in marble.

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All my pieces are thrown and textured with precision, while the glazing part of my process brings a lot of uncertainty in the color and shapes. It took me over a year to finally feel like I was close to getting the hang of “bubbleglazing”, where I could feel consistently pleased with the results I was getting. With a lot of trial and error I was able to introduce other colors to create an entirely different style, and I plan to continue innovating and growing my style.

You can find more information about me and my work on Instagram , Facebook , or at my website


Two of Hedy’s cups are included in our national juried exhibition of drinking vessels, “The Cup, The Mug” (juried by Peter Pincus, educator and ceramic artist from Rochester, N.Y. Preview and purchase work from the exhibition through January 4, 2018: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Sam Lopez

Demo days are the best days

Demo days are the best days

I was born and raised in a small dairy town in Riverside County called Mira Loma just one hundred miles north of my current home in San Diego. As a kid, I spent most of my spare time  in my dad’s leather shop either helping sew up saddles or struggling along with my own projects. Working alongside my dad over the years has allowed me to grow up with an appreciation for well-crafted objects that help serve a community.

I got my start in ceramics in high school and was instantly hooked and spent all four years completely seduced by the potters wheel. Nearly fifteen years later, in May of 2017, I still retain my infatuation with the material and recently  received my MFA in ceramics from San Diego State University and now teach ceramics at Riverside City College. I am currently learning and enjoying the process of becoming an effective educator; and as with most teachers, I get most of my own studio work done anytime class isn’t in session.

One and three fingered handled mugs

One and three fingered handled mugs

I primarily make utilitarian pottery but try to remain open to other processes and ideas. I make the majority of my work on the potters’ wheel but also use slip casting and hand building techniques for some of my larger scale works. My surface choices are made based on the color of my clay. Aside from its’ smoothness, I work primarily in porcelain because it provides an opportunity for a pristine white background to the painted surfaces I apply to each piece. It also takes color fairly well so I will often pigment my clay to explore different foreground/background color relationships.

Porcelain Polychrome cups

Porcelain Polychrome cups

Polychrome cups on Black Porcelain

Polychrome cups on Black Porcelain

slip case colored clays with black underglaze

slip case colored clays with black underglaze

When making pots, I work fluidly through small batches and continually test myself with new forms. My sketchbook will sometimes guide a making session if I am actively trying to approach new ideas of form, especially with more complex forms like teapots and other pouring pots. However, I will almost always use sketches through a batch of cups with the hopes of exploring larger forms similarly. Generally, I am attracted to creating some kind of tension in each form as well as a tension with the glaze surface of each pot.

I continually try to ask questions of each piece. The question, “How can this form demonstrate qualities of both hard and soft sensibilities?” has been lingering in my head for nearly six months and still keeps me excitedly making new work in the studio.

Varying Mug Shapes

Varying Mug Shapes

Cup variations from my sketch book

Cup variations from my sketch book

Two prominent influences are my dad and Josef Albers. My dad taught me the importance of making with quality, which means to make something that can potentially last someone a lifetime of hard use with appropriate care. The beauty of the object was secondary to its functional success. As a result, some may find my pots to be a bit heavy according to most standards. I like for the user to be confident that each pot can withstand some banging around without fear of it easily breaking so I make sure to leave them just a little on the hefty side.

Josef Albers is largely responsible for my decisions when using color. His book, The Interaction of Color is never more than an arm’s reach away when I am painting with my underglazes. This book is full of great information and I would recommend it to anyone interested in color theory. This book helps me continually ask questions about color relationships and is the influence behind all the clay and glaze choices I make.

Mixing Color Washes

Mixing Color Washes

Tech talk:
I use cone 10 Miller Porcelain (WC631) from Laguna Clay. It is sold at other supplies under the name #550 as well. My liner glaze starts out as Tom Coleman’s TC-103 clear that I tint to my liking. This glaze is a great clear as well as a great base that takes color very well. I’ve tinted it using Amaco underglazes as well as traditional combinations. I paint my work using Amaco velvet underglazes. I really enjoy the ability to mix them up and create new colors relatively quickly. All my work is fired in oxidation to cone 10 before each piece is completely sanded. I use diamond sanding pads from 3M up to 800 grit on the surfaces of all my work. It is at this stage when my pots start to come to life. Although this takes up to an hour for one pot, I get a lot of enjoyment during this process because I get to thoroughly get to know each pot individually before I pack it up.

Sanding pads after three years of use

Sanding pads after three years of use

I am currently without a website, but I hope to rectify that within the next year. For the time being, people can easily find me on Instagram @Sam_._Lopez where I routinely share my studio practice and daily shenanigans. In the next year, I hope to dial in my pots a bit more and continue growing as a maker as well as an instructor. Teaching ceramics has been such a great learning experience this last year and I look forward to continually growing and learning from my students. For now, I feel extremely thankful to be a part of the clay and craft community that seems to be growing more than ever.

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“Mug”, included in the exhibition (click for more info)

"Cup", included in the exhibition

“Cup”, included in the exhibition (click for more info)


Sam is one of the award winners in our second annual “The Cup, The Mug” exhibition (juried by Peter Pincus). Stop by Main Street Arts to see Sam’s work through January 4, 2018 or buy his work  onlinestore.mainstreetartsgallery.com

 

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Rick Monikowski

My work is inspired by the sky and the mountains, the traditional pottery makers of the American Southwest, and the basket makers of my own Mi’kmaq people of New Brunswick Canada. My heritage is mixed – half Polish and half Mi’kmaq (Micmac) Indian of the Eel Ground First Nation of New Brunswick, Canada. I am originally from Hartford, Connecticut and now live in Rochester, NY.

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My trivets and baskets, for example, incorporate both the traditional and contemporary because the Mi’kmaq were traditionally basket makers. Weaving each piece of clay is time-consuming but these are some of my favorite pieces to create.

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Prior to moving to the Rochester area, I attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. While pursuing my JD and PhD, I had the opportunity to study and admire Pueblo pottery. In much of my pottery, my designs combine traditional shapes and forms with contemporary methods (wheel throwing and hand building).

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I began making pottery in 2001 at the Flower City Arts Center (formerly Genesee Center for the Arts and Education). I’ve also taken classes at Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of American Crafts. In the summer of 2007 I took a month-long course at the NY State School of Ceramics at Alfred University. My primary focus was studying glaze calculations while interacting with over 40 artists from across the country and a number of internationally recognized faculty. My work continues to evolve and expand as I experiment with different types of clays, glazes, and glaze applications. I create many of my own glazes. I work out of “Art Hill” near Honeoye Falls, NY (just south of Rochester).

I produce two different kinds of pottery – functional ware and art pieces. All my functional pieces are handmade and unique and are food-safe as well as microwavable and oven-safe.  I make a variety of smaller pieces such as mugs, bud vases, pie plates – again with glazes I developed myself.  And as I prepare for the show season, I spend a lot of time re-stocking my inventory shelves because once the nice weather comes, there’s less time for the studio!

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pieplates in progress

 I have also started producing dinnerware sets. This is my own green glaze on brown speckled clay – brand new!

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My art pieces, as I said, are inspired by the traditions of the American Southwest. In this plate, for example, I take an ancient design and put a contemporary spin on it. First I apply layers of colored slip, then using a sgraffito technique I scratch away the slip to reveal the Native design. In order to made it more contemporary, I often use a ruler, compass, and/or a protractor to sharpen the edges of the design.  After the piece dries, I finish it by applying a clear glaze and then I fire it .

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One last thing…It is very important to me – as an artist, an attorney, and a Native American – that the general public understands the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-644). It is a truth-in-advertising law that prohibits misrepresentations in marketing of Indian arts and crafts products within the United States. It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian,  Indian Tribe, or Indian arts and crafts organization. This covers all Indian and Indian-style traditional and contemporary arts and crafts produced after 1935. Every piece I make carries my RAM mark (my initials) and those pieces that reflect my Native American heritage come with a Certificate of Authenticity with my signature.

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Stop by Main Street Arts to see RAM Stoneware in our gallery shop! Visit Rick’s website at http://ramstoneware.com (new website in progress) and email him at rick@ramstoneware.com.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by jewelry artist Brittany Rea.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Brittany Rea

My interest in art started before my memories truly do. I was raised in Branchburg, NJ, a small town in Northern Central New Jersey. Growing up I had incredibly supportive parents and a slew of amazing art teachers who showed me the importance and allure of art. I have since spent most of my post-high school life moving throughout New York State and had a short stay in California for an artist residency at the Sonoma Community Center.

Photo Credit: bridget Hagen, 2016

Photo Credit: bridget Hagen, 2016

Art has been one of the few constants in my life, though its meaning in my life has evolved over the years. Growing up I enjoyed drawing mostly in pastel, which led to painting, which led to going to art school. I took classes as a high school student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and attended a vocational school where I spent many hours of my day in a classroom specially focused on graphic design and fine art. I attended Pratt at Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute for Art Education which would lead me directly to my dream school, Pratt Art Institute. While at PrattMWP I took my first ceramics wheel class, which changed my entire path. The mesmerizing and meditative qualities of clay instantly captivated me. My professor, Bryan McGrath, encouraged me to apply to the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, one of the top ceramics schools in the country. I started at Alfred the following semester. Here, I also found a love for sculpture, specifically creating room installations, and clay and sculpture were my concentrations for the remainder of my higher education, continuing all the while with a minor in Art Education.

Healing Memory 2013

Healing Memory 2013

As Above, So Below 2013

As Above, So Below 2013

Upon graduation, I began working at the Creative Studios of the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY and began working as the Production Assistant for my former professor and immense talent, Kala Stein. While her assistant, Kala was hired as the Ceramics Director at the Sonoma Community Center in Sonoma, California. She encouraged me to apply for the technician position, and  through this application I was offered a six month artist residency at Sonoma Ceramics, where my more recognizable jewelry design style and work was born.

Photo Credit Nicoletta Camerin

Photo Credit Nicoletta Camerin

I had been working with a jeweler, Marisa Krol of Interstellar Lovecraft, while in Rochester prior to my residency, working to learn the basics of jewelry making. I had always been interested in making jewelry, and grew up creating simple pieces for my family and myself. Ironically enough, I was enrolled in a Small Metals class while at PrattMWP but decided to continue on with another ceramics class instead- just shows how things can come full circle! While I was in Sonoma I decide to try my hand at making wearable clay jewelry.

Then v. Now

Then v. Now

This original work was based off of sketches I was doing from rocks and shells I had found while in Maine at Haystack Mountain School of Craft working as a Studio Assistant to David Eichelberger. These first pieces were not the strongest, but I felt I was onto something, so I persisted.

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Using Nichrome Wire to make small attachments and simple adornments on my jewelry designs, I continued to push this idea further by layering the thin wire and playing with the negative/positive space it created. I started using Cassius Clay, a cone 5 clay that fires black, to contrast the use of the chrome-colored wire.

Nicoletta Camerin

Nicoletta Camerin

Wanting to continue with this method of making but also having an urge to work larger, I began making hundreds of these small, pendant-like pieces to create an installation.

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intro|spectate 2016

intro|spectate 2016

intro|spectate, Self + Sonder, and 10 Suggestions are collections of work by Brittany Rea with a central focus on introspection and the inadvertent impact we have on those around us. The object-hood of this work is one facet of its existence while the awareness of self and the unidentified other are consequential.

Through the use of vitreous black clay embellished with delicately crafted metallic wire, Rea exemplifies the idea of inherent beauty. The use of open space invites the viewer to look beyond the materiality of the objects to further examine their abstract significance. The duality of intro|spectate creates two experiences: one of material, one of spectator.

This exhibition is about reflection brought by looking and seeing, both within and without and is the culmination of Rea’s time spent as the Resident Artist at the Sonoma Community Center.“ (Artist Statement from exit show)

intro|spectate (detail)

intro|spectate (detail)

intro|spectate (detail)

intro|spectate (detail)

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Upon returning to Rochester I was offered a residency at the Adorned Studios – joining the amazing forces of Interstellar Lovecraft and Inner Loop Design Co.

The Adorned Studio -I'm pictured with Amber Dutcher of Inner Loop Design Co (center) and Marisa Krol of Interstellar Lovecraft (right) photo credit Arielle Ferraro

The Adorned Studio -I’m pictured with Amber Dutcher of Inner Loop Design Co (center) and Marisa Krol of Interstellar Lovecraft (right) photo credit Arielle Ferraro

At this time I found that a lack of easy access to kilns would drastically alter my studio process, so I started to delve further into metal fabrication.

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This is when I started to push my ideas as a designer, and started using more quality materials such as sterling silver. Even with this new process, I wanted to maintain the aesthetic of the work I was making in California, so I began using polymer clay.

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This material was easily malleable meaning I could form it to be seamless within my designs, and I didn’t have to wait for a kiln to cool, so the turnover time was incredible!

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I could start and finish a piece in one day – never before was that a possibility with clay.

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Polymer was a great material to use for a time, but I wanted to continue to grow and use more sophisticated, quality materials.

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I started incorporating gemstones into my work, and am continuing to push this further. In the past few months I’ve enjoyed using my work for a greater good.

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(JBOS Series – Proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and a breast cancer survivor)

I started to make lines devoted to specific causes with proceeds being donated to different foundations and causes.

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One Collective Heart (Proceeds are divided and donated to the Americans Civil Liberties Union, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Natural Resource Defense Council).

I hope to continue pushing my abilities, and using my work for the betterment of those and that which surround me. I am currently moving into a new studio situation and am looking forward to the inspiration new beginnings can bring!

Photo credit Bridget Hagen 2016

Photo credit Bridget Hagen 2016

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Stop by Main Street Arts to see Brittany’s jewelry in our gallery shop. Visit Brittany’s website at www.brittanyrea.com and follow Brittany on Instagram @rea.designs to see her artwork, process, and even some travel photos! Find Brittany on Facebook at www.facebook.com/brittanyreajewelryandart.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by local artist Andy Reddout.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jessie Marianacci Valone: jmv ceramics

My name is Jessie Marianacci Valone and I am a potter and owner of jmv ceramics.  I grew up in the Finger Lakes area and currently live in Bristol, NY with my husband and two labradors, Lola and Buxton.

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With a focus on utilitarian pottery forms, I strive to create beautiful, well crafted, functional forms that people will enjoy and use for display and engagement in the home and day to day life.

I began my artistic career in graphic design but have been working in clay for about 5 years now.  I became hooked when I took an elective class at school and wound up spending the majority of my time in the clay studio.  I switched my major the next semester and have been working in clay ever since.  I enjoy working with my hands and have an appreciation for the handmade. 

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I completed a year apprenticeship at the Rochester Folk Art Guild in Middlesex, NY as well as three summer internships with Kate Symmonds at Coach Street Clay in Canandaigua, NY.  I recently graduated from Alfred University with my BFA and have been working as a studio potter ever since.

I create my functional pottery forms with the potters wheel and  hand alterations, using a cone 6 porcelaneous clay body.

When I am creating a new piece I begin by sketching out forms
and surface designs ideas.

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I then make paper cut outs to further investigate the form before moving to the wheel and creating it in 3D.

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I use simple glazes to accentuate the generous and sturdy form and quiet the surface, allowing for a focus on form without distraction.

I also use a variety of colored slips and tools to create different surface designs.  This allows for the surface to be painterly yet still influenced by my graphic design background.

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The surfaces are pleasant, calm, stable, sturdy, generous, and clean. The work gives off a cool, refreshing feeling through the color palette I have chosen.

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The colors are these of natural elements; skyline, beautiful clouds, reflections in the lake, smooth river-stones in the creek-bed, waves crashing on the shoreline, reflections on the water or the inside of
a seashell. These are all places I pull inspiration from.

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The forms are sturdy, strong, generous and made for use. They are designed to be pleasant to look at and to function well. I hope that even the smallest of details such as the way the handle fits in your hand or the angle of the lip are pleasant areas for use.

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Craftsmanship and handwork are important aspects of my work.
I find tremendous value working with my hands along with the physical demands and intellectual choices I make in my practice
keep my work exciting and keep me continuing to work. I strive
to advance my skills as a potter through the process of research, planning and repetition.

I work in a production based practice while still maintaining a
high level of quality, thought/context and energy in the work.

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Bringing something new and thoughtful into the world generates sense of meaning and fulfillment.  There are so many avenues you can take with clay and the opportunities are endless, this keeps me striving to create.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see work by jmv ceramics in the gallery shop! Visit Jessie’s website at www.jmvceramics.com. Like her Facebook Page and follow her on Instagram @jmvceramics.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by Brooklyn artist Anne Muntges.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jillian Cooper

I spent my early childhood growing up in Manchester, New Hampshire and then moved to Lubbock, Texas where I remained for 20 years.  I earned my MFA with concentrations in Ceramics and Metalsmithing/Jewelry from Texas Tech University in 2015.  Currently, I am living in Plano, Texas where I work at Collin College as the Ceramics Lab Coordinator.

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I enjoy using lace in my work because it can be found embellishing everything from tablecloths to underwear.  It can be innocent, seductive, outrageous, delicate, timeless and trendy. It appears on babies, brides, entertainers and grandmothers.  The incorporation of lace allows me to simultaneously represent a variety of associations.

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I have only recently began using plaid in my work.  It started as a suggestion from a friend and I ran with it.  The more I research it, the more I enjoy using it much for the same reason I use lace. Its broad spectrum of use and associations from historic family tartans, to the lumberjack, to the school girl leave so much room for interpretation

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“Plaid Mug” featured in The Cup, The Mug exhibition

I use Laguna Dark Brown boxed clay. I start out with a simple slab built cylinder.  I slip and score the seam and use the overlap as part of my design instead of smoothing it out.

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When the cylinder is formed I use it as a template to cut out a rough circle for the bottom.

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Thick slip is painted over lace on the slab that is going to be the inside bottom of the mug.

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When the slip is no longer tacky, I peel away the lace.

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The bottom of the cylinder is slipped and scored and carefully attached to the bottom.

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The excess slip around the edges is wiped away and the remaining clay is pushed up against the cylinder creating a lip around the bottom.  The basic cylinder shape is gently formed into a softer edged form.

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I use a rubber tipped tool to divide the surface into an area that will have lace added to it.  The area without the lace is pushed out slightly more from the inside.

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Again, thick slip is painted over lace and allowed to sit until it is no longer tacky.

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The lace is peeled away and any excess slip is wiped away with a rubber tipped tool.  I use a drill bit to remove clay so that the stitches are recessed into the clay and not just sitting on top.

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Small coils are rolled out and pressed into the holes to create the stitches.

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When the clay dry, I sketch out a (very) rough plaid pattern.

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Three coats of underglaze are applied, then it is bisque fired to cone 08.

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After bisque firing, a clear or celadon glaze is applied on the interior.  The lace and stitches are waxed and a clear glaze is applied over the outside.  I then fire to cone 10 in reduction.

My plaid cups are still in their early stages of experimentation and development, but I am excited to see what they grow into from here.  You can find me and my work on Instagram @toberninejilly or on my website at www.jilliancooper.com


Stop by Main Street Arts to see the mug shown above by Jillian Cooper in our current exhibition “The Cup, The Mug: A National Juried Exhibition of Drinking Vessels” (juried by ceramic artist Peter Pincus, exhibition runs through January 6th). 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Cat Clay: Pop Vintage

Cat Clay’s work is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. Their work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


Cat Clay was founded by Clifton Wood, a gorgeous calico who stepped on a rainbow the same day as Prince.

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Miss Clifton Wood

She has been reincarnated as the Dalai Kitten, Miss Beckett. The sole employee of Cat Clay is Sabra, who also doubles as a mediocre kitten servant.

Our studio was founded 10 years ago, after taking classes at Genesee Pottery and RIT, as well as working alongside Stephen Merritt & Richard Aerni. We are located in the historic Hungerford Building in Rochester, New York. Cat Clay’s cozy studio has all the usual components: wheel, slab roller, kiln, display shelves. Plus an executive gym for Beckett.

Cat Clay studio

Cat Clay studio

We make functional pottery and sculpture, and are best known for our mug shot mugs.

David Bowie mugshot mug

David Bowie mugshot mug

And this time of year, we make ornaments – lots & lots of ornaments. With critical quality control being provided by senior management.

Quality control of ornaments by Miss Beckett Wood

Quality control of ornaments by Miss Beckett Wood

The other mainstay of our studio is Pop Vintage, where we transform vintage china into pieces that appeal to a new generation of collectors. This is done by designing an image with pop references, applying it to the china, then re-firing it in the kiln.

The first step in creating a Pop Vintage piece is to buy vintage china. A lot of vintage china. 6 shelving units of vintage china. Too much china? A lot of our friends are enablers, acting as pickers – keeping a lookout when they go thrifting or to estate sales.

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When we bring home a new pattern, we test it for lead – both to meet federal regulations, and to be sure our kiln is not contaminated and fuming lead on everything that’s fired in it.

Once we pass that hurdle, the guess work begins: how hot was the glaze fired on the vintage china?

If under-fired, the image isn’t melted enough into the surface of the glaze and will rub off. If over-fired, the image will disappear. Or bloating can happen, so that the piece looks like it has the plague, like poor Mr. Sloth (pictured below). Or even worse, the piece can melt down, turning into a lava flow in the kiln, and taking out everything in its path. Most of our vintage china is successfully re-fired to a point from 1900-2300 degrees – and a mere 50 degree difference can spell success or failure.

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Even if we guess correctly, there may be a defect in the piece that isn’t visible until after the firing. Soup saves lives, but it couldn’t save the invisible crack that grew in the kiln.

Bowl cracked during firing

Bowl cracked during firing

When we started making pop vintage, about 3 out of 10 pieces were successful. But we fell in love with those successes and kept plugging away. Now, given a new china pattern by an unknown maker, we guess correctly about 70% of the time.

And our images? We design them using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.  Sometimes current events inspire a design, such as our St. Bowie ornament, where we added renaissance wings and halo.

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Other times, we incorporate  lots of vintage illustrations with a snarky twist, to make the bridge from vintage to pop. For Valentine’s Day, we’ll couple an old print of cutlery and pair it with the caption, “Spooning leads to forking”. Or take a vintage cupid, and substitute an AK47 for the bow and arrow, with the added words, “Love hurts”.

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Then comes marrying the image to a specific piece of china, taking into account how the china’s colors will change from the kiln’s heat. And adjusting the contrast of the image so that it pairs well with the vintage glaze characteristics.

Once that’s done, we  re-size the image for the specific china, print it on special paper that creates a water-slide decal, cut it out, soak it in water and apply it to the plate. At this point, the decal is a stark black. A design may be a simple one-image decal. Or there can be over 20 individual decals that are hand-placed on one object.

Plates with images, before firing

Plates with images, before firing

Now it’s time to carefully pack up everything, load it in the car and take it to the kiln at the studio.

The kiln will fire for 8-12 hours and cool for 16 hours before we can unload it. And at the end, if all has gone well, we have a Pop Vintage piece. The decal image is now a warm sepia, and the original colors of the vintage china have softened.

"Surrender, Soviet Shark Subs"

“Surrender, Soviet Shark Subs”

Want to see more of our work? Look no further than Main Street Arts, which carries our Pop Vintage year round. Or check us out on Instagram: @cat.clay. And feel free to visit the studio – we’re there a lot!

In our spare time, we host Graphic Ear, a radio show on WAYO 104.3.

Our radio show on WAYO 104.3

Our radio show on WAYO 104.3

Each Thursday at 6pm, we have a visual artist as our guest, and talk about their life & work and play the music their favorite music. And we’ve had members of the Main Street Arts on – both Bradley Butler and Melissa Huang!

Bradley Butler on Graphic Ear

Bradley Butler on Graphic Ear


 

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Cat Clay’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Sabra and Beckett’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com. and in our physical gallery shop.