Interview with Deborah Britt - Spotlight, January 2012

Interview with ceramic artist Deborah Britt - Spotlight, January 2012

→ Subscribe to our monthly newsletter if you want to receive news and interviews with ceramic artists.
→ The full interview with Deborah Britt is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You are in this field for more than ten years now; when exactly did it all start? Tell us how you discovered the passion for ceramics.

Deborah Britt: My passion for ceramics came rather late. Having been born and raised on a farm in Northwest Missouri, far away from big city influences, exposure to the arts was minimal. Art classes in my small-town school were non-existent past grade school—with a student body of 60 students in grades 1 through 12, resources were focused on the practical skills and knowledge essential to a farming community.

My interest in the arts began in college, where I was first exposed to fine arts through an Art Appreciation course. After earning a degree in Business, and subsequently a Masters Degree, I was firmly entrenched in the corporate world. The spark that ignited my interest in art, however, continued to smolder, but it wasn’t until I witnessed a wheel-throwing demonstration at a local art fair that my desire to delve into clay became real. After 13 years in business, I returned to school with a whole-hearted desire to master the art and craft of clay, ultimately earning a BFA degree in Ceramics. I have never looked back.


Deborah Britt Pottery -Ceramics

Blue Pitcher Set, 8” x 13”, Wheel-Thrown and Altered, Salt-Fired Porcelain with Slip and Glaze Decoration, Cone Ten, 2011 - View Deborah Britt’s works

You are mostly creating pottery pieces. How would you explain your attraction for functional ceramics?

I was initially attracted to the wheel. Learning to throw basic utilitarian forms was a joy to me.  The tactile sensation of wet clay is so seductive! However, there are some ideas that cannot be conveyed by functional pots, thus I also do sculptural work. I like the idea of making work that is approachable both on an intimate and intellectual level.
Making functional work appeals to the part of me that wants to connect personally with the user. I love the idea that the work will be handled, and I strive to make work that goes beyond the basic utilitarian form. In other words, I strive to make the work “special” for the user, in an effort to elevate the mundane, e.g., drinking a cup of tea, into the conscious enjoyment of the daily ritual, rather than a routine act.

I love to play with form, so even in my functional work I like to bring in a sculptural sensibility. The functional and sculptural forms play off each other—one idea leads to the next—so for me, the back and forth of sculptural vs. functional is essential.

—- The full interview will be featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two.


There is a remarkable touch of sensibility in your decorations. Tell us more about how you decorate and where do you get inspiration from.

I am intrigued by the fact that we as humans are so connected to the earth, from the food we eat to the ceramic cup we drink from. I am drawn to relatively matte surfaces, perhaps because of their tactile nature or maybe because of their relationship to nature itself.

I want the clay to look like clay, and have been drawn to the salt firing process because of the ability to let the beauty of the clay body speak for itself as it fuses with salt. The element of surprise that arises from firing to firing with the phenomenon of flashing and variation of salt distribution has always held great interest for me.

Read More

Interview with Kathy Pallie - New artist, January 2012

Interview with ceramic artist Kathy Pallie - New artist, January 2012

→ Subscribe to our monthly newsletter if you want to receive news and interviews with ceramic artists.
→ The full interview with Kathy Pallie will be featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: When and how did you discover the passion for ceramics?

Kathy Pallie: Growing up, I was always the artsy-craftsy one, making things out of all different kinds of materials, using lots of different techniques. I loved going to my Dad’s office in New York City where they produced display products/props used in retail store windows and interior displays. To me, it was a magical, fantasy industry.
Though I never had art classes in high school, I decided that art would be my major in college. As a first year art student, I was introduced to clay. I immediately loved the tactile sense of working with clay and creating 3-dimensional objects.

My interest in clay took a back seat to advertising design which was my major within the art curriculum. This was followed by a very exciting career in commercial art designing decorative and functional display products for the retail stores, exhibit world and point-of-purchase industries. Most of these products were 3-dimensional, large scale and fabricated from a variety of materials. It was always exciting and challenging to work with materials that had totally different commercial uses and to create products from them that were applicable to the display field. Much of this was done in foreign countries working with cottage industries, sometimes sitting on the ground outdoors with chickens and roosters strutting by.  

Years later, when I retired and put my hands back into clay, I realized that this was a material that really excited and intrigued me, and one I had to explore in depth. I was hooked! My “clay play days” took over. Now instead of designing products that had to be marketable or meet a client’s design criteria, this was just me, the clay, and the creative process and didn’t need anyone else’s approval. I played with clay with a childlike approach, investigating, experimenting, and learning, as much and as fast as I could.  

Kathy Pallie Ceramics

The 4 Elements – Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, Earthenware, glazes, 18”H x 14” Diameter, 2011 - View Kathy Pallie’s works

Tell us more about your creative process. Where do you get inspiration from and how do you find the journey towards the final outcome?

My inspiration comes from just living and observing and being receptive to what is going on around me. I’ve always been inspired by the unlimited variety of textures, patterns, and energy found in nature. I love to be outdoors skiing, hiking, swimming, watching the changing light patterns from dawn to sunset, seeing flowers bloom and leaves unfurl. I’ll often take photos for reference, pick up pieces of bark to experience the sensation of the surface texture, and closely observe different patterns and details. I interpret my reaction to these things in clay. Though many of my artworks have a trompe l’oeil effect, I am not trying to mimic Nature. Rather, I try to bring the essence of what I have experienced in the outdoors into interior spaces.

Once in the studio, the clay often seems to have a life of its own as it leads me, morphing from one form and concept to another. On other occasions, I can envision the completed piece before even touching the clay.

— The full interview will be featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two.

Read More

Interview with Blaine Avery - Spotlight, November 2011

Interview with ceramic artist Blaine Avery - Spotlight, November 2011

→ Subscribe to our monthly newsletter if you want to receive news and interviews with ceramic artists.
→ The full interview with Blaine Avery is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One / Winter 2011-2012.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You’ve been working with ceramics for over twenty years now. Do you remember your first works? How did you evolved in time?

Blaine Avery: It has been just over 20 years since I stated in the field of ceramics. I remember my first works very well I know at every point in my career I strived to produce the best possible work I could, going against any business plan and striving to be the best artist I could. I threw away many of my works because in my opinion they just did not meet the mark. I felt it better to show and sell only what I felt was the finest quality I could produce at any point of my development as an artist. My first works were refined shapes as I was trying to get to the root of the form. Most were based on early american folk pottery that of, Edgefield South Carolina, Central North Carolina stonewares and slip trailed earthen wares.

These first works were simply glazed or left unglazed and fired in a wood-fired salt glazing kiln. In my early work I wasn’t ready to decorate the surface, I was only concerned with the root of the form; once I felt that I had achieved mastery of this, only then was I able to begin to think of working with surface design, by adding patterns a zoomorphic imagery. However, some forms still call me to show their true essence.

Blaine Avery Ceramics - Ceramics Now Magazine

Dancing turtle platter (salt glazed, local clay, hand painted slip, glaze) - View Blaine’s works

You work with great delicacy when using patterns and symbols of ancient cultures on your works. How do you choose these patterns?

I first began looking at my surroundings, taking patters and imagery from nature. So much inspiration can be found in nature, if you just pay attention to its rhythm and symmetry. With other designs I do look back on many cultures, taking from them what I feel is relevant to me in this time and place. I first started looking at early American ceramics of the 1600’s forward, than from there I began studying pre-Columbian ceramics and folk art from around the world. There is a common thread that links all ancient cultures, a trueness and simplicity that I feel drawn to. I also study textile patterns for many ideas as in nature there is a rhythm, a symmetry and a repetition that calls to me. Sometimes, I take only one small part of a pattern and cover the pot with it, repeating the process over and over; repetition can be very powerful if done correctly.

Read More

Interview with Connie Norman - Spotlight, November 2011

Interview with ceramic artist Connie Norman - Spotlight, November 2011

→ Subscribe to our monthly newsletter if you want to receive news and interviews with ceramic artists.
→ The full interview with Connie Norman is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One / Winter 2011-2012.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: Text and pattern is seen everywhere on your works; they make a fantastic rhythm and enhance the forms. When did you start to use text on your works?

Connie Norman: My current style using text started years ago when I was making mixed media sculptures that were mostly clay integrating text. I gave myself the challenge to make something esthetically pleasing. What I wanted to do was -to be able to tell a story with pots. I suddenly had the revelation of incorporating the text onto my pots. But it is very ironic that I use words on my work, because I have always struggled with writing. And I still do! When I was working in sculpture I only used single words, but now I have expanded to phrases. 

You recently came home from Ethiopia. What did you experience there? Tell us your impressions.

My journey to Ethiopia started approximately four years ago, when my husband and I started the adoption process for our son Vander. In 2009 our permanent relationship with the country of Ethiopia started, we traveled to Addis Ababa, to pick up our son. As the days, months and years went by; I realized I wanted to give back to the country that gave us our son. I started looking for a way to go back to Ethiopia and volunteer. I went to Ethiopia this past July for three weeks. I worked with three organizations, One Child Campaign, Vision on Africa and Mission Ethiopia.
Connie Norman working with Tigist, the master potter of Vision on Africa.I worked with women to help restore their dignity who are HIV positive and who have leprosy, and women who are destitute. Through the language of clay we were able to communicate, laugh and be with each other without a common language.
The women of Mission Ethiopia are HIV positive and suffer from leprosy; these women are considered outcasts and unemployable. Women like these and their children, spend their days searching the garbage dumps for food. Now, these women make pit fired beads, which are fired on the ground in an open fire.Currently they are able to feed their children and themselves.

I sat with the women much like an old fashioned quilting circle, they showed me how to roll the beads in my palm and decorate each bead. While we were making beads their children ran in, out and played outside with meager toys like old tires, but were always smiling. 
Vision of Africa is an organization that is helping destitute women in many diverse ways, they provide medical care for mothers and children are educated on contraceptives, sponsorship programs of orphans, and of course they train women to be potters. Ceramics in Ethiopia is a very hands’ on process  I was asked to help the women with their production process, but I felt like I learned more from them, than they learned from me. Tigist, the master potter gently guides the women from mixing the clay they collect from other regions of Ethiopia, to hand building bowls, vases, spice cellars, and coffee pots, and much more. While I was there, Tigist did a pit fire with me. I was amazed at her skill; she laid the green pots near the fire and slowly moved them into the fire ring. Then just like in American raku, she threw the pots in some dried leaves for a post reduction process. 

Connie Norman in Ethiopia with boys from one of the orphanages in Addis

"Me in Ethiopia with boys from one of the orphanages in Addis Ababa.  I caught my frist chicken."

Read More

Interview with Arthur Gonzalez, Front-cover of Issue One and Artist of the month - October 2011

Interview with Arthur Gonzalez, front-cover of Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One
Artist of the month, October 2011

→ Subscribe to our monthly newsletter if you want to receive news and interviews with ceramic artists.
→ The full interview with Arthur Gonzalez is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One / Winter 2011-2012.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You are one of the most assiduous ceramic artists in the world, with hundreds of exhibitions over more than thirty years. Why did you choose this career path?

Arthur Gonzalez: If by career path you mean, “why did I choose to be an artist?” I was one of those guys who always knew that they wanted to be an artist. I honestly cannot remember a time that I did not draw. I remember drawing in kindergarten. I took my first oil painting class with my mother at age 7. I identified with being an artist my whole life so the path was “written on the wall” so to speak. Also, times were different thirty years ago when I graduated from UC Davis. The word “career” was subject to interpretation. I remember that all I wanted to do once I graduated was to do whatever I needed to do to keep making art without needing to work a “regular” job. This was a huge factor, because if one wants to make art their whole life they need to be creative in terms of how to do that. As a consequence, I learned how to make a career instead of only making a lot of things.

Arthur Gonzalez Contemporary Ceramics - Interview Ceramics Now MagazineEverything, 2007, ceramic, glaze, rope, blown glass, ink, epoxy, gold leaf, gut, pollen, 40”x42”x12 - View Arthur Gonzalez’s works

When did you realize that ceramic art was important for you?

My relationship with ceramics has always been a double-edged sword, because I originally didn’t identify with ceramics or sculpture. In the beginning, I used clay to make a better painting!

My formal undergraduate art education at American River College in Sacramento and later California State University was as a photo-realist painter, this was the art movement of the time and all my teachers were photo-realists. I, although formally trained with all the exactitude and precision of a realist, was extremely frustrated. I wanted my paintings to be more expressionistic, spontaneous and “rule breaking”, but the training and dictum of “painting the right way” was so hardwired that I needed to change the very physicality of the painting’s object-ness. I realized that when addressing the white geometric canvas, specifically when the paintbrush approached the edge of the canvas, my gestures would be stilted and choked. I was too intimidated by its rigidity. I remember thinking that if I was too influenced by the edge, then I needed to change that edge.

Meanwhile, at California State University, at the opposite side of campus from the painting lab, was the ceramic department. Two of the professors there were Peter Vandenberge and Robert Brady, both were UC Davis alumni and former students of Robert Arneson. It was by watching them make their clay sculpture and witnessing the ways that they both treated the clay as a mud that did their bidding, that first attracted me to it. This was an epiphanous moment. I remember thinking that clay was the perfect replacement for canvas on stretcher bars. Upon returning to my studio, I slung a number of clay slabs and stretched them on the floor and then fired them, resulting in “bisque canvases” of non-geometric shapes, like a stack of so many pancakes. Then, using oil paint, I reacted to the silhouette of the shape by painting-in imagery that would co-relate to the swells and dips of the randomly shaped ceramic slabs. In my eyes, clay was a remedy not a historical material.  Ironically, I later dispassionately applied to graduate school at UC Davis to study ceramics sculpture under Robert Arneson knowing that I was competing against real ceramic artists who knew more about clay than slinging slabs, which literally was all I knew! It was those first experiments with oil paintings on ceramic slabs that got me into graduate school. My education of clay as a material didn’t start until my time with Robert Arneson. The one thing that I loved about clay was how I now could make things that could distance me from the confines of oil on canvas and, as a result, lifting the weight of the ‘History of Painting’ off my shoulders. When I thought of ceramics, I didn’t see “History” or “Tradition” or “right and wrong”. In fact, I didn’t even think of it as “ceramics”, I thought of it as clay that you made hard. To me the material was only material, and because I came to it through the back door it represented to me to be absolute freedom, a kind of sanctuary from the rules of painting and, as a result, pure invention.

Read More

Interview with Ian Shelly, Ceramic Installation - October 2011

Interview with ceramic artist Ian Shelly - Ceramic Installation, October 2011

→ Subscribe to our monthly newsletter if you want to receive news and interviews with ceramic artists.
→ The full interview with Ian Shelly is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One, Winter 2011-2012.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You’re a very prolific artist, with lots of exhibitions, lectures and workshops being held in the last years. How do you find the time needed for all of this? Do you also teach?

Ian Shelly: Thank you for the considering me prolific, that is an adjective that has been used before to describe not only the breadth and quantity of what I do and what I call “My” art but a diagnosis that I find most properly describes my unyielding need to make. I don’t know how to make art any other way…never have. I think that the only way to find the time to work “prolifically” is by making the best out of all the other tasks that you do. Be it exhibiting, lecturing, and teaching workshops. All of these moments and all of the moments not making provide us with a unique opportunity to think, plan and daydream. I need my time spent talking about other artists to think of how I am different. I also need my time as a Sunday afternoon mechanic fixing things around the house to remind my brain that my hands like moving this way or that. All of this activity then tells my wallet what kind of clay and glaze I need to use to keep my brain and hands satisfied. My brain still cannot keep up with my hands.
The teaching that I also do is like a buffet. In some ways it provides me with necessary exercises that a growing artist needs to flourish. It also provides me with a multitude of materials and technologies to further understand the science and dexterity needed for ceramics. I find one of the most helpful aspects of teaching to be the communication development. When I started in education, I couldn’t walk a person through making a paper airplane, and now, through all of the practice I can teach all kinds of different styles of airplanes. Most importantly, I, myself, make a better airplane. This has been very helpful. Inevitably though, if you do too much, like any buffet…it isn’t healthy.

Ian Shelly Contemporary ceramic installation

Playtime (detail) - View his works

Like the system and language of chemistry, your works behave like an equation, trying to connect human relationships. Tell us about the process of constructing a new work, from sketch to firing.

This is a great question. One that I believe all artists answer differently at different times in their careers and lives. My works attempt to answer relationship equations in the final product but also in the process in which they are made. Like I say in just about every artist statement and writing I do, I see my art making and general studio process as a living, breathing, eating, growing and even more important, a mutating organism. One that is fed helpful amounts of media then distilled and filtered clumsily through screens made of new materials and techniques. Like any healthy science project, random samples are taken to ensure the highest quality of homogenization and communication. At times it is absolutely similar to a chemical equation made of compounds and bonds, but one that is never ending, moving and ultimately insolvable.
Ian Shelly Contemporary ceramic installationI am sure that we all do things like these in our pursuits to make art. For me, I believe it is important to keep the theme and scenarios of my project in mind. In the case of this work, the themes are systematic and a-systematic routines of study and classification. I think what you may be asking is whether or not I start with sketches and end in a fired ceramic work that installs in a viewing space. Of course I do. However, it rarely follows the paths that I see my colleagues using. Sometimes I wish it did, because I wonder if I would be more productive with someone else’s art routine.
The journey that my work follows often begins with an accidental gluing of one thing to another and after a very calculated series of profanity and failures, what you see is my work…in all of it’s sticky, gooey, orb-ness.

What is your present project? Tell us about it.

Read More

Interview with Ian F. Thomas, Ceramic Installation - October 2011

Interview with ceramic artist Ian F. Thomas - Ceramic Installation, October 2011

→ Subscribe to our monthly newsletter if you want to receive news and interviews with ceramic artists.
→ The full interview is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One, Winter 2011-2012.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You are a very creative artist, working with large scale installations, ceramic objects, sculptures, vessels and various drawings. When do you have time to transpose all your emotions and ideas into them?

Ian F. Thomas: Thank you. I obsess about ideas. My methodology for making, for creating, has me developing many works at the same time, not just in the beginning phases, the thought process, but also during the construction phase. Mold making, throwing, painting, welding, drawing, functional, non-functional—everything that happens, it all develops simultaneously. I enjoy working right up to, and, sometimes, past my limit. I view making work on all of these different platforms, using different materials, and incorporating as many ideas as I can ideas in the same way that I see conversations. Each day I have vastly different types of conversations with many different people; from humorous to serious, political to chit chat and minutiae. When an idea surfaces, the process may demand a particular size, finish, or material. Following the concept and its needs supersedes the necessity of conforming to a particular style or material. 

As a father of two, husband and professor, it is difficult to manage time. My wife, Lori, who is not an artist, has an amazing tolerance for the creatively obsessed mind. If it were not for her support, I would never find the time to work on so many projects. Working with clay, I can take advantage of the timing/drying constraints, and toggle between works, maximizing my available studio time. I have also recently taken on an assistant, Eli Blasko, to help better manage my time so that I can focus more in the studio.

Ian F Thomas Contemporary Ceramic Installation Art

Di-analytic Variables - View Ian F. Thomas’ works
Wheel-thrown, altered, hand-built, earthenware, electric fired cone 02, steel, paint, gold leaf / 38x37x30 inches, 40 lbs

How do you see this relationship between idea/intuition and the final work itself? Is it always continuous or sometimes gap comes through?

The final work is an entity all of its own. An idea starts the work and then intuition supports that idea during the development of the piece. I keep true to a cautious respect for the moment. While I’m in the process of working, my intuition may shift the work’s original intentions, or trigger a new idea(s) that can rearrange the work while I’m still in the process of making it. My idea can fluctuate as much as the physical object I’m making. Using this method, gaps occurs naturally and when that happens, I embrace that.

Read More

Interview with Antonella Cimatti, Spotlight - October 2011

Interview with Italian ceramic artist Antonella Cimatti - Spotlight - Recognized artist, October 2011

→ Subscribe to our monthly newsletter if you want to receive news and interviews with ceramic artists.
→ The full interview with Antonella Cimatti is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One / Winter 2011-2012.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You are a very consequent artist, having worked with ceramics all your career. Why did you embark on this journey?

Antonella Cimatti: I was born in Faenza, I studied in Faenza at the “Ballardini” Art Institute and I have been teaching at this same school for over 30 years. It has just been so natural to work with this material in this city, because it’s so well known throughout the world for its ceramics.

The techniques and subjects you are approaching are very different - paperclay, fibre optic installations and low temperature. Working with so many different materials may be difficult, how do you manage to combine them?

Well, I come from Italy, a country where the artists feel the weight of our history and ceramic traditions, but where there are also many new influences from the world of design and fashion!

In fact, in the last few years, in the design and fashion sectors there has been a notable trend regarding lightness and attention to detail, which is so incredibly in line with my way of being and working.

I believe that the greatest undertaking of the artist is that of professional maintenance. As a matter of fact, along with spontaneous creativity, you indissolubly must add an elevated professional competence regarding technique; through reading and observation, the joy of experimentation, of combining, and of moving forward.

Antonella Cimatti Contemporary Ceramics

Trame di luce (Weft of Light), detail, 2008 - View Antonella Cimatti’s works
Installation with translucent porcelain paperclay, fibre optics and handbuilt  flowers in glazed porcelain, temp. 1250°C.
Exhibited at the 54th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennial, in the Italian Pavilion, for the Emilia Romagna Region. Photographed by Bernardo Ricci

Your attention to detail makes your paperclay works unique and pure within their shadows. Tell us about the constructing process.

I’ll tell you how you can, while having an idea in mind, transform and tame my technique. 
My way of working is not traditional. My objective is to create a lightness in ceramics- not only regarding weight but also visually. I need to discover the right combination of materials in order to obtain the results you see.

Read More

Interview with Fujita Toshiaki - Japanese lacquer artist, Keiko Gallery

Interview with Fujita Toshiaki - Japanese lacquer artist represented by Keiko Gallery, October 2011

The special feature in partnership with Keiko Gallery includes interviews with 10 Japanese artists represented by Keiko, and many images with their works.

→ This interview is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One, Winter 2011-2012.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: Not many people know that lacquer is used to make art pieces. Can you tell us more about this material and how do you use it?

Fujita Toshiaki: The Urushi tree (Rhus Vernicifera) is a member of the sumac family of trees, found in various parts of Asia. The trees produce the sap which has been used as the coating and the adhesive material in Japan more than 9000 years. A poisonous substance when in liquid form (causing skin irritation), it becomes non-toxic on hardening and is waterproof and acid-proof. There are some examples that Native American use the sap of sumac, poison ivy or oak with the same purposes.

Fujita Toshiaki Japanese Lacquer art - Ceramics NowThe season for harvesting sap is from June to October, and an Urushi tree must be between 8 to 13 years old before it is mature enough to produce only one cup of sap. The sap, an opaque light brown color, oozes from the slashes on the trunk, and it’s carefully scraped with a special tool; after this procces the sap is called Arami-Urushi. The Sap is stirred and carefully heated to equalize its components and remove excess fluid. Those Urushi is called Sugurome-Urushi or Kijiro-Urushi and used as the coating material for the upper layers.

The drying system of Urushi is very different from other painting materials. Drying Urushi means to be harden. The laccase enzyme reacts in Urusiol which is hardening constituent and initiates a chemical reaction: oxidation polymerization. To increase the activity of the chemical reaction, the ideal temperature is 77F and the moisture set to 80%. That means if the air is too dry, the lacquer never gets dry.

I focused on this characteristic drying system on Urushi and pursued to create the sculptures called layered forms. I daringly remove other elements in Urushi crafts, because they might interrupt my essential concept for my layered form series. However to understand what is lacquer or lacquer art, I should not deal with only unusual dying systems of Urushi, but also should focus on the traditional techniques, because sometimes we can find the answer in the techniques which were sophisticated and established by our forefathers. For the reason, I worked hard to acquire techniques like woodwork, dry-lacquer, colorings, coatings and decorations.

Read More

Interview with Kawabata Kentaro - Japanese ceramic artist, Keiko Gallery

Interview with Kawabata Kentaro - Japanese ceramic artist represented by Keiko Gallery, October 2011

The special feature in partnership with Keiko Gallery includes interviews with 10 Japanese artists represented by Keiko, and many images with their works.

→ This interview is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One, Winter 2011-2012.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You were among the first contemporary Japanese artists to combine ceramics and glass when constructing a new work. How did you start to connect these materials?

Kawabata Kentaro: I wanted to to extract the ingredients from the glaze and embed them into the clay. For example, I tried to use fragments of smashed glass bottles, feldspar, silica stone and beachsand in my white porcelain works, and I did that by mixing these fragments with the glaze. I also wanted to observe the chemical reactions between those materials and the clear glaze after the firing. Throughout these experiences, I was fascinated about the harmony of the different kinds of translucency between glass and white porcelain. I also love touching the unfired clay with bits of glass inserted into it, and I want to get the similar feeling after the firing. I want to constantly develop my work, so I am still looking for new glazes and new kinds of glass as well as interesting materials which go well with my style of work.

Kawabata Kentaro Japanese Ceramics - Contemporary Ceramics Magazine

Batista, 2011, Glazed clay, glass, silver, 26” x 18” x 12 1/2”. Photo by Taku Saiki - View his works


What is your present project and how do you make the pieces? Tell us more about the process.

Now I am trying to construct a few sculptures using slip casting. After making several different kinds of plaster casts, I connect them. I use my original technique in my newest works, which consists in applying small clay balls and sand on the surface.

Read More

Interview with Jorie Johnson - Textile artist, Keiko Gallery

Interview with Jorie Johnson (Joi Rae) - Textile artist represented by Keiko Gallery, October 2011

The special feature in partnership with Keiko Gallery includes interviews with 10 Japanese artists represented by Keiko, and many images with their works.

→ This interview is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One, Winter 2011-2012.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: From functional, to decorative or aesthetical, your works also vary in techniques and materials. Tell us about your woolen felt creations.

Jorie Johnson: I am drawn to the painterly and sculptural characteristics of feltmaking with its broad capabilities as a “hard textile” but which also lends itself to soft, sensual body wraps.  I like the challenge of completing a work that functions in a practical way as well as becoming an object of aesthetic value. Unlike weaving, each felt piece is disconnected from the next,  so in that way, a seamless, three-dimensional vessel, hat or bag may remind us more of a ceramic form than a textile.

The essential material of wool comes from sheep which grow new fleeces each year and which have served mankind in very isolated regions of the world. I love the natural color of wool, as well as, the possibility to blend it with other fibers, to dye the wool or to over dye a completed piece and manipulate its’ shape through this procedure. Now with years of practice I can approach a work from different angles, theorizing which method works best for an expected results, but while shaping and finishing I am on the alert to pick up on a characteristic born through the process that I never figured on. This spontaneity keeps things very interesting.

Jorie Johnson Textile works - Joi Rae on Ceramics Now Magazine

Jorie Johnson Spring Collection 2011 (beret, vest, skirt, neck wraps), wool, novelty yarn, silk fabric, linen lace fabric, silk cord. Photo by Toyoda Yuzo - View her works

You are using many layering techniques. Can you explain the process of making a new piece? How long does it take?

The matrix of the work is hard to see by the naked eye but while the selected wool fibers start their migration progress they entangle and actually pierce and consume auxiliary materials such as Japanese Washi, silk organza, cotton gauze, skeletal leaves, lace and so on, into the surface of the fabric and become an integral part of the finished fabric we call as FELT. Under optimal conditions (increase in humidity, higher temperatures, change in pH, application of agitation, etc.) and using a selection of different sheep breeds a variety of fabrics result from dense, coarse carpet weight to silky merino blends for sensual neck wraps.

In order to achieve fine fabrics I use many thin layers of carded wool but for the loftier carpets I use coarser wool in thicker layers. Once the design and materials are selected and the shrink factor determined I work as swiftly as possible to complete a piece within a few days as not to cause the wet wool and auxiliary materials to begin to break down.  I have to commit to a “work swipe” as I call it, not to damage the wool, silk or other materials by keeping them wet for too long.

Read More

Interview with Tanoue Shinya - Japanese ceramic artist, Keiko Gallery

Interview with Tanoue Shinya - Japanese ceramic artist represented by Keiko Gallery, October 2011

The special feature in partnership with Keiko Gallery includes interviews with 10 Japanese artists represented by Keiko, and many images with their works.

→ The interviews will be published in the first printed issue of Ceramics Now Magazine. Pre-order Issue nr. 1 - Winter 2011-2012 or subscribe for one year.

Ceramics Now Magazine : What was the starting point in your investigation with ceramics? Do you remember your early works?

Tanoue Shinya: When I was a student of Theology at the Doshisha University, I also belonged to the ceramic club. I was just absorbed to make something with clay in the club’s room. I worked for some textile company for two years after the graduation, and I entered Kyoto Saga Art College because I wanted to learn more throwing techniques. I remember the pieces I made in the college very well. The pieces I’ve made in my freshman year are the origins of my current series.

Tanoue Shinya Japanese Ceramics - Contemporary Ceramics Magazine

KARA-10: Fu- a, 2010, Glazed clay, 7” x 26” x 4 1/2” (h) - View his works

Your works may be simple, but the details, the lines and curves of your works are very sinuous. Tell us about how do you construct your pieces.

After creating the vessel or sculpture’s shape with coil techniques, the slip is applied on the surface. And then I groove the surface with needles one by one and at the end I rub iron into those grooves.

The important theme of my pieces is the shell - egg shells, shells of fruits or seashells, because they are deeply related to the normal circles of life. The cobalt blue in the pieces represent the ocean, which is the origin of life on Earth.  The wombs are consideres to be the shell of human beings, so if I could express in my pieces the memories of leaving the wombs (leaving forever the protective and comfortable feeling), it would be wonderful.

Read More

Interview with Niisato Akio - Japanese ceramic artist, Keiko Gallery

Interview with Niisato Akio - Japanese ceramic artist represented by Keiko Gallery, October 2011

The special feature in partnership with Keiko Gallery includes interviews with 10 Japanese artists represented by Keiko, and many images with their works.

→ The interviews will be published in the first printed issue of Ceramics Now Magazine. Pre-order Issue nr. 1 - Winter 2011-2012 or subscribe for one year.

Ceramics Now Magazine : You are about to start working as artist in residence at the Harvard Ceramic Studio. What do you hope you’ll learn from this experience?

Niisato Akio: I am very interested in the different perspectives on craft art, especially Ceramics between US and Japan. I feel that the vessels are more appreciated in Japan rather than US, as well as the ceramic art itself. I would like to know why and I will research on these issues during my stay at Harvard. I am looking forward to seeing new people who will give me a lots of inspiration.

Niisato Akio Japanese Ceramics

Luminous Vessel, 2008, Glazed porcelain, 5” x 5” x 10” - View his works

Ceramics Now Magazine: The lightness and pureness of your works makes them unique. Tell us more about how do you make them.

Niisato Akio: White is a simple color, but it can express the subtle nuance between sensibility/ pureness and lights/ shadows.

After I throw the pieces, they are razed as thin as possible, and then I drill the holes with an electric drill, one by one.

After the firing, I sand the surfaces and the glaze is applied manually into the holes. Another glaze is applied all over the surfaces with a compressor and then the pieces go into the kiln at 2246(F). It is not so easy to make the smooth surface with a single firing, because the holes absorb the glaze very easily, so they need to be fired two or three times to get a nice result.

Niisato Akio Japanese Ceramics - Ceramics Now Magazine

Luminous Form, 2008, Glazed porcelain, 12” x 8 1/2” - View his works

Read More

Interview with Murata Yoshihiko - Japanese lacquer artist, Keiko Gallery

Interview with Murata Yoshihiko - Japanese lacquer artist represented by Keiko Gallery, October 2011

The special feature in partnership with Keiko Gallery includes interviews with 10 Japanese artists represented by Keiko, and many images with their works.

→ The interviews will be published in the first printed issue of Ceramics Now Magazine. Pre-order Issue nr. 1 - Winter 2011-2012 or subscribe for one year.

Ceramics Now Magazine : You are a very young and talented artist. What was your first experience with art and with lacquer?

Murata Yoshihiko: I wasn’t exposed to the arts that much and didn’t know about Japanese lacquer work very well until I entered the art collage. I was interested in design and woodwork working and wanted to make the furniture for our daily life when I was a teenager. When I was a sophomore student, I choose the Urushi department for my major, but it was something uncomfortable for me. At first, I made many chaotic pieces, however those pieces are supposed to be an origin of my work today.

Murata Yoshihiko Japanese Lacquer art on Ceramics Now Magazine

Silhouette-02, 2010, Maple wood, lacquer, 8” x 2 3/4” x 1 1/2” - View his works

Your works have an extraordinary sense of space and light, their shadows contrasting with the colors and the surroundings. How do you make these fantastic lines of dark? It has to do with the slim silhouettes of your works.

I simulate the three dimensional shapes in my mind, for example, how lines will be flowing or how they are placed on the pedestals or attached on the walls. I believe that only lines which look beautiful from any angles can make the lithe and sharp silhouette.

Read More

Interview with Hayashi Shigeki - Japanese ceramic artist, Keiko Gallery

Interview with Hayashi Shigeki - Japanese ceramic artist represented by Keiko Gallery, October 2011

The special feature in partnership with Keiko Gallery includes interviews with 10 Japanese artists represented by Keiko, and many images with their works.

→ The interviews will be published in the first printed issue of Ceramics Now Magazine. Pre-order Issue nr. 1 - Winter 2011-2012 or subscribe for one year.

Ceramics Now Magazine : Constructing your figurative pieces with such delicacy takes a lot of time. Can you tell us more about the process? What materials do you use?

Hayashi Shigeki Japanese Ceramics - Ceramics Now MagazineHayashi Shigeki: I make the prototypes with regular clay and make plaster casts for them. Then I pour the plaster, modify those plaster masters very carefully and create second plaster casts. Then I pour the slip into them and throw the remaining slip away. After taking the pieces out from the cast, I work on some final details and then put them into the kiln for the biscuit firing. I sand the biscuit surfaces and then second fire them at 2246 degrees (F). Additional decorations with gold or silver are added and then fired again at 1472(F). All the parts are assembled with epoxide-based adhesive and bolts. The latest work consists in forty parts. I am using thirty four different kinds of casts which are from two to seven split molds. Since I don’t have any assistancy, all the processes are done by myself. For my latest work, it took me nine months to make the casting process and one month for the firing and assembling process.

Hayashi Shigeki Japanese Ceramics

00, 2011 (white bike), Glazed porcelain, 32” wide - View his works

Your works look like tiny sophisticated robots. What do they represent? What message are you trying to send to the viewers?

They are characters in my imaginary science fiction world. Each audience may receive different kind of messages from my work. Someone will think positive about the future, bot others will feel my warning messages.

Read More