Connie Norman
Connie Norman

Posts Tagged ‘Ceramics’

Plinth Gallery Artist Interview – Farraday Newsome and Jeff Reich

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Jeff Reich

Faraday Newsome

Compatible Visions: Farraday Newsome and Jeff Reich

Exhibition dates: May 4-26

First Friday: May 4, 6-9pm Reception with the Artists.

Second Saturday: May 12, noon-6pm, and RiNo Open Studio Tour Sunday May 13, 11am-4pm

Visit Plinth Gallery for more information on Farraday’s and Jeff’s show.

For more information Jeff and Farraday please visit their website, Indigo Street Pottery.

“Farraday Newsome has worked with the vessel format for over twenty years. She explores ideas of lushness, sadness, time, and grace with surfaces that are very painterly. She is interested in the relationship between the “painterly space” and the “actual space of the three-dimensional object.”

Jeff Reich’s ceramic sculptures integrate abstract expressionist influences with contemporary desert landscapes. The Sonoran desert where he lives with his wife Farraday Newsome profoundly inspires him. Angled, sectioned and recombined forms of teapots, jars, wall tiles, and sculptural vessels are influenced by the growth patterns found in desert plants, rocks and mountains.”- Jonthan Kaplan – Plinth Gallery

Farraday Newsome

Tell us a little about yourselves!

Farraday: I grew up in the redwoods of California. It was very quiet and very beautiful. My father was a dinnerware designer for a big dinnerware company in Los Angeles called Metlox. The company flew him down for design meetings every 6 weeks or so. Many of my adult relatives worked in the arts. Making things and painting was part of my life growing up. When it came to college though, I majored in Biology (UC Santa Cruz, 1977) since I was so interested in nature. After earning my BA I moved to San Francisco and decided to go back to school in the arts. I received my MA in Art, Ceramics Emphasis from San Francisco State University in 1987. I moved to Arizona shortly thereafter.

Jeff Reich

Jeff: I was born in Livonia, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. My father was an engineer with an eye to detail, and my mother a homemaker who loved to paint and garden. I grew up with interests in architecture and basketball. Early in my college career at the University of Michigan, I moved to Arizona to transfer to the University of Arizona in Tucson. I first settled on a major in Arts Education. After taking a ceramics course there, I knew that ceramics was my deepest studio art interest. I studied with Maurice Grossman and treasured the knowledge he shared with students. I recieved my BFA in 1984. I started a small studio in Tucson and quickly picked up 11 galleries across the country. Three years later I started working at the Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, Arizona building a ceramics program there that I still direct. In 2005 the Mesa Arts Center moved into a $100 million new facility, for which I helped design the ceramics studio.

Farraday Newsome

And how did you meet?

Farraday: Jeff and I met after I moved to Arizona, around 25 years ago. Jeff was a directing the ceramics program at the Mesa Arts Center, which he still directs. We probably met at an opening – hard to remember exactly when. Although friends for many years, we’ve been married for seven year


Jeff Reich

Jeff: I met Farraday first at the Tempe Arts Festival in 1988. She was showing some amazing maiolica. We became friends and in 2001 she started teaching with me at the Mesa Arts Center. We married in 2004.

Farraday Newsome

When and how did you discover the passion for ceramics?

Farraday: My father got his BA at Alfred University in New York, majoring in ceramics. He studied with Daniel Rhodes and met Susan Peterson while he was there. After college and a stint in the army, he became a dinnerware designer for Metlox Potteries in Manhattan Beach, California. When I was little, he would sometimes take us kids to Metlox and we would glaze in his office on stock dinnerware. I loved that! I let that interest go when I went off to college and majored in biology. I didn’t really take any art classes during my undergraduate years. It wasn’t until years later, when I was working in the sciences in San Francisco, that I took a community college ceramics class. I rediscovered that all-engrossing feeling of joy. I quit my job and went back to school to earn my Master’s in Art with a Ceramics Emphasis from San Francisco University (1987).

Jeff Reich

Jeff: I thought I would be going for an architecture degree. I switched to an Art major after learning I wasn’t accepted into the program for architecture. Later at the University of Arizona my scupture professor, Dennis Jones, took us to see the ceramics studio where the teacher , Maurice Grossman, threw a pitcher. I was amazed and knew after watching that I had to try the wheel. Afterward Dennis tried to get me back to metal sculpture but it was too late, I’d fallen for clay. I love how simple and complex working with clay can be. After graduating I sold my 1969 Mach I Mustang to buy a kiln and wheel to start my career in clay.

Farraday Newsome

What are you two showing at Plinth Gallery this month?

Farraday: I’ll be showing work that is predominantly vessel-oriented, some with high relief imagery. Some will be colorfully glazed and some glazed in black-and-white. The imagery will be mostly from the natural world, but I have just finished a teapot that has unnatural objects in high relief (a watch and a playing card) along with my usual natural imagery. My imagery generally speaks to the passage of biological time and to chance.

Jeff Reich

Jeff: I’ll be showing some of my latest sculptures, teapots, and wall work. My glaze palette is influenced by the Sonoran desert and the unique plants that grow here. I am inteested in portraying the contrasts of desert textures through glazes, drawings into glaze and crawling glazes. My shapes are informed by boulder piles left in place after thousand of years, as well as from the growth patterns of desert trees and plants.

Farraday Newsome

How did you come up with the title for the show?

Farraday: People often tell us that our work looks so different from each other, but that somehow it looks good together. All I can think to write is that we are huge fans of each others work, asking for and giving lots of feedback in our shared studio while work is in progress. I think this all translates to work that is made in close proximity with mutual interest and tenderness, so somehow it is compatible.

Jeff Reich

Do you share the studio or have separate spaces? What is it like to work so closely with your spouse?

Jeff: I teach 4 days a week at the least but get into the studio as much as possible on my 3 days off. We love listening to NPR and books on tape together but when I need to watch sports, well, we don’t share that interest. The studio could be bigger sometimes but I think every artist wants that. We have 3 electric kilns: his, hers, and one small one we share. I fire high fire reduction in our old West Coast updraft kiln. We feel really fortunate to share our passion for clay with others.

Farraday Newsome

Farraday: Yes, we share a home studio. It is about 750 sq. ft. Of course we wish it was bigger!! Over the ten years we’ve lived in our home, we seem to have settled into an understanding of whose tables are whose, but it changes if one us needs more space for a certain project.

Jeff Reich

What do you love most about your studio?

Farraday: I love that it is at home, and that our beautiful 1 1/2 acre wildscaped desert yard is right out the door. I also love sharing it with a fellow ceramic artist who is my husband and whose work I think is terrific!

"Dark Blue Jar with Yellow Birds"

Jeff: I think Farraday said it all above ( I think her work is amazing too!)!

Jeff Reich

How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

Farraday: That balance is pretty elusive. I seem to have three main interests these days, and never enough time to spend on any one of them. Studio work, gardening, and now trail running. I cook most days too – we eat pretty well (vegan) and cook a lot from our beloved kitchen garden.

Farraday Newsome

Jeff: Teaching full time and trying to get work out to the galleries can be trying but I have found a way to do it for 25 plus years. I remember Rudy Turk, who was the director of the Arizona State Museum of Art at the time when I was hired at the Mesa Arts Center, telling me how he wrote books, painted and directed the museum. The secret was “lots of late nights and early mornings”. I don’t do the late nights too much anymore but early mornings work. An ideal day would be a run, then a little gardening, then the studio. That seems like a wonderful day to me (especailly when I get to share it with Farraday).

Jeff Reich

What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?

Farraday: I think an individual voice develops with making lots of work over lots of time. Just keep at it and pay attention to what you like in your work. Stay in touch with your inner eye – your dreams and imagined forms.
Jeff: The best advice I heard when I was starting was to keep making pots/art. Seems simple but the ideas come when we keep working. I also tell my students to look outside of the ceramics world to plants, quilts, landscapes, architecture, etc. Blend what you are most passionate about (for example growing rare desert plants) and find a way to speak about it throught your work. Go to openings and see shows. Read about history of art to see what has come before us.

Farraday Newsome


Farraday, how would you explain your attraction for functional ceramics?

Farraday: I really like the combination of the practical and thebeautiful. As I mentioned before, I grew up in a household where designing beautiful dinnerware was an everyday thing. I like that there is a shared, understood language of pottery forms: the bowl, the pitcher, the plate, etc. I also really like the formal qualities of contained space, from the shallow contained space of platters to the voluminous contained space of pitchers, teapots, and vases.

Farraday Newsome


You work with great delicacy when using patterns and symbols, how do you choose your images?

Farraday: I have always been interested in objects from the natural world. As child, I think I was simply struck by their beauty. Like many children, I collected seashells, presse and collected wildflowers, etc. My collections were in the hundresds though and quite organized. As an adult, I am drawn to psychological associations with different natural forms. It makes them even more interesting and compelling. For instance, oranges seem to me to be an ultimate round, vibrant shape of fertility. So lively! Shells strike me as a combination of momento mori (a reminder of what is left after death and that life is fleeting), and fertility symbol (historical association) – nice combination. I started interspersing man-made, unnatural imagery with objects from the natural world in a flat painterly way as a drift on my work several years ago: things like eyeglasses, dice, watches, playing cards, etc. Now I am just starting to use those images in high relief.

Jeff Reich

Jeff, how does the desert landscape influence your ceramic work?

I love the desert and it’s unique plants that grow only in our area of Arizona. We are fortunate to have 1& 1/3 acre that I grow many plants on that I draw. I take pictures of the plants at different times of the year to work into my glaze drawings . Most agaves, yuccas, ocotillios and thorny plants amaze me with their tenacity to grow even in the harshest environs. We get 7″ of rain per year here on average, so most plants have adapted ways to survive that are unique.

Farraday Newsome

Farraday, it looks like you are handbuilding and throwing in most of your pieces. Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?

Farraday: I usually turn my eye inward, relax, and imagine. When I get an inkling of an idea, I visualize it loosely in my mind’s eye. I usually draw it so I won’t forget the idea- sketchily changing it until it looks like it might work in three dimensions. That first inkling though – that’s the magic. The rest is just fine tuning. Whether to coil build, throw, slab, pinch etc. – that’s figuring out the meansof making the idea look good.

Jeff Reich

Jeff, you divide all your surfaces with such beautiful glaze windows and silhouettes of plants drawings. When did you start using glaze to define and enhance the form?

In 2004 I started glazing by superimposing 2-dimensional drawings over the 3-dimensional forms. First I used crawl glazes, then I added drawings by scratching (sgraffito) through white glazes with a dental tool.

How do you measure fame?

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

 This cartoon is my friend’s  Chad Blakely version of fame.  He is an illustrator that goes to all the Comic Cons and I get to hear fantastic stories of costumes and the Comic book (Graphic Novel ) world.  Today we were joking around about combining NCECA and Comic Con, and if you ever wondered this is what it would look like.  So here I am tabling my work at CLAYcon!!!  Maybe we should start a new trend! And if anyone ever comes up to me in a costume cosplaying one of my pots, I know I made it!  Haha!  Well, I do know I am already a giant geek!

Here are a few of the entries from the Support Show it was in a couple of weeks ago.  It was a fun invitation, my friend Georgia Roswell who owns Artful Hand Gallery came up with the idea of Supporting the American Cancer Society for breast cancer and she asked several of to make bra related work.  It was a nice challenge and I came up with my bra bowls.  While making these I had to make several prototypes before I came up with something I was happy with.  Sometimes trying to get these bowls done I felt like I had two left hands.  But I’m pretty happy that I sold two of them!  So I think I will make a few more! 

BraHide was made by Georgia’s husband!  I’ve never thought of using rawhide as an art material.  His bra is amazing!  The last one is made by Do Palma and Carman’s bra is magnetized.  You can grab the strawberries, pineapples or the flowers and change her bra.  It’s a great piece.  I love Do’s work! 

My Season of Lectures!!!

Friday, April 20th, 2012

In the last 30 days I have given three talks, one for the Delta Kappa Gamma Society on my trip to Ethiopia last summer, one for the Cheyenne Artists Guild on my work, and the last one on Wednesday for The Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper on my work and Contemporary Ceramics.

Delta Kappa Gamma

The talk for Delta Kappa Gamma was on Women, and Children in Ethiopia.  Although I always get nervous talking in front of people, this talk felt good, because I am raising awareness  on the difficulties of orphaned children in Ethiopia.  And since we are half a world away from their reality it is a worthy thing to bring cognizance to people how life is in Africa and mostly Ethiopia.

The Cheyenne Artist Guild

My next talk was at the Cheyenne Artists Guild asked me to talk about my work.  I brought in pieces and talked about my process and why and how I became an artist.  Although I was nervous for this talk it seemed very casual and my jitters soon subsided.  Here is a link to their blog to see what they said.

At the Cheyenne Artists Guild.

Beyond The Pot: Contemporary Ceramic Trends @ The Nic

My last talk at the Nicolaysen Museum sent me into cold sweats and hives.  I was stressed out for this talk.  And as I prepared for the talk I kept telling myself, “This is good practice.”  And this was my mantra for a few days, until I started answering back, “What the HELL am I practicing for?”  “What do I think I’m practicing for?”  “I’m not going to be giving any great speeches at the Oscars or anything.”  My inner turmoil was at an all-time high.  Casper is about 2 ½ hours from Cheyenne and spring in Wyoming is usually a very tricky time for travel, one hour it can be 70 degrees and the next hour we can be in a blizzard.  I started praying for snow, a blizzard, a tornado, a tsunami anything that would close the roads to Casper.

Well, I made it to Casper, unfortunately for me no natural disasters came up and the day was beautiful to drive to center of our state.  I gave my talk to an intimate group of people and Lisa Hatchadoorian the Nic’s Curator gave her talk right after me on Ceramics Beyond the Pot.   I survived!  And now I’m all practiced up for my Academy Award acceptance speech.  Ha!

Before the talk at the Nicolaysin.

Please notice that when my pots were projected that they were taller than I am.  Now if that isn’t intimidating I don’t know what is.

Ceramics Now

In other news, the Ceramics Now Exhibition I was in Cluj-Napoca, Romania has now re-opened in the Galateea Gallery in Bucharest, Romania.  So if you are in Romania from Apri 19 to May 7  head on over to the show.

Casper College

Also, I went to Casper College and saw the show, The Fishman by ceramic artist David Bogus.  He will be conducting a workshop on April 28 – 29.  I wish I could go.

The Fisherman by David Bogus

Images of New Work

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Time for Tranquility

One Day When I Grow Up

You Can Never Have Too Much Sky

A Place I Can Be Myself

Breathe Deeply and Repeat

The Alphabet


Contagious Inspiration

Back of Contagious Inspiration

You Are So Loved

Plenty of Love

Kiss Slowly

Bottom of Kiss Slowly

I’m so Lucky

Bottom of I’m so Lucky

Elizabeth Robinson – Plinth Gallery Artist Interview

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012


“Elizabeth Robinson’s work is a very personal statement embodied in accessible work that is meant to be used. Her pottery is an intimate statement about the importance of the handmade object and the role such objects have in our daily rituals. Her attention to detail in both form and decoration results in work that is a joy to experience.” - Jonathan Kaplan, Plinth Gallery

Please join Plinth Gallery in welcoming Elizabeth for her, opening reception,  March 2, 6-9 PM.

Exhibition on display March 2 – 24th. 

Second Saturday March 10, noon-9pm

For more information on Elisabeth Robinson please go to her website.  And if you are in the market for beautifully designed postcards visit Beth at Postcards for Artists.  And to see the upcoming exhibitions at Plinth Gallery make the jump to their website. 

Tell us a little about yourself!

I am the mom of two small boys and a self employed artist and designer. I live in a small, remote town in Northwestern Colorado, and by remote I mean one stoplight and 55 miles by small roads from the nearest other small town. I have an undergraduate degree in biology, a master’s degree in fine art and travelled the world as a child.

I know that you are a Pottery Mom, how do you divide your time between work, children and life?

There’s never enough of it to go around, but I focus on trying to keep my priorities straight. What works for me is to have a clear daily routine with the kids which prioritizes their physical and emotional needs while also building in little spaces of time at home to get work related things done like designing postcards, communicating with galleries and customers, bookkeeping etc. Often I am working on these things late at night or early in the morning since I don’t want what my kids remember the most to be Mom staring at a computer screen or telling them to be quiet because she’s on the phone. Most importantly, as far as studio time goes, is that I have a work schedule, and barring illness or family crises, I don’t deviate from it. The most challenging part of that is, I can’t stay late or go in early when I need to get more work done, I’ve got to get what I can done in the time I have.

How did you become an artist?

I think I’m one of those people who have always been an artist. I remember wandering around as a kid with my sketchbook and drawing pencils and books on how to draw birds, horses and kitties. I always loved to make stuff and had a particular fascination with useful things. For some reason I didn’t like the idea of majoring in art in undergraduate school, but I was always taking a studio class. By the time I graduated, I had decided I wanted to be a potter. I realized I wasn’t going to be very good if I didn’t give it my full attention, so, I went forward with that, travelling the country and working in lots of different studios before going to graduate school.

I know you live in a remote part of Colorado, how do you get your name and artwork out, and keep current?

Honestly, Facebook is probably my best tool in this case. It makes it so easy to keep in touch with old art friends, colleagues and teachers and share what we’re up to.  I also have a Facebook studio page, Elizabeth Robinson Studio: which helps to promote my work and inform the general public. I try to keep up with maintaining my website and sending out email newsletters, but with 2 boys under 5, my computer time is limited. Living in such a remote area is helpful in the sense that there are few distractions.  With small children at home, my studio time is limited, but my focus is there, so I get the work done, and keep sending it out.

How would you describe your style? One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with your own style and signature look?

Years ago I came across a blogger who described my work as: “your grandmother’s china meets wabi sabi.” That sounds about right. I’m interested in the junction between mass and delicacy, refinement and physicality, loose and formal lines. I think my work comes off as sophisticated and awkward at the same time.

I can honestly say that I’ve put little thought into developing a ‘style.’ When it comes to making things, I’ve depended first on instinct, then an awareness of my interests, and followed it up with a healthy dose of analysis. That last part I learned in Grad School. In one sense, I have a fairly modernist point of view in that I think that many people can pursue an idea or work with a similar inspiration and the work will have a uniqueness to it that is reflective of that person’s individuality. Not that there aren’t good copyists out there, but I think you need to look at a person’s body of work over time to determine if that is the case.

To have a ‘style’ that is your own and recognizable depends on having a fair amount of consistency in the work over time, either in aesthetic, subject matter or concept. I would never recommend, however, that someone stay with a body of work just for the sake of developing a style. I think that if you dig deep and make the work that is most interesting to you that the rest will follow, then go ahead and market the hell out of it.


How has your work evolved over the years?

The body of work I have been pursuing for the last 10 years, which has become very focused on the surface of the pot, and imagery that creates ever shifting compositions based on perspective, started in graduate school with an interest in pattern, decorative motifs and a lot of printmaking. Before that I was primarily interested in form and firing methods that created complex surfaces through atmospheric effects, wood and soda firing mainly. Gradually I realized that I wanted to deal with the surfaces more intentionally through my own hand and the making process itself, this process of activating the surface has evolved from thick slip painted on in distinct areas of pattern and fired with an atmospherically sensitive glaze to the layers of color and imagery that is characteristic of my work right now.  This latest evolution became firmly established when I set up my studio in Rangely and for the first time only had access to one little electric kiln instead of a kiln yard full of wood, salt, soda and reduction kilns. The surface wasn’t going to be complex an interesting unless I put it there myself.  As this aspect of my work evolved the surfaces of the pots became smoother and the forms became simpler, mostly as a result of my concentration on what I was doing with the surface, but also because I was working with a mid range porcelain that’s pretty, but has a lot of limitations. My work is in a period of transition right now. After years of small and simple porcelain forms, mostly dinnerware, I’ve switched to a terra cotta clay and am excited to be exploring larger pieces and working with the earthy qualities of this material.

What will you be showing in your solo show at Plinth Gallery opening this week? How did you come up with the title for the show?

The show is titled ‘Gestating” and it’s going to be a bit of a mix. I am showing some of my favorite porcelain pieces that I’ve saved back over the past year as well as some brand new terra cotta pots.

A little over 5 years ago I became pregnant with my first son who was born in the summer of 2007, and my second son was born in the spring of 2010. During this time my work was present, vital, but going through a period of refinement, constancy. I’m done having babies but I feel my work is now in a process of developing into something new.  I have to admit I feel a bit like a pregnant woman who shows up at the pool in a bikini, not because she thinks she looks cute, but because it’s the only thing that fits, and she might as well own up to it.

What is your inspiration for your pieces?

My work is inspired by a mix of global folk traditions and modern industrial forms, including my mother’s childhood teacup collection, decorative motifs and modes of ornamentation, landscape and painting. I take what is familiar and comforting and mix it with a bit of the unexpected.

What keeps you motivated?

I have always been driven to make things so I’ve never needed a whole lot of motivation to get into the studio. I admit, however, that sometimes after a period of time away from the studio it’s hard to get going again. Also, at the end of a making cycle, or after a big deadline, I usually take a break, usually because I’ve gotten behind in other things and need to catch up. Our family’s budget depends on some income from my studio, so money is certainly a motivating factor, as are show deadlines. Also, given that I have 2 small children at home, and time is even scarcer than money, it’s imperative that I have a work schedule and stick to it, so in that sense, just having the opportunity to go to the studio is a motivating factor, whether I feel like it or not.

Please tell us about your other business.

I have a home based graphic design business called Postcards for Artists. I focus on doing custom layouts for postcards, business cards, brochures, etc. I have always been comfortable on the computer, and my goal is to make the process of creating promotional materials streamlined, affordable and easy for artists, individuals, small businesses or whoever. I can help people through the process of picking their images, choosing their text and offer multiple layout options, or I can just do exactly what they already know they want. I keep it casual and easy and cater especially to those who aren’t comfortable with this part of the process or who need to focus their energies elsewhere. I’m good at working with the last minute deadlines artist are often faced with, and I think I have a knack for looking at someone’s work, or talking to them, and knowing how to design the card to suit their style. I love it, I get to know so many great people and it’s a great source of extra income that I can fit into day to day life at home with the kids.

You, like most people enjoy the process of making and didn’t get into it for the sake of “business”. But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition from crafter to a businessperson. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?

Oh man, I am still trying to figure that out! I know that the key is following through on your commitments, keeping good records, meeting deadlines and always putting your best work out there. Being easy to find, taking good pictures, and communicating quickly and well. Easier said than done!

What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?

1. Make LOTS of work and keep working even when you don’t feel like it or when mistakes happen. If the work doesn’t turn out, do it again, keep at it until you have a real sense of completion to the idea. This, of course, is an excellent quote on that subject by Ira Glass.

Ira Glass

2. Seek honest critiques from people whose opinion you respect. Listen to their input, take what is useful to you and let go of what is not.

3. Follow your instincts.

4. Don’t be in a hurry to show or sell, take as much time as you can letting your work be just for you. Once you start thinking more about money and audience there are aspects of that which inevitably influence what you make. That’s not a bad thing, there is a lot that is relevant and important to consider when it comes to audience and finding a home for the things you make, but the uniqueness of your work will develop best if there is a good incubating period away from these things, and that’s much easier to get BEFORE you start showing and selling. JMHO.

Artist Interview – Vasi Hîrdo, Editor of Ceramics Now

Monday, February 6th, 2012

I’m back with an Artist Interview; it’s been a few months since I’ve featured someone.  Today Vasi Hîrdo the Editor of Ceramics Now has graciously accepted my request for an interview!  Vasi and his team published the first edition of Ceramics Now in December.  It is an impressive first issue, with many prominent artists’ contributions, like Arthur Gonzalez, Roxanne Jackson, Carol Gouthro, they also interviewed many of the artists from the Denver Art Museum’s exhibition Overthrown: Clay without Limits, and many more.  If you’re not familiar with Ceramics Now make the jump to their website and subscribe now!  Their next issue will be launched in March! 

Over the last few months Vasi and I have frequently emailed each other and it has been a great pleasure getting to know him.  A few weeks ago I got the brilliant idea to feature the man behind the scenes of Ceramics Now and I was thrilled that he accepted.  Without further ado, here is Vasi Hîrdo’s interview! 

Vasi also writes a blog, where he writes about ceramics, contemporary art and music.

The first issue of Ceramics Now with Arthur Gonzalez on the cover.

Tell us a little about yourself!

 My name is Vasi Hîrdo and I am a young ceramics student from Cluj-Napoca, Romania. I have liked contemporary ceramics for about five years, but have only started to work and research in the field since two years ago. I am the founder and editor at Ceramics Now Magazine.

Memories, 2010, Terra-cotta, Wood

Please tell us a little about Ceramics Now!

Ceramics Now is the newest contemporary ceramic art publication in the world. We are featuring profiles, works and interviews with new and world-recognized ceramic artists, as well as reviewing exhibitions and projects. Our first issue was published in December 2011, and is introducing more than 40 interviews and articles with ceramic artists and creative minds.

Memories, 2010, Terra-cotta, Wood

Please tell us how you decided to start Ceramics Now?

I started the project about a year ago, but the idea of creating a magazine came up only after a couple of months. Initially, Ceramics Now was a website on which I featured a few ceramic artists I knew about, with the purpose to show their works to my colleagues and friends. It was easy to start it because I was always a fan of interesting websites and I knew how to maintain and promote a website like this.

The idea of creating a magazine came up after I saw that there was a real interest in Ceramics Now (the number of visitors and the emails I received kept rising), and after I searched the internet for similar websites – and found none. I sketched a little plan on paper and then I started doing interviews on a regular basis.

Paleo-Hebrew alphabet, 2011, Stoneware

I have read on your website that the staff is a group of students. What is the average age of the Ceramics Now staff? Are all the students studying ceramics in college? How did you find a dedicated group?

As we speak, I am trying to gather more people to help develop Ceramics Now. We are all in college or high school, and I guess the average age here is around 21.

I have a lot of enthusiasm for this project, and I really hope to transfer little bits of it to my colleagues. It is hard finding a dedicated group; I’m still working on it.

Habitat, 2011, Terra-cotta with underglazes and slip

What has been the biggest challenge of starting Ceramics Now?

Tight schedules. In November I worked non-stop on organizing the articles for the first issue, then on proofreading and correcting everything. Radu Ariesan, Andrei Sincraian and I sometimes stayed up till 5 am just to finish everything in time.

In the meantime (I have no idea when that happened) I was also organizing the first edition of Ceramics Now Exhibition. And school was on the eleventh plan I think.

Other than that, I can’t recall another big challenge. I am a calm person :) .

Habitat, 2011, Terra-cotta with underglazes and slip

How did you become an artist?

I would love to become an artist. I still have plenty to learn, research and experiment, but hopefully someday I will be able to think of myself as an artist. And if not in practice, in my soul I will always be.

What was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?

My teacher, Gavril Zmicala, was the man who triggered the passion for ceramics in me. Before that, I knew nothing about ceramics or art. His infinite passion and steadiness made me appreciate contemporary ceramics and the people who are doing it! When I create a new piece, I am usually very patient.

Please tell us what you are currently making in clay.

I am currently working on my certificate (diploma). I am making a big (1.6 x 1.2 x 0.3 meters), heavy wall piece made out of 16 blocks of sponge drowned in clay slip. Inside the blocks there will be some ‘surprises’ which the viewers can only see if they throw things or destroy the blocks. The whole scene could transform into a performance…

What keeps you motivated?

The desire of making something great and noticed, I want to be one of those who have the power to change something in good (no matter how small), not the one who will be changed by others. The fact that Ceramics Now is getting more and more appreciations makes me feel like I am on the right path, and that the end of path is looking great. Also, the prospects of me living and working in Iceland are also very motivational.

What or who inspires you?

There are lots of things that inspire me, like good music, interesting documentaries, reading and seeing art works. I am also very passionate about Iceland and its culture. They are incredibly open-minded, calm people that seem to live peacefully in an amazing scenery. Almost anything I read about them is a constant source of inspiration for me.

I’m also passionate about contemporary art, magazines, design, architecture, cycling, equestrianism and lots more. There are also a number of amazing people who inspire me, like Dragos Bucurenci, Cristian Lupsa, or the staff at ColectivA.

From left to right: Vlad Rus, Radu Ariesan, Cora Pojaru, Vasi Hirdo

You have come such a long ways at such a young age, what is your next project and where do you see yourself in ten years?

 Ceramics Now is my next project. I am committed to it and I have very interesting plans for the next years. I want to see it grow and to be recognized as a fresh, innovative and contemporary publication. For the next issues we are working on special features on European, American and Japanese ceramics, and interviewing very interesting artists.

On a personal level, I see myself traveling a lot and discovering new boundaries of mine as a human being. I know it sounds hard to understand, but that would be my reason for traveling.

I’m also planning on studying at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts beginning this summer. This is the thing I am most excited about!

Vasi Hirdo in the summer of 2011. Background: Untitled work

What advice would you give to ceramic artists trying to get published?

 They should email us! We are a young and passionate team and surely they will find a good friend in us.

It is important for an artist to have his works seen by creative people, or by people who are looking for inspiration and motivation. That is why I encourage all the artists to first establish an internet presence, then to seek for publishers.

From the reception of Ceramics Now Exhibition.

Vasi Hirdo

Editor at Ceramics Now Magazine

Persistence in Clay

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Julia Galloway

This weekend I had the pleasure of going to Casper, Wyoming to see the Persistence in Clay: contemporary ceramics in Montana, at the Nicolaysin Museum.  Unfortunately I missed the panel discussion on Friday, because I had to teach, but I drove up for the demos on Saturday, the demos on Saturday with Julia Galloway, Alison Rientjes, David Smith and Stephen Braun. 

These pictures are from a new app that I have called “Hipster”, it makes your pictures into postcards It automatically adds the location of where you are. 

I was delighted to catch up with with Julia Galloway on Saturday; we went to Alfred together, ooooh so long ago.  It’s been 20 plus years since Julia have seen each other.  As always it was great to sit down with old friends and hear what they have been doing.  I’m not surprised at Julia’s success; she was the hardest working person I’ve ever met.  She has really dedicated her life to ceramics.  The ceramics world is lucky to have her in it.  Julia’s work is absolutely stunning!  If you’re not familiar with her I recommend that you make the jump to her website and marvel at her prolific and amazing work. .

Take a quick tour of some of my favorites from the show.  I had so many favs I can’t post them all. 

Robert Harrison

Sarah Jaeger

Beth Lo

Shanna Fliegel

Stephen Braun

Robert Harrison talking about his work.

Ceramics Now Exhibition

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Several days ago, well it’s probably more like a few weeks ago now; the wonderful people of Ceramics Now sent me pictures from the reception of Ceramics Now Exhibition.  Although, I don’t know a soul in the photographs it was fantastic to see everyone enjoying themselves at the reception.  It looks like they had a great turnout.  I wish I could have been there.  I am very proud of Vasi Hirdo and his very ambitious staff getting the first edition of Ceramics Now off the ground.  Without further ado here are some of the pictures from the reception of the first Ceramics Now Exhibition.

Plus I got my hard copy of the Ceramics Now magazine the mail the other day.  I was very excited to see the magazine in print and hold it.  I was thrilled to see it as a digital magazine, but there is something to seeing it on paper.  Maybe my age is showing and I haven’t really caught up to the digital age.  Plus I love the stamps they used!!!

I started a Pinterest account!  So if you are so inclined please follow me and I’ll follow you.  I just figuring out Pinterest, so I hope I get it.

The first issue of Ceramics Now is now out!

Monday, December 5th, 2011

I am very pleased to announce the arrival of the newest ceramics magazine, Ceramics Now, from Cluj-Napoca, Romania.  I just got my digital copy and it looks impressive!  The staff at Ceramics Now has been working so tirelessly for months now.  They are featuring 40 different artists, ceramic artists: Claire Muckian, Carol Gouthro, Ian F. Thomas, Cynthia Lahti, Carole Epp, Simcha Even-Chen, Liza Riddle, Patrick Colhoun, Mark Goudy, Chang Hyun Bang, Ian Shelly, Shamai Gibsh, Margrieta Jeltema, John Shirley, Jim Kraft, Blaine Avery, Shane Porter, Antonella Cimatti, Maciej Kasperski, Wim Borst, Merete Rasmussen and I am so lucky to be one of the artists as well!

Right now I am so flattered to be included on their website and to be one of their featured artists in the first issue.

They are offering the magazine at a fantastic deal $15 dollars or $4.00 for a digital copy or you can subscribe for a year for $59 with free digital subscription.

Please make the jump to Ceramics Now to read an excerpt of my interview on their website. Or better yet go become a subscriber to the magazine and read the entire article!

Thank you so much to Vasi Hirdo the editor and the rest of the staff!

Jonathan Kaplan Mold Making Workshop @ Plinth Gallery!

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

On December 3-4th, Jonathan Kaplan will instruct a two-day workshop on mold-making, in the Plinth Gallery Studio.  Please see the attached flyer.   Cost is $150/person for both days which includes all materials, and lunch.   Please contact the Gallery if you are interested in attending this workshop, and feel free to forward to anyone you  know who may be interested.  This will be our last workshop for 2011, and coincides with our exhibition of Jonathan’s own work in the Gallery.