Connie Norman
Connie Norman

Posts Tagged ‘Plinth Gallery’

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.

Todd Shanafelt – Plinth Gallery Artist Interview

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

As It Happens by Todd Shanafelt

Todd Shanafeltʼs ceramic sculptures chronicle his process of the “deconstruction or devolution” of the vessel form. Using mixed media as well as clay, Shanafelt creates highly personal narratives that that question relationships, whether it be between the human component and the natural world or other. His pieces speak of his reaction to “the profound disconnect throughout the world”.  He adds that “our world has obviously become rapidly connected, which has its wonderful advantages”, he states, “however, we have also become less and less sensitive to the subtleties of our relationships and the reverence of them, this idea is very personal to me and I feel increasingly prompted to create work that somehow address this”. – Jonathan Kaplan

 Reception rescheduled to February 10.

Exhibiton Dates: February 3-27
 Plinth Gallery * 3520 Brighton Blvd. * Denver, Colorado

  Visit Plinth Gallery’s website for more information on Todd’s show. 

For more  information on Todd Shanafelt please visit his website. 

Why did you decide to become an artist and could you imagine doing anything else? If so, what?

I think a lot of artists have said this — but ‘it’ chose me I think. Like something stuck to the bottom of your shoe. It has never really not been there. I could imagine myself doing something in the natural environment far away from civilization — something like studying insects, sea life, plants, rocks, etc.

How did you become an artist?

Again, I think it has always been there. It didn’t take much nurturing I think. No big museum visits, no high dollar art schools, just a huge sense of curiosity to make things with my hands and then re-make them, then respond and re-make, etc. a never ending game.

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

The clay material seemed to have a peculiar voice and attitude on its own — so I think I learned after sometime that I didn’t need to control it completely…that instead, I could collaborate with it more. That was exciting to me in college — when I found this out through working, I thought, wow, every push I give it, it gives back something on its own — and usually, something better than something I came up with.

The ‘style’ I worked in for many years came from trying to imitate other materials with clay — such as metal. My ‘art museum’ was the family garage and the natural world found around me in Estes Park, CO where I was pretty darn fortunate to grow up. I think the harsh contrast between the greasy, cold garage and the magnificent flora and fauna surrounding me there in CO impacted me and continues to influence my work. I am intrigued with these juxtapositions of human made and nature made beauty — as well as questioning what beauty is…since my definition of beauty has evolved over the years as I continue to learn how to see.

What keeps you motivated?

Listening and observing the world around me — sound bits from world events — politically, socially, environmentally, etc. Thinking about what kind of society we are leaving to the next generation has now become paramount in what my work looks like…so for example, I’ve become more implicit and illustrative by using human and animal ceramic figurines in my work.

What or who inspires you?

Rafael Perez is a ceramic/sculptor artist friend of mine who works in Rioja, Spain near Bilbao — I met him at an exhibition we were both in together in Valencia, Spain about 9 years ago. His process is almost more inspiring to me that the outcome of his works — although they are breathtaking objects that hit a cord with me visually for some reason…again, I think they define beauty to me that relates to what I grew up with in the early years surrounded by mountains (which mountains are created out of sometimes violent events, leading to incredibly exciting peaks, valleys, etc.)..

Anish Kapoor is another art hero of mine. Again, not always his finished works, but his processes intrigue me most.

What are your secrets for managing your time wisely?

None — work when you can…but I tend to need real vigorous cardiovascular exercise before getting into the studio or else I feel stale and uninspired…in short, the ‘juices’ need to be flowing.

Who would you like to trade places with for one day? Why? If you could live anywhere in the world – all expenses paid – for one year, where would that be? Why?

Somewhere in northern Norway I think — where we could cross country ski day in/day out — and take everything in — including the incredible minimal light there during the winter months — isolation and seclusion in such a place is therapeutic to me — and my wife and kids would like that too…..I think! who’s paying??

You, like most people enjoy the process of making and crafting 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?

Yes, my first thoughts like most were — OK, I’m going to be having a family and dependents…how am I going to do this???? I didn’t think much about it though until I began thinking about marrying someone — so you want to support them. I scrambled and realized that I could be a studio artist AND teach and earn a living at the same time. I definitely wanted to be maker first and foremost…and I am still learning how to teach — which has been exciting too — and that ‘process’ has taught me a lot about what I am making too…

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

I’ve heard this before too — don’t pick up any art magazines or even the internet — or youtube — that practice can then begin to put blinders on you….however, i did just that in college starting out — I think it helped see the range of possibilities, but it did immediately set me in a ‘track’ — it is then important to be able to consciously get out of it and make new work…so there is a balance…I occasionally read something, but I try to look at a broad range of work — not just ceramic based…in retrospect, I think I’ve always been more interested in looking at non-ceramic objects and imagine the transition from that object into clay and then the possibilities come to mind…

Museums are a very good thing — but simply put — just be curious about the world around you and follow your instincts.


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.

Jim Kraft – Plinth Gallery Artist Interview

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Jim Kraft’s work is compelling yet deceptive. Kraft builds large container forms by using small pieces of cut or torn clay which is constructed in such a way as to appear as a completely different material.  This manipulation of the clay creates a visual deception, of baskets constructed of wood, fiber or cork pieces when in reality, they are ceramic.  

Seattle-based Kraft has worked in ceramics for over 30 years, and likes the idea of being a part of the long history of people making things with their hands. He has described his own work as an evolution of ideas, often influenced by the natural world and native cultures. Kraft often works with the idea of smaller parts making up the whole, and this can be seen clearly in pieces such as “White Keep” or “Kala”.  These large vessels are made using coil and brick-like pieces, or cut and torn clay parts assembled to create a vessel which appears basket-like.  Kraft’s use of texture in the clay is exciting, and this exploitation of texture, combined with his use of natural colors for surface treatment, further trick the eye into seeing a different material. – Jonathan Kaplan, Plinth Gallery

Ceramic Constructions” opens at Plinth Gallery on First Friday, November 4th, from 6-9pm. This exhibition will be on display during Denver Art Week and through November 26th.

For infromation please go to Jim’s website and to see the upcoming exhibitions at Plinth make the jump to their website

I think I became a creative person first, it wasn’t until later that I thought of myself as an artist. As a child I loved to draw and I had a strong connection w nature. I was inquisitive. As time went on and I took art classes in school I realized I liked to work with my hands, to make things. Plus I had an innate desire to express myself. I would say it was when I was an adult and I had a career in ceramics that I started to think of myself as an artist. Perhaps I could see that others thought me an artist and that made me an artist. I think of myself as a creative person and a maker of things.

My style is what bubbles up from my interest in the vessel form, my interest in texture, my interest in nature and my interest in how previous cultures have distilled or combined these same elements. I want clay to look like clay. I meet it halfway, I don’t wish to over power it.

The vessel form in general and the things I mentioned in the previous answer; nature and other cultures. I’m generally inspired to be creative and to follow in the path of a long line of people who made objects with their hands… for ceremony or every day use.


The need to be creative. To evolve ideas. I see the ideas in my head and go from there. I also take successful aspects of a series and build on those aspects in the next series.


That’s a difficult question to answer as I don’t think I am directly inspired by anything. It’s a filtering and distilling of many things like travel, other visual art, nature, music, beauty, decay. If I had to say though I’d mention the cave painters, van Gogh, basket weavers,
Joni Mitchell, Cary Grant, Gandhi, John Merrick, Steve.

I’m a spin addict and I get enough sleep and I can sit around and do nothing for hours on end. And I travel.

Make peace w the fact that the Art World is a necessary evil. There is art and then there is the art world. Do your best to have integrity and don’t be seduced by the art world to become famous.


Make what you want to make not what you think you should make. Let it come out, don’t think about it too much.  Art is another language, not one of words and ideas.

Hand Lettered @ Abecedarian Gallery

Monday, October 24th, 2011

If you are in the Denver area please come by and see my work in Hand Lettered at Abecedarian Gallery.

November 4 – December 17, 2011

Opening Reception November 4, 6-8pm

910 Santa Fe, #101, Denver, CO  80204

Abecedarian Gallery is a contemporary book arts gallery in Denver, Colorado. Alicia Bailey the owner asked me to participate in the Hand Lettered show after she saw my work at Plinth Gallery, Jonathan Kaplan being the amazing guy that he is said “No Problem.” So for the month of November my work is in two galleries in Denver. I’m thrilled to be in the show; I’ve always love book arts and have dabbled here and there in making books. But I’ve never felt they have been successful. I can’t wait to see the show!!

Here is the press release for the show and some links to some of the artists in Hand Lettered!

In this final show of the year, Abecedarian Gallery presents Hand Lettered, a group exhibition featuring artists whose works include hand lettered elements as either primary content or concept.

The exhibition was curated by gallery director Alicia Bailey and features work by Heidi Zednik, Jan Owen, Justin Quinn and Mamiko Ikeda alongside books and sculptures by seventeen other artists from throughout the United States, Germany and Argentina.

Heidi Zednik is represented by Abecedarian Gallery and has been included in several previous exhibits. Here exhibited are several works created particularly for this exhibition. A dual citizen Austrian/American Zednik uses both painting and original texts in her works on paper, her studio work a recognition that art can be a catalyst for beauty, for peace and for being still.

Maine artist Jan Owen has also been included in previous exhibitions at Abecedarian. Captivated by the gestures found in handwritten letters, she often works with texts written by others. More than marks made on specific surfaces, Owen’s work integrates surface with mark, which she does by working on translucent materials that are layered, or by weaving materials back into the original surface.

New to Abecedarian is Justin Quinn, a printmaker currently living in St. Cloud, MN, displaying both books and prints from his Moby Dick series. Quinn has altered Melville’s epic novel by changing all letters to the letter E, thus abstracting the text away from something that is read into something that is seen. Both a bound copy of the original graphite drawings, and a photocopy version installed on the wall will be on view, alongside an intaglio print.

Also new to the gallery is Mamiko Ikeda. Born in Tokyo, Mamiko has lived in Colorado since 1995. She learned Japanese calligraphy from her mother, master calligrapher Shotei Miura. Here are exhibited several monotypes with calligraphy, works created as a form of meditation, the brush movements reflecting her moods, feelings and thoughts and hand painted boxes, each containing hand-lettered and printed manga scrolls.

Hand Lettered also includes artists’ books by the following artists:

Carol Erickson (Albuquerque, New Mexico) – Emily’s Trunk, a piece inspired by the writings of Emily Dickinson,

Carol EsAll Done But None, an edition book with each copy hand written with original watercolors and prints.

Cheryl Bailey/Deborah Henson (Denver/Longmont, Colorado) – A Manual for Future Departures, a collaborative multiple page scroll designed to hang on the wall mimicking a check list.

Danielle Feliciano (St Louis Park, Minnesota) Luminous a digitally printed abecedary of illuminated letters

Elizabeth McKee (Pasadena, Maryland) let it go a book work based on an e. e. cummings text of the same name

Ellen Wiener (Southold, New York) Even the Rain, a poem by Agha Shahid Ali in a lavishly painted and printed accordion book

Friedrich Kerksieck (Memphis, Tennessee) Abandoned Tales a letterpress book of text and illustrations reproduced via photopolymer plates and utilizing both hand drawn and digitally typeset text.

Jennifer Hines (Chicago, Illinois) Kneel, a mixed media accordion with a body relief print and handwriting

Kristen Catlett – Booneville, Arkansas, Alphabook: A Celebration of Letters, a book letterpress printed from hand drawn linocuts.

Marí Emily Bohley (Dresden, Germany) Hoar Frost, Hanging in Time, accordion books an elegant use of natural materials along with The Book of Silence a codex incorporating hand-written translations of various words.

Marina Soria (Buenos Aires, Argentina) Winter and Autumn, two puzzle books that allow viewer re-arrangement of the pages

Stephen Sidelinger – (Venice, Florida) Baudelaire Prose Poems Book 1&2 – two lavishly illustrated books with hand calligraphy and illuminations, each with 26 poems.

Sun Young Kang – (Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania) The Way To Be Empty 2 is composed of 108 small boxes set within 5 larger boxes. Each small box has a character hand burned into the cover with incense.

Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord (Newburyport, Massachusetts) Words for the Journey, a fan book with one one line quotations from various well known authors.

Turner Hilliker (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Velvet Vacuums and Epic Moments of Personal Failure are both digital reprints of hand lettered works.

As well as works by by

E. Brooke Lanier (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Veiled Threat, Sincerely and Caveat modestly scaled wall works with troubling messages

Connie Norman (Cheyenne, Wyoming) a selection of ceramic vessels incorporating repeating messages alongside stenciled glazed designs.

Kristen Kieffer’s Workshop

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011


A couple of weekends ago I took a Kristen Kieffer workshop at Plinth Gallery.  It was a two day workshop where she shared many of her amazing techniques.  She’s the queen of elegant stamping, beautiful slip trailing and other surface decorations! I was really glad to be able to sit and listen as she demystified her methods.  Some of the things she covered were making your own stamps, and altering by using stamps, darting, and slip trailing.

I love how Jonathan’s cat Flux decides to partake in the workshop as well!

I’m so glad that Jonathan Kaplan the owner of Plinth has been offering these workshops.  I no longer can take a week or two week workshop, I just don’t’ want to leave my family for that long, but these short bursts of creativity are terrific.

Kristen Kieffer – Plinth Gallery Artist Interview

Friday, October 7th, 2011


The graceful forms, elegant patterns and lively colors of Kristen Kieffer’ s  “Lovely Intangibles”, will be on display at Plinth Gallery during October.  This exhibition, featuring all new work from the Massachusetts-based ceramic artist, opens “First Friday” October 7th with an artist reception from 6-9pm.   

Kristen will also instruct a two-day workshop October 8-9 in the Plinth Gallery studio.  The workshop will focus on altering forms, and decoration techniques such as stamping, slip-trailing, sponging and resists. Cost is $250/person which includes lunch, and interested persons should email the Gallery for more information.  

Kristen’s website and blog 

 Tell us a little about yourself!

I am a full-time studio potter working from my home in north central Massachusetts. I teach 5-8 hands-on and demonstration workshops  around the U.S. each year, as well as adult community classes part-time at the Worcester Center for Crafts. I work alone in my studio, so do every aspect of the making and finishing of my pots solo, in addition to the marketing, networking, shipping and photography. I primarily sell my work directly from my studio in my online stores on Etsy ( and Big Cartel (, at my spring and holiday studio sales, and during workshops. I also consign at a handful of select ceramic galleries and participate in juried and invitational exhibitions.

How did you become an artist?

My start was probably not too different from any other. Art was always my favorite class and hobby as a kid, and when I started college not knowing in which direction I’d head, I took a pottery class, and have been in one studio or another since that first one in 1991. Family support was essential and personal stubbornness and naïveté were probably crucial.

How would you describe your work? 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?

My favorite compliment is, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” I wrote a blog post in January 2010 called “Signature Style” ( that delves into this subject a bit, and remains the most commented-on post I’ve written. I also recently re-wrote my artist statement, which I think explains my perspective about my current pots fairly well:

Inspired by diverse cultures, materials and objects, I create contemporary pottery that embraces the sophistication and detail of past eras mixed with modern beauty and merriment.

In the making of these Victorian modern porcelain vessels, my influences range from 18th c. silver service pieces to Elizabethan and couture clothing and from Art Nouveau illustrations to cake fondant and vintage wallpaper. Such diversity combined with my own background and distinct studio processes culminate into a unique style.

Graceful forms, elegant patterns and lively colors convey a design that is robust as well as romantic and lavish.

(My full statement can be read here.) (

Graduate school is probably when my work took on a more distinctive look, but in the ten years since I graduated from Ohio University, my pots have continued to grow and evolve and, I hope, will continue to do so. The change is what keeps me interested.

What is the inspiration for your pieces?

Most of the blogging I do on my website is about my influences. The blog is obviously a marketing tool, but it’s also a place for me to communicate to my collectors, gather my thoughts by having to write them down, and catalog my inspiration. My influences are rarely ceramic and vary wildly (architecture to candy, industrial design to furniture, etc.), as I mention in my artist statement above. I’m now keeping track of influence images for future blog posts on Pinterest ( And, starting with my post about the title for my exhibition ( at Plinth this month, there are dozens of blog posts on my site about my influences ( and favorites ( ): separate and sometimes overlapping categories for things that impact my work vs. things I admire. 

 How does your DVD on surface decoration relate to your workshops?

The DVD ( ) was a neat, independent project that is a great compliment to my teaching. The response has been tremendous and supportive. Since it came out last year, many folks who purchased it have been enticed to take a full workshop. And many more who took a workshop have purchased it as reminder of what they learned. The DVD has sold all over the world, and while I’d certainly be happy flying anywhere and everywhere to teach, this instructional video has allowed folks who can’t come for a workshop the opportunity to see some of the techniques I enjoy in a personal format.

What keeps you motivated?

I think being a self-employed anything requires a certain kind of personality, an inner drive. I strive to continue to be a studio potter, so how to do that (and pay the bills) is on-going motivation.

Kristen’s website and blog


A very cool first!!!

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

I got my October Ceramics Monthly the other day and I start flipping through it as I usually do when I get my copy.  Then I got the nicest surprise, I saw one of my vessels flip by.   Jonathan Kaplan and Dorothy Bensusan of Plinth Gallery included my piece, Stamina of Love in their ad for Plinth.  Thank you so much to Jonathan and Susan for putting my artwork in the ad and for representing me in their gallery.  This is a great way to start October to have my work included in my first gallery ad.  I hope it’s not my last!!!

Plinth Gallery and Anderson Ranch Art Center: a Ceramic Collaboration

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Plinth Gallery, in collaboration with Anderson Ranch Arts Center, is pleased to present a two-month exhibition celebrating ceramics in Colorado. 

This show, which opens at Plinth on June 3, 2011, features contemporary Colorado ceramics and introduces the artists and their recent works. Over 70 Colorado Ceramic artists, as well as a number of Anderson Ranch Alumni who continue to reside and work in Colorado, will bring a representation of work to Plinth Gallery for the show.  The exhibition will showcase a diversity of contemporary ceramics, from well-established and recognizable artists to those who are newly emerging in the field. 

 - Jonathan Kaplan

Here is a sampling of artwork in the exhibition! 

Jonah Skurky-Thomas

Michelle Woods Pennisi

My artwork is a constant journey of self-discovery. It becomes a diary recording my experiences, fueled by questions I ask myself concerning the realities that I am confronted with. The images are motivated by emotions of vulnerability, isolation, anger, joy, love and fear. I find comfort once the story is told and work created, is inspired by my over-active imagination, constantly racing forward or dwelling into the past.

Clay is the perfect canvas allowing me to express myself from more then one perspective. I am currently using three main images for my work: birds, trees, and houses. Each one represents a different aspect of emotion and responsibility to the other. The bird carries the story, representing a friend or myself. The search to find balance: bird as an object vs. bird as the narrator sustains my interest. The image of the tree symbolizes being grounded, stability, deeply rooted or bound to something. Houses are representation of the home, financial commitment, security, family and unity. Through creating objects and sculpting my story my hope is to communicate how I fit into the larger dialog of life.

Michael Wisner

Lorna Meaden 

Julie Anderson

From basic biology classes, I clearly remember the saying, “Amino acids are the building blocks of life.” This imagery of creating large and complex forms from smaller units remains with me today. As an intensely curious person, I find myself asking questions such as, “What are the building blocks of ecosystems, waves, plants, molecules, etc.?”  Much of my sculptural ceramic work starts with just such a question.  By physically working through the architecture of a form, down to the tiniest detail, I explore and manipulate the answers to the inquiries.

Rita Vali

Elizabeth Farson

Barb Gregoire

Working primarily with stoneware and porcelain clay, I am constantly investigating a balance between function and aesthetic.  The surfaces of my pieces often take on abstract shapes, with detailed hand-etchings and modern irregularities.  Particular pattern, rhythm, color and shape resonates a lively attitude that I hope can be felt when one holds a vessel that I have created.

As a child, my father’s work as a geologist exposed me to the subtle colors and rich textures of patterns in rocks.  This is what inspires my work; all pottery owes its existence to the mysteries locked inside the earth.  Just as the canyon walls and sandstone cliffs are varnished with manganese and iron oxides, my pottery’s satin and matt surfaces originate from similar rocks and minerals.

Holly Curcio

Susan Martin-Serra   

 The Fig Harvest is the first in a series of new works about Susan’s life with her husband and many animals in their mountain home in southern Colorado. This platter is a colorful ceramic work created in low-fire earthenware clay, bisque fired, painted with many layers of underglaze colors (over three layers of yellow-gold underpainting) to create the “golden glow” that is apparent in the work. A light layer of clear satin glaze was sprayed over the piece to protect the painted surface. The imagery includes an idealized self-portrait of the artist and likenesses of Susan’shusband, Robert and a number of their beloved animals. The couple enjoys a serene country lifestyle in which they grow much of their own organic fruits and vegetables. Their year-round greenhouse growing dome is home to five mature fig trees that produce wonderful fruit for eating fresh, as well as for preserving. This work is a reflection and celebration of mountain life at 8,000 feet. It is also a visual expression of Susan’s desire to be more connected to and respectful of our planet. Susan and Robert are currently retrofitting their home with solar panels and a battery storage system that will provide the couple with 75% of their home’s electric power.



The Winner is…..

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

The Winning Ticket

Van showing off one of the winning tickets!

  Our son Vander drew the winning tickets for my raffle at Plinth Gallery Sunday morning! 

I want to thank everyone that bought a raffle ticket; it was so generous of you.  Your support will go a long way for the needy.  A little over $1,300 dollars was raised, which will go for much needed supplies.  This was more than I ever expected!!  I would like to especially thank Jonathan and Dorothy at Plinth Gallery; they were especially instrumental in this endeavor. 

Since everyone was extremely generous, I decided to add two more pots into the drawing.  So, there was a first, second and third place winner.  Again, many thanks to those that want to make a difference in the world, I can’t express my gratitude. 

And the winners are…. 

1st place for the vessel Anya Peterson-Fray, 2nd second place Jennifer & Fred Rife, 3rd place Roberta Hawks!! 


In other but related news….
I am very honored that Ethiopian Orphan Relief, Inc. asked me to make a bowl, for the inaugural Lights of Hope Ambassador Award. Here is John and Anne Ferguson receiving their award.  Congratulations!

Ethiopian Orphan Relief, Inc. has long recognized the importance of the commitment to their donors and the orphaned and vulnerable children in Ethiopia. The Lights of Hope Ambassador Award recognizes a donor for their extraordinary commitment to supporting children in Ethiopia.

This year at Lights of Hope in Portland, Oregon they celebrated the inauguration of this award.

This award also reflects all that is great in people and how with their support of Ethiopian Orphan Relief we have been able to help so many of the orphan and vulnerable children in Ethiopia.

For more information: please visit their blog.
Lights of Hope Ambassadors

Lights of Hope Ambassadors Award for Ethiopian Orphan Relief


And my friend Abi Aldrich Paytoe Gbayee, saving the world one Band aide at a time!  She collection band aides for me to take to Ethiopia!  Thanks Abi for all your hard work!