Connie Norman
Connie Norman

Posts Tagged ‘porcelain’

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.

Ayumi Horie – Artist Interview!

Monday, May 9th, 2011

                  Porcelain mugs rabbits

It is my great pleasure to interview Ayumi Horie.  I have admired her work for some time and I’m thrilled to feature her on my blog!  She is one of my most favorite artists.  Her work is stunning and unique.   She is a mastermind at organizing her sales and fundraisers on the internet.   Her ideas are fresh, innovative and enormous!  Ayumi has a unique way of “dry throwing” her pots using no water.  She is the first potter I’ve seen do this.  She complements this freshness of form in the decorating process by preserving drips and fingerprint marks made during glazing and slipping. Then she finishes them with her wonderful animal drawings.

For more information please stop by Ayumi’s website.

 Today’s the debut of Ayumi’s Match Striker Video! Enjoy!


Tell us a little about yourself!

First and foremost, I’m a studio potter. From this base and with a lot of help from the internet, I branch out to do a number of things. In the last few months, I co-founded Handmade For Japan, which has so far raised almost $90,000 for disaster relief in Japan and I’ve also just made a new video. I typically teach half a dozen workshops yearly, serve of the board of directors at the Archie Bray and get most of my work out into the world through selling online. The idea of advancing craft to a wider audience is key to a lot of what I do. I live in the Hudson Valley about two hours from New York City and adjacent to a 112 year old deconsecrated church where I host studio sales and craft shows.

How did you become an artist?

Art was always present but I committed to it slowly and after a long courtship. When I was fifteen my dream was to shoot for National Geographic, so after college, I started freelancing as a photographer for several papers in Seattle. When it became clear to me that clay was the right medium for me, I dropped photography for a long time but in the end, it’s served me well as a way to engage ceramics with the world. I have a new love of it.

This is a special picture of Michael Connelly taken by Ayumi while they were residents at Archie Bray.

I’ve noticed that you collaborate with other artists frequently; would you tell us how the collaboration process works for you?

It starts with an excited scheme to make something that hasn’t been done before on some level and then it just moves into problem solving. It’s a matter of finding the right fit with someone and then responding intuitively to what they do. It’s a bit like a road trip; it’s always more fun to share an experience with someone, finding all the unexpected and amazing things that pop up in two minds instead of one.

Andy Brayman putting decals down.

What are the similarities and differences between Obamaware and the Handmade For Japan fundraiser?

The most important parallel is that both began at a low point where I had a feeling of being ineffectual and powerless. When the “light bulb” moment came, the goals were at once clear and compelling to me. Leading up to the 2008 election there was a collective feeling among liberals that if Obama didn’t get elected, the country was done for. We all wanted to help and be a part of that change he was touting and so contributing as artists, by doing what we love and are good at, was really exciting. On the other hand, Handmade For Japan was born more out of concern than hope. The morning after the earthquake in Japan, I sat at the kitchen table emailing Japanese friends and family to make sure they were all ok. Like many people, I was really worried and had an intense desire to help. The understanding that something needed to be done, and done quickly, was such a certainty that the next step was all about action and rallying people. In both fundraisers, it was easy to find people who wanted to help.

The fundraisers were different in the sense that Obamaware was a “commissioned” and themed auction spanning five weeks from conception to auction end, whereas HFJ happened in two weeks because it consisted of work that was available in the moment and had a dedicated team of three (and we were all working a full 18 hour day for weeks plus had volunteer help). I was so lucky to have Ai Kanazawa Cheung and Kathryn Pombriant Manzella as colleagues in Handmade For Japan because with them, our ambitions, capabilities, outreach, and effectiveness increased exponentially. Obamaware made almost $11,000; Handmade For Japan made over $75,757 in the auction and almost $90,000 to date for disaster relief in Japan. We’re also grateful for the institutional support we received. eBay and MissionFish waived their fees because we were donating 100% in the auction and GlobalGiving, the charity we chose, publicized the auction and has continued to support us immensely. I think that both fundraisers are great examples of the power that artists have to affect positive change through the mobilizing force of the internet and through the good will of people who support the arts.

Handmade For Japan East Coast Headquaters

Handmade For Japan East Coast Headquaters

I’ve noticed that the pots in your postcards have always been in “action”? Was this the start of the pots in action idea?
When I first set up my website in 2001, one of my central ideas was to show pots outside the standard gray gradated background. While gray works well to focus attention on the pot itself and has its place, it somehow felt disingenuous to present pots in this singular way. From writings by Mingei artists, the ceramics community had already absorbed the idea of every day beauty and so it seemed like a natural progression to show pots as they really are. Like any other object, they live in the world we present, as well as in our mess. They live off in the corner and then circulate on to the table with some lovely morsel of food on them. Underscoring their place in our imperfect realities and showing how people really fall in love with them felt like a great way to champion pots.

The idea of “Pots in Action” started with postcards, moved on to the website where I asked people to send in pictures of my pots in use, then expanded into using Google maps to plot the pictures, and finally has been explored via the new match striker video. Combining a modern medium like video with a timeless phenomenon like fire makes us see ceramics differently. We all know in the ceramics community how amazing pots are, so the charge now is to turn on handmade pottery to the rest of the world.

Ayumi Horie Match striker postcard 2010

What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?
Reflection is great, but good work doesn’t come from a lot of thought alone, so work every single day whether you want to or not. And don’t forget to turn off the cell phone, iphone, ipad, tv, computer, etc…and now if I could just listen to my own advice…


For more information on Handemade For Japan, please go to the website. 

Visit Handmade for Japan’s Facebook page.

Become come a Friend of Ayumi Horie Pottery on Facebook.

Yoko Sekino-Bove’s Workshop!

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011


Yoko’s Sekino-Bove’s workshop at Plinth Gallery was amazing.  Her generosity was incredible.  It was great learning all her “Japanese, Korean and Chinese Pottery” secrets.  She told all!  Yoko has a grand sense of humor and we were laughing the entire workshop.  I know we all loved it!  If you ever have a chance to take a workshop from Yoko, do it!!!  I really loved her work before and then during the workshop, I really fell in LOVE.  She can paint and draw like nobody’s business!  Wow! Thank you Yoko for everything!!

Plinth Gallery really treated us right for the workshop, they catered a lunch for us from Fuel Café again and it was delicious.

The only thing now, I wish I hadn’t gone to Yoko’s workshop because… show and workshop is next.  Yoko really set the bar high; I don’t know if I can live up to what she did.  Now, I’m really nervous.

Well, here is Yoko’s workshop…..

After the workshop we made origami cranes  for OshKosh B’Gosh, they are donating to the children of Japan, an article of clothing for every crane that they collect.

Yoko Sekino-Bove–Plinth Gallery Artist Interview

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011


  Plinth Gallery introduces the fine porcelain of Yoko Sekino-Bove in her exhibition, “Fragile Immortality”.  Yoko’s colorful drawings and delicate carvings illuminate the graceful porcelain forms that are somewhat reminiscent of historical Asian exports.  Yoko, originally from Osaka, Japan, entwines surface designs of plants and wildlife, with practical forms to create a story and an identity. –Jonathan Kaplan

 Yoko will be giving a workshop at Plinth Gallery on Saturday April 2, Yoko Sekino-Bove will demonstrate decoration techniques including sgraffito, carving, stamping, and a variety of glaze painting, as well as wet clay surface techniques such as mishima and slip painting.  Students who participate in this workshop will make a variety of clay stamps to use on their own work.  Cost for this workshop is $85 which includes lunch. Space is limited to 20 students and advance registration and payment will guarantee a space. Please contact Plinth Gallery (303) 295-0717 or for additional information and to register.

A portion of all Gallery sales made during Yoko Sekino-Bove’s exhibition will be donated to The Mashiko Potter’s Fund, to assist ceramic artists in the Mashiko region of Japan who have been impacted by the recent earthquake.  We extend our sincere appreciation to Plinth Gallery artists who have agreed to participate in this effort, and we thank everyone for your support.

Reception with the Artist –First Friday, April 1st, 6 – 9pm  also open Second Saturday, April 9, 2011  noon-9pm

For more information go to Plinth Gallery. 


Tell us a little about yourself!

I came to the United States sixteen years ago, following a boy I was in love at that time. Though the love part didn’t work out, I found life in the States exciting and decided to stay here. Since then, it has been a great adventure with lots of ups and downs. I now live in a small town in Pennsylvania with my husband and a black cat (she is also a survivor), making ceramic pieces in my home studio. Life is full of surprises.


How did you become an artist?

My first college degree was in graphic design and I took pride in being a graphic designer until computer technology hijacked the art and craft of graphic design. While being frustrated by the transition in the design industries, ceramic classes in a community college comforted and reminded me the joy of creating work with my own hands. It was a giant leap to apply to a graduate school for Ceramics, but ironically the money I saved up from the design job supported me and allowed me to survive the toughest years. After my graduation, I spent a year as an artist-in-residence at the Armory Art Center in Florida. I have been a full-time studio artist since then.


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?

I believe it’s a great privilege to create functional work for people to use at their home. Because my work will be a part of their daily life and become a part of them in that way, I want to create something personal and honest for them. So each of my work has a story to tell, whether people can understand the story in the imagery or not. It is my hope that people can feel the whispers behind the pieces.

I use the sgraffito technique a great deal in my work. The sgraffito technique (applying black underglaze painting, then scratching the details off on the wet clay surface) was passed along to me by a friend in a ceramic class at a community college in Los Angeles about fifteen years ago. The technique offers endless possibilities, and a fond memory of wonderful friends in those classes.


What is your inspiration for your pieces?

Stories about nature, myth, people, and everything else. Usually the inspiration comes from a snippet of conversation, stories, news, interviews and other media. The plant and animal motifs are used as a metaphor, mainly because I don’t feel ready to use human figures (saving fun for later), sometimes suggestions work better than actual descriptions.

Once I was listening to the book on CD “Fruit Hunter” by Adam Leith Gollner, and it was so inspiring I had to make a teapot out of his descriptions of tropical fruits before the book ended. His writing about the people’s passion for exotic, goosy, fragrant, rare and forbidden fruits were so vivid, it was a fun challenge for myself.


What keeps you motivated?

There are so many interesting and exciting stories going around in this world, I have been having a hard time keeping up with them to create new work out of them. I want to share all the stories with people, in the form of ceramics.


Are you a full-time artist? How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?

I have a part-time teaching job, but spend most of my time in my studio.

My process usually starts with a snippet of word or sentence from somewhere, for example from a radio, book or conversation with friends. The word jumps into my brain and starts whirling until I decide to give it a shape. Then I start looking for a good function, size, motif, and all the other details. When all the elements are combined in my head, I can start testing the possibilities with clay to actualize it. Usually it takes a few months from the word to the finished piece. So even though many of my ceramic work are functional, a concept comes first.


What or who inspires you?

My husband/metalsmith “Man-muse” Jim always provides inspirations.

Also in general, anything in my daily life can trigger my attentions as long as I keep my eyes and mind open. There are so many artists, scientists and scholars who have been challenging and expanding our horizon, successfully or not. At this point of my life, my interest goes to learning how they live/lived and what they make/made. I want to learn how their choices in their life altered or directed their work.


How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

According to my husband and friends, I am completely neglecting them and failing to maintain the healthy balance. I am terribly sorry. Making artwork takes time and there are many tests to be done even before creating something.

After the great earthquake in Japan, I have been talking to my pottery friends in Japan and one potter said that the disaster made her realize how precious and valuable her daily life is and how important for her to spend it with her family and friends. I should remind it to myself everyday.

YSBsekino bove birds

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?

I think a big part of craft business is in the transition, from indoor/outdoor art fairs and shows with physical connections to more digital transactions and virtual shopping. As the economy shrunk in the last few years and the good old time-tested craft business methods are no longer reliable, it became clear that no one knows what will be the most successful art business format for the next decade.

My personal and heavily biased suggestion, especially for younger artists, would be to have a plan B or some other skills to support our life. There are so many young artists who have never considered having any other skills or degrees than visual art, it may be a good idea not to keep all the eggs in one art nest if you still have some time to learn. Not just for the financial reasons, but a real working experience may give us a wider view about the world and inspirations as well as an opportunity to learn about business management. More appreciation of the actual studio time would be a bonus.

And about where to learn the art of business, I highly recommend taking Thomas Mann’s “Design for Survival” workshop. He has a long, outstanding career as a craft artist and a business owner and the workshop covers the ins and outs of craft business, from studio safety codes to pricing methods, portfolio package preparation and personal consultations. He always adds more information about the newer digital technology and current issues, so I keep taking his workshop when I have a chance.

YSBsekino bove celadon loto

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

It takes a long time to find our voices and I think it is important that we spend enough time to search and experiment. It’s frustrating, but the journey itself may be the answer. Many artists go through phases, and later on wonder why they made what they made. But at least to me, creating and completing the test pieces is a fun part and the best way to determine if the idea can survive in this world.

Having a good circle of friends and mentors helps artists greatly too. They don’t need to be an artist, but someone whose judgment you trust. They help you as a wall to bounce ideas off of, and as an evaluation board as well as cheerleaders and role models. Those friends are the first ones to see my new work and give me feedback, suggestions and honest critiques.

Also, sometimes I go back to an idea/method later, long after abandoning it initially. For that reason, I have a giant collection of sketchbooks from the last ten years, and go through them whenever I need a fresh idea. Not only sketches, but also comments, questions, print outs, a little bit of a diary, everything is packed in it like a time capsule. Good ideas tend to evaporate quickly; it’s better to write everything down for the future reference. You never know!

What I learned on the way was that setting your short-term and long-term goal is important to keep your emotions healthy. Comparing yourself with other artists and their successes are something that easily makes us vulnerable and scared, but it’s so hard to avoid, especially if you are still in your development stage and not sure about yourself, this could be really painful. When it happens to me, I just have to tell myself that I have my own goals to achieve; they are on the way, everything’s cool. Rejections will keep happening, but we can develop a way to accept it.

Artist statement for the Genuine Fake China Series

It has been sixteen years since I moved to the United States.

As I grow older and stopped caring all the small things I used to worry, translating one culture to other and uniting them within my limited vocabulary became my hobby.  Then I decided to take this approach to Ceramics. How can I create ceramic work that unite us, create a bridge, and serve us all? Can I create craftwork that offers hope to people? Hopefully and possibly in a subtle, personal way?

This series is my quiet resistant against the current political situation in our time, of isolation and confrontation. Seems like we can use more of those reminders about how similar we are now than ever by using small conversations instead of abstract fear and anger.

So my fake China teapots come with two sides: one in Chinese/Japanese proverb, another in English equivalent (or a saying that has the precisely same nuance). It is my attempt to construct a little shaky bridge over the gap and start conversations about so many profound ideas we share even in different languages and cultures. I hope this series of work will be a good reminder to everyone that no matter where the origin was, things that appeal to us will become universal eventually, if they have a good use. So please use my teapot to serve a cup of green tea, maybe from Starbucks.  


Thanks Yoko, I’m really looking forward to meeting you and taking your workshop!!

Jennifer Allen Plinth Gallery Artist Interview

Monday, May 24th, 2010

 jen allen1_%202%20pitchers

Jen’s website:

Plinth gallery: http://plinthgallery.

This month Plinth Gallery Artist interview is with Jen Allen.  Her show opens First Friday June 4, which is also the third anniversary of Plinth Gallery.  Jennifer makes truly beautiful ceramics. Her functional pottery forms “describe contrasts between modesty and generosity, grace and awkwardness” while they relate to her love of sewing through details such as folds, seams, darts, and pillow-like handles. Jen’s exquisite pottery is the way she, communicates with the home, the hand, and the mind.”

How did you become an artist?

I’m not really sure that I became an artist; I think I’ve always been one. I have painted and drawn ever since I can remember. As a child, my father built my sister and I a miniature workbench next to his, so we could tinker with wood alongside him. I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t building or creating something. My sophomore year of undergraduate school I took my first ceramics class. It was then that I choose to pursue an art degree over an education degree.

jen allen2_%20%20apple%20green%20cruet

How would you describe your style?

Generous and graceful, useful and comfortable

jen allen3_%20%20celadon%20tulip%20vase jen allen15_%20%20yellow%20tulip%20vase

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?

This question is a tough one to answer because I don’t know how long it’s actually taken me to develop a style. Consciously, probably since I was a beginning undergrad student. Every choice you make helps mold you in very specific ways. In retrospect, I can clearly see many common threads that span the 14 years that I’ve been working with clay. My “style” came together swiftly in graduate school. It was there that I learned how to look at my work objectively and hear what it was saying. When my intentions met up with the actual language each piece was speaking, I knew my work was honest and was my own. Developing a style is never something you seek out; rather, it’s something that just happens given time and determination. It’s something as unique and individual as DNA.

jen allen4_%20%20candle%20holders

What is your inspiration for your pieces?

My inspiration comes from a myriad of sources. Most notably from landscape, textiles, home, food and historical crafts.

jen allen5_%20%20green%20jar  jen allen13_%20%20grey%20teapot

What keeps you motivated?

I’m kept motivated by my husband, my dogs, my students and my constant need to speak more clearly through my work.

jen allen6_%20%20cupsjen allen12_%20%20creamer%20and%20sugar

Are you a full-time artist? How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?

Yes, I am a full time artist. When creating new pieces, I often start by thinking of utilitarian forms made to fulfill specific purposes in the home. Next, I sketch many iterations of each form. I post these sketches in front of my wheel and construct quick 3-D sketches of my favorite drawings. From there, I’ll refine the one’s I feel are the most successful.

I go through a similar process when coming up with new decorative motifs. I research textile designs from certain eras, when design was influenced by times of renewal, prosperity and optimism. Specifically, I look to kimono patterns from Edo period, Japan, post WWII textile design, and Arts and Crafts era design. I then sketch a blending of these sources on scraps of paper and post them on my studio walls. When it comes time to decorate my work, I’ll look to my drawings as inspiration.

jen allen7_%20%20celadon%20teapot

How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

The truth is, I don’t. I’m definitely a workaholic. I would like to have more balance in my life and am constantly trying to figure out how to do it successfully.

jen allen8_%20%20grey%20jar

jen allen14_%20%20green%20vase 

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?

Choose how you want to establish yourself in your local, national and global communities. Know that these decisions are going to make distinct differences in your career choices. As for specifics… keep all records and receipts!!! Keep track of all incoming revenue and outgoing expenses. Set money aside to pay state and federal taxes. Be mindful of loss rates and adjust if need be.

jen allen9_%20%20sauce%20boatjen allen11_%20%20shallow%20bowl

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


If you are searching for a style, you’ll never find one. It’s not something that happens overnight, it’s a process that takes years to develop. Always be aware of the current trends in ceramics and have an extensive understanding of ceramic history. Make a lot of work, but don’t make it thoughtlessly. Be conscious of your creative choices, be in the moment with your work and be able to access your work objectively in order to move it forward. Eventually you’ll notice sensibilities that remain constant throughout. When this happens, you’ve gotten closer to identifying what “your work” looks like.

jen allen10_%20%20three%20bud%20vases

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Thank you so much!  I can’t wait to see your show.

Margaret Realica – Plinth Gallery Artist Interview

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Margaret Realica’s mixed media work incorporates plexiglass, pneumatic parts and fittings, found objects, and porcelain. She deftly reinterprets ideas of common vessels into highly contemporary art objects. The everyday teapot is deconstructed into its basic parts and then reassembled into a totally new form that abstractly references the original vessel. According to the artist, she”pushes the boundaries for a balance between the organic and the mechanical, working towards a coexistence of the two”. Her work is both playful and totally unique.  Join Plinth Gallery in welcoming Margaret Realica in her first Colorado exhibition.

First Friday Gallery Opening and Reception with the Artist , April 2nd, 6-9pm

Margret’s website:


Tell us a little about yourself!
I am originally from the U.K. and Hawaii. Now living and working in northern California. Am an artist, potter, mother and teacher.


How did you become an artist?
I was always one.

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?
My style is contemporary but has been influenced by where I’ve lived and by some of the events
in my life.. I feel that ‘style’ is inherent and just develops and matures over time.

What is your inspiration for your pieces?
Colour. Music. Film. Environment. Today’s visual technology.

What keeps you motivated?
Curiosity. Deadlines and the joy of sitting down at a wheel. Having an idea ‘work’.

Are you a full-time artist? How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through
your creative process when dreaming up new pieces.
Yes. I am full time. Have to have a concept first. De-construct, reconstruct, play and edit.

What was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?
Nothing triggered it. I have always done it as a child/teenager and on.


What or who inspires you?
Other artists work including dance, music, street art and film. Architecture and constructions.


How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?
Take time out to play. Friends and family.


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?
Adapt to the times. Be willing to compromise. Open to new ideas.

What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?
Be willing to play with the work. Find time to experiment and visualize/ Keep going.


Thank you so much Margaret!!