Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vessels ; Inspired by Nature

No Exit
Elizabeth Runyon’s large woven sculptural forms explore and expand on traditional Appalachian ribbed basket techniques. She is inspired by nature and the possibilities suggested by the materials, primarily reed.
 Elizabeth Runyon has been making baskets for more than 25 years and recently began weaving large sculptural pieces based on Appalachian ribbed basket techniques. Her work was included in recent juried exhibitions including the Ohio Designer Craftsmen Best of 2013 at the Ohio Craft Museum in Columbus (May 5-June 23), traveling to the Southern Ohio Museum in Portsmouth (July 12-Sept. 30) and the Springfield Art Museum (Oct. 8-Dec. 1). She also had a piece selected for Fantastic Fibers 2013 by International Artists at the Yeiser Art Center in Paducah, Ky., and for the 46th Greater Hamilton Art Exhibition at the Fitten Center for Creative Arts. Runyon is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and has attended CraftSummer workshops at Miami University, as well as a white oak basketry class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, N.C. She has also studied Nantucket and sweetgrass basketry traditions.
She lives in Oxford with her husband Randy, a professor at Miami University, and two needy golden retrievers.

I have designed and built wood furniture for many years. I started turning wood in December 2009 when I was laid off from my engineering job.
All of my turned work is made from material that was destined for the landfill or someone’s fireplace. I do not buy material to make any of my turned pieces; there is plenty of “waste” material available just for the asking.
I like the idea of reusing wood because old wood is often more interesting that new; the process of aging usually leaves its mark somehow and adds interest to the piece.
I do not start out with an idea of what I want to make. I start with a piece of wood that looks like it might be interesting, figure out how to get it on the lathe with an eye to maximizing the exposure of the best parts of the grain patterns, and minimizing the amount of wood that is turned into waste. The shape of the piece is guided by what reveals and enhances what the tree has produced. The wood tells me what it wants to be.
With larger bowls or vases, I always attempt to relieve smaller pieces from the center of the piece. Because I try to work with highly figured wood, it seems that turning large amounts of the material into shavings is a terrible waste. The small pieces removed from the center of bowls or vases often have some of the most interesting grain patterns.
Walnut Pod
Okay, I admit it this is my husband Mike.

Claire Prenton

The inspiration for my ceramics comes from many diverse elements; my love of nature, of history and my own British heritage. I find the beautiful and ornately decorated pottery and architecture I was familiar with growing up is a reoccurring  theme in my work .
I want my work to have a timeless quality to be elegant, graceful and yet still feel organic and connected to nature. I like the viewer to be able to feel and see how the clay has been formed and so will leave seams and thumb prints visible. Touch is an important element and so when I make a piece I imagine how it will be held and where your fingers will rest.
Many of my pieces have small vignettes or cameos to contain a painting of a precious subject such as a bird, shell or feather, these are not only beautiful but they also hold a memory of a place and time.
My pottery is made from a porcelain clay which is fired to midrange. The clay body is smooth and white which means I can achieve very pure clear colors when I glaze. I make many of my own glazes so I can create a subtle palette, it also means I can make glazes that will move, react and flow. My work is built by hand and I apply many different processes such as stamping, incising, sprigging and slip trailing to achieve a rich jewel like layered surface.

Shell Sauce Boat with Stand and Spoon 


Ellen Solari is maker of sculptural baskets. Formerly a painter, she discovered the world of textiles after learning  how to knit. A Boston native, she graduated with a B.F.A. from Massachusetts College of Art.

Recent group exhibitions include "Community of Artists", the Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA; "Threads Bared, The Nave Gallery, Somerville, MA and "Dialogues", Kingston Gallery, Boston.

Forest Primeval
Want to see more vessels inspired by nature? Re-visit;
Xylem Highway 4/15/13
Eggs As Vessels? 1/1/13
Opium Poppy Seed Pod 9/23/12

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dream Vessels

These artists look at vessels with a more spiritual eye.

Laura  Krugh
This piece was a challenge in technique, skill, and patience.  Though I was able
 to adopt the age-old method for creating a web, I was required to work with the nuanced form of my own unique process finding a balance among diverse components.

Biography: Laura appreciates the ability of art creation to: entertain, diversify, educate, empower, enlighten, and strives to bring these aspects into her own work. Laura is currently Arts Education Coordinator at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center; she has taught art classes for youth at the Art Center, as well as at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Often times, her artwork incorporates drawing, painting and collage. She and her brother co-create experimental paintings under the guise of Multicolored Inks. She holds a B.A. in Architecture from Miami University of Ohio, and an M.A. in Art History from the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.
Dreams, Caught, & Held

Jo Stealey
For me the natural environment has always been a source of inspiration and the connection between the physical and the ethereal worlds. Other interests include functional vessel objects and the role these items play in our lives. For this series I have paired these interests with expressionism in a spirit of serious, yet playful whimsy. Influences are manifest as sculptural forms that suggest function but simultaneously deny any ability to function. The goal of this series is to highlight the role magic and imagination can play in our lives if we just allow it to be present.

Coming from a background of ceramics and weaving, I learned to make paper over 20 years ago. Influenced by these media, I have always had a love for functional clay forms, as well as traditional textiles, particularly baskets. As a result, a vessel series was developed out of handmade paper, which has become the hallmark of my work. All the works contain handmade paper produced in my studio. Most of the “painted”, “printed” or “drawn” elements were done in the papermaking process itself, although some coloration is done during the finishing of each piece. Additional elements are applied to complete each piece.

Biography: Jo Stealey, Ph.D. is a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she is head of the fiber program and was awarded the endowed Middlebush Chair for Arts & Humanities (2010-15) for creative research. She currently serves as a board member for the National Basketry Organization (NBO) and writes for the NBO Review Magazine on basketry. She often teaches workshops, lectures on contemporary fiber and exhibits her work nationally and internationally. In 2011 she attended Kart Zgloszeni, an international basketry festival and symposium in Nowy Tomsyl, Poland as a member of the American delegation (through NBO) where she was one of the keynote speakers.  She is currently in the process of curating a national traveling on the History of American Basketry, 1900-2015.

Current exhibitions include: a solo exhibitions at Perlow-Stevens Gallery, Columbia, MO (2013) and Albrecht-Kemper Museum at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum, St. Joseph, MO (2012), International Fiber Biennial at Snyderman Gallery (2012, 2014); Small Expressions (2011) and the Sioux City Art Center 62nd Juried Exhibition (2011); The Regional Arts Commission show (2011) in St. Louis and the Jacoby Art Center in Alton, Ill (2011). Her work is shown regularly at SOFA, through Snyderman-Works Gallery. Other notable exhibitions include: one-person exhibitions in Granada and Benalua, Spain (2008) and Sheldon Galleries of Art St. Louis (2009). A set design for Eklektica, a music ad performance art team in Spain was completed in 2009 and continues to be performed at music festivals throughout Europe. Her work has been included in such traveling exhibitions as, Contemporary Baskets: No Boundaries and A New Era of Sculpture, in Taiwan.

Recent workshop venues include Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN (2011-12, 2014), Penland (2014) and The Ranch, Seattle, WA (2012). She has also taught at La Escuela de Arte, Granada, Spain (2008) as well as at the National Basketry and International Surface Design Association conferences.

Examples of her work can also be seen in Fiber Arts Design Books III-VIII as well as issues of Fiberarts, Surface Design and Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot magazines and of course her website: Jo was trained as a potter and weaver, but has made sculptural vessels using handmade paper for more than 25 years. She has recently begun to incorporate other natural materials into her work such as river willow and processed leaves.  Her work encompasses both 2 and 3 dimensional formats. Her imagery draws upon her experiences through travel and everyday life.
Dream Keeper

Revisit these blogs for more spiritual vessels;
Empty Vessels 4/8/13, Ancient Symbolism 11/26/12, New Zealand Creation Story 11/5/12

Monday, July 15, 2013

We Use Vessels Everyday

These artists make everyday objects beautiful.

Bonnie Mitchell

For ten years I sculpted dogs, cats and other animals out of clay. In addition, I made functional ware on the wheel. Then I combined my interest in animal sculpture with functional ceramics by carving images onto plates, cups, bowls, and other vessels. This is called sgraffito. Incising pottery decoratively is one of the oldest art forms. To begin, the drawing is placed on the leather hard clay. The image is traced and then carved out, much like a woodcut or linocut. The vessel is then low fired, retouched, glazed and high fired at 2200 degrees in an electric kiln. Domestic dogs and cats are our companions and they have to adapt as best they can to a changing human environment. They’ve had to give up some of their independence and shift their alliances. But we see them as sharing our humanity and treat them accordingly. Creatures we don’t domesticate compete with us for limited resources. They have our interest and compassion as their habitats and food supply chains disappear.
Fish Feast

Biography: Bonnie’s works have been show in a number of group exhibitions and juried shows including: Clay Alliance Spring Pottery Fair 2005-2013; Civic Garden Center 2007-2012; Carnegie Art Center 2007; Clay Alliance Holiday Fair 2008-2012; Middletown Art Center 2008; Kennedy Heights Art Center 2009 & 2013; and Milford Art Affair 2012 .

Gwen Briscoe

I’m attracted to ceramics by the challenge that each new creation presents.  Particularly, with hand built or sculpted pieces, there is a constant need to problem solve with each step in construction.  This allows me to be so absorbed in the building process as to forget everything else that may be going on in my life.  For me, ceramics is the ultimate relaxation technique.  Then, there is that whole other aspect of the art – the suspense of waiting to the end of the final firing to see how the form, surface characteristics, and glazes have worked together on the piece.  I can’t imagine that any art form could be more exciting!
Vessel to Store the Stuff of Life
Vessels to Celebrate Life

Gwen Briscoe is a retired Psychology professor, wife, mother of two, and grandmother of three.  Gwen discovered ceramics late in life – about one-year before retiring!  Now she can’t imagine life without this wonderful creative outlet.  Gwen is primarily a hobbyist, making pottery for the sheer joy of it.  Her work is most often hand-built, functional stoneware, but on occasion, she has been known to use the wheel, and has sometimes created purely decorative or sculptural pieces.

Tim Gold

Pop Memories
Tim resides and works in Independence, Ky. He has a B.A. in Art Education from Edgecliff College and an M.A. in Art Education from Northern Kentucky University.
His artistic style has been described as minimalist, as well as colorist. He paints with acrylics using a hardedge style. The colors used are all complementary: red, green, yellow, purple, blue, orange and their combinations. His inspiration often comes from old black and white family photos.
Since November 2001, his work has been exhibited in galleries and competitions throughout Kentucky and southern Ohio.
He is a 2004 grant recipient of Summerfair, Inc. In 2007, he was accepted in the “Visual Arts at the Market Program,” a statewide juried competition sponsored by the Kentucky Arts Council.
His teaching credits include after school art programs for Art Machine, substitute teacher for Kenton County School District and Art Work Manager at Reality Tuesday Café.
Tim is a member of the Kennedy Guild of the Kennedy Heights Arts Center.

If you want to enjoy more, re-visit these blogs: Ordinary Vessels As Art  3/6/13 and
Picasso's Plates and Bowls  11/12

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Ceramic Sculptor And A Metal Sculptor

A student and a professional both create stunning vessels.

Didem Mert

In this past year as an undergraduate I’ve begun to take my knowledge as a ceramic sculptor and fuse it with my fascination of the intimate relationship between functional objects and the user.  Using the wheel as a tool, I throw elements of the form I intend to create, and attach them to handbuilt elements. The handbuilt counterparts are created using slabs, coils, and ceramic molds. My work often includes the addition of small pieces of scrap stained glass. The glass is inlayed into the clay, when leather hard, and after bisque is then wood fired. The glass reacts with the glazes and gives an added layer of depth, color, and visual interest. The work is then wood fired in a kiln I participated in building over last summer at Gil Stengel and Yuki Muroe’s ranch. The work is fired using scrap pine, from a local stair manufacturer, for about 40 hours with the addition of salt in the catenary arch chamber with some blow-back of salt in the barrel arch wood chamber. Wood firing provides the organic forms, a sensual feeling through the way ash and salt catches on the surfaces producing different textures.


Biography: Didem Mert was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH. She is currently working on receiving her BFA (ceramics) from Northern Kentucky University. Her work has been exhibited nationally in places such as Terra Incognito in Oak Park, IL; LUX Center for the Arts in Lincoln, NE; The Cincinnati Women’s Art Club in Cincinnati, OH; Brazee Street Studios in Cincinnati, OH; Funke Fired Arts in Cincinnati, OH; The Southgate House gallery in Newport, KY; Summerfair’s Emerging Artists Juried Exhibition 2013 in Cincinnati, OH; and at Northern Kentucky University’s gallery in Highland Heights, KY.  Didem has received a full-in-state tuition scholarship from Northern Kentucky University for the years of 2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 based on the work she created while attending the university.  Didem will graduate from Northern Kentucky University in the spring of 2014. She has been working at Funke Fired Arts, one of the largest public ceramic studios in the country, in Cincinnati, OH for the past five years where she is currently teaching.

Jonathan Brown

I enjoy exploring relationships between interior and exterior space as well as relationships between “modern” sculptural forms and organic forms.

Major influences on my work include a fascination with interior spaces and exterior form stemming from a love of “old school” Ocean Liners.  Also influencing my work are memories from living abroad as a youth, a sense of the theatrical, a love of old films, things one might find on a long walk in the countryside or coast such as jagged cliffs, grottos and ruins, and the modern sculpture movements of the early to mid 20th century.
I strive to create small worlds out of metals such as silver, brass, bronze, and nickel.  In creating these works, I intend to present alternative realities or possibilities by representing fictive worlds.  Their meaning is implied but not specified, leaving others to interpret the meaning on their own terms.  These works also address one’s sense of memory, whether it is real or perceived.

Jonathan Leo Brown lives and works in the Phoenix Valley Metropolitan area.  He is currently teaching classes in Metalworking and Jewelry at a variety of local Phoenix Valley Art Centers as well as for Central Arizona College. 

He received a Masters of Fine Arts in Metalworking from Arizona State University in 2008.
Empress Abandoned

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Vessel Artists React to Senses in Shaping Materials

Since this show has such a wide variety of mediums represented, we are going to just mix it up here in this blog and not try to keep everyone in categories as we continue to preview the artists. Please enjoy hearing about two more today. 

Peggy Wiedemann

I graduated from the University of CaliforniaLos Angeles with a degree in Fine Arts, and a broad interest in expanding my knowledge, skills and talent.  I experimented in a variety of mediums including oils, pen-and-ink drawing, printmaking, sculpture and ceramics.

As a teacher, I introduced art and the creative process to children of all ages.  During this time, I also managed an art gallery and was an importer of baskets of all kinds from a host of countries and cultures.

The basket import business exposed me to a variety of cultures, craftsmen and artists, as well as many forms of materials and techniques.  It also enticed me to become an avid collector of Native American and African baskets.

As a contemporary basket maker, I use a wide variety of materials.  I have a strong preference for natural fibers and I also enjoy personally gathering many of these materials, such as pine needles.  To these natural materials, I sometimes add metal, beads and “found” objects to form unique pieces.

The inter-play among mind, hands and a host of materials continually stimulates the creative process and leads my work in new directions.  Using traditional materials in sometimes un-orthodox ways, I want to create designs, shapes and styles that stretch the imagination and react with the senses.

Milan Kavanagh

My pieces convey the feelings and emotions that I experience as I am creating them, the feelings as the clay moves in my hands … shifting, changing, full of endless possibilities.

Biography: A graphic design graduate of California’s  Art Center College of Design, Milan’s interest in pottery came from a desire to express her creativity in three dimensions as well as two.

Milan’s ceramic creations each start as a thrown piece.  She finds that the symmetry and silhouette of a form thrown on the wheel is a natural incubator and starting point for her gestural creations.  Some pieces are planned via drawings from her sketchbook, while others are inspired spontaneously by the forms themselves as they are thrown and manipulated.  Vessels:  All the Eyes Can Hold is Milan’s first juried show.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Meet Two Vessel Artists

Susan Hale and Betty Hazylett are two outstanding felt artists whose work will be in our show. Here is what they have to say about their art. 

Susan Hale: I've been involved with fiber in one form or another for over 30 years. I took my first weaving class in 1978. I have studied spinning and traveled for several years exhibiting and selling my soft sculpture at art shows.

Four years ago, I was introduced to felting. Starting with needle-felting, I moved on to traditional wet felting, taking workshops and classes with well-known felt artists, including Nicola Brown, Andrea Graham, Jean Gauger, Pamela MacGregor, Sharit VanDerMeer, Elis VerMuelen, Dawn Edwards and Chad Alice Hagen.

Medicine Bowl
My work has been included at the Textile Center of Minnesota in their gallery shop, the Kalamazoo Institute of Art and Krasl Art Center Holiday Shows and the Textile Arts Market in Grand Rapids.  In 2012, I participated in the Blue Ridge Fiber Show in Asheville, NC where I  won First and Third Prizes in the professional felting division.  This year I was included in the Handweavers Guild of America “Small Expressions” exhibit and am very pleased to participate in the Kennedy Heights Arts Center's exhibit, “All the Eyes Can Hold.”

I am inspired by the versatility and resilience of felt.  It lends itself to both the decorative and functional alike and I am constantly excited by the endless possibilities that it presents.

Betty Hazylett: Beyond commenting on the world around me, my work always includes focus on the relationships among the elements of the piece itself.  I love to play with contrast because of the interest and excitement that it can bring to a work.

In creating vessels I can focus on the contrast between what happens on the inside and on the outside of the piece, as in “Earth and Water,” and on how I can connect the inside to the outside, as in “Metastasis.”  My love of rich color is important, as is my love of texture and the different surfaces that can be created with felt. 

I am constantly looking at how one element changes, enhances, or “speaks to” another, and at what these disparate elements communicate to the observer.  I look for ways to engage the viewer to react to the form, color and texture of the piece, to create their own personal dialog with the work. 

In felting three-dimensional pieces such as the vessels I have in this show, I have returned to my love of sculptural forms.  In focusing on vessels, I am exploring new ways to create works that have volume and are self-supporting.