March 20 2018

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you eventually became interested in starting crafts and living such a colorful life?

I’m Rachel Mae Smith and I run the blog The Crafted Life. I started blogging back in 2011 when I was overwhelmed with work and in need of a creative outlet. Before that, I had never used a camera or Photoshop, so it was all a learning process. In 2014, I was able to turn my hobby into a full-time job and have been running The Craft Life since!

As for color, I’ve always had a thing for color, but I started bringing it into my home more and more when I moved from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon in 2014. I missed the candy colored homes, so I sought out to make my home that place of colorful joy, regardless of what city it was located in.

Have you always been interested in crafts?

I have! I remember as a kid being obsessed with making those DIY loop potholders, friendship bracelets, and sand art. There was always something so exciting about turning simple materials into something real and usable. I also have a bachelor’s degree in Art History, so my love for the arts has been lifelong.

What is the best craft you’ve ever bought?

A pink and grey vase from Brian Giniewski

How do you display this craft?

I really love using it for flowers, but since I don’t always have fresh flowers, I use it to hold brushes and pens in my studio so that I can keep it out instead of putting it in a cabinet in between use.

What does this piece mean to you?

I just love Brian’s work in general, but I bought this particular piece from him during a maker fair that I curated and hosted. While being a beautiful piece on its own, it also has a fun memory!

Can you tell us about some of your current or upcoming projects?

My first book, Hello Color, comes out May 1st! It’s full of colorful projects that you can make for any room in your home. I’ll be going on tour in the month of July, driving and crafting my way across the country!

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September 27 2016

We visit Ryan Greenheck, a ceramist in the 2016 PMA Craft Show, in his Strawberry Mansion studio. Located near Fairmount Park, Ryan has called his space home for the last 6 years. We spent a few hours with Ryan to learn a little more about his craft and the process that goes into each one of his intricate ceramic designs.

Ryan got his start in ceramics in his high school art class in Wisconsin. He witnessed his new 3D art instructor work the potter’s wheel and instantly knew that was something he wanted to do. This experience inspired him to look into ceramics programs, eventually landing him at the University of Wisconsin. During his Sophomore year, Ryan realized that ceramics was his passion; this paved the way for him to pursue a career in the arts.

As we enter Ryan’s studio he explains the three major steps in creating a ceramics piece. “First you have throwing, which is wheel work. 

Next is trimming, the art of crafting the tops of pieces. This is typically done using a kemper or dolan trimming tool (like the ones seen below)

The last step is glazing, which is my art’s distinguishing factor. I make all my glazes in the studio; for me glazing is the culmination of the process and all the work that goes into each piece."

When creating new pieces, he typically uses a regimented process he’s perfected over the years, with subtle tweaks depending on the size, shape, and scope of the piece in question.

“When I was first starting out I would sketch out each piece on paper beforehand. Now, I have a pretty good idea of how to create a specific type of pot or jar from muscle memory. The exception to this would be when I’m glazing or scoring – I find it helpful to draw everything out on the piece using precise measurements and pencil lines.”

Before scoring, Ryan carefully measures out the exact position of each button.

When glazing, Ryan tends to work with similar color schemes and patterns. One of his signature styles is a yellow and blue combination, which can be seen in his many jars, pots, and cups throughout his studio.

So how long do pieces like these take? “I would say it takes about three months to see a piece from start to finish. Throwing takes one to two weeks, trimming about the same. The glazing process takes a bit longer, usually three to four weeks. Then of course there’s the time allotted to allowing the pieces to dry out.”  

Yet for Ryan, he is constantly turning out new work. Each day he either throws, trims, or glazes while carefully maintaining his pieces that are in-between steps. This streamlined process helps both keep him on schedule as well as provides variety in his days.

“I typically work seven days a week anywhere from six to fourteen hours a day. I’ve been lucky that I live above my studio, and was able to completely redesign the first floor studio space. It was important for me to be able to live near my workspace, so this is really my ideal set up. I can listen to music while I work, typically high energy tunes while throwing, and more subdued music during glazing. I’m also fortunate that my studio is near a park; if I need a break I’ll go over and be in nature for a bit.”

When not in his studio, Ryan teaches ceramics at the University of Pennsylvania and at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art.

“It’s funny how it worked out,” Ryan said. “When I moved here 12 years ago, I wasn’t planning on staying for long, but now I consider it my home. The art scene here is great! The PMA Craft Show in particular is a huge asset to this community, and was a big incentive for me to move here. The Show allows me to plug into new trends in art; it really keeps me in the loop and introduces me to so many different types of exciting craft. I always take my students so they can get a feel for what it’s like to be in a premier craft show.”

In addition to finding Ryan Greenheck at 2016’s PMA Craft Show, you can also stop by his annual studio holiday sale December 9th through 11th at his Strawberry Mansion studio. For more information on Ryan check out his Instagram or his website.

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December 23 2015
Wishing you and your loved ones a peaceful holiday season filled with beauty and delight. Thank you, once again, for supporting the Craft Show in 2015.
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October 14 2015

2015 Craft Show artist Candone Wharton uses slabs and coils to build her striking ceramic pots. We asked her to tell us about her top five inspirations, visual and otherwise, for her signature style.

Ladi Kwali, Nigerian potter. I went to a workshop back in the 70s where she danced around as she built up the pots with coils.  I was (and continue to be) inspired by her coiling and incising techniques.

Ancient Architecture. This image is a hindu temple from Java. My castle-like sculptural vessels are very influenced by these forms. Gaudi's Sagrada Familia is another one of my favorites. 

Nature. These terraced rice fields in Bali are inspiration for my wavy bowls.

Woven Craft and basketry, both traditional and contemporary. This image is of Balinese Basketry.

The Cosmos. Currently I’m adding a new dimension (literally) to my list of inspirations. There are some amazing theories of cosmic physics such as string theory. Each of these theories has great images of what could be, and the visual translation of folded dimensions and curved space is very exciting.

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June 03 2015

Rob Cartelli’s functional and beautiful porcelain pottery was awarded the Jane and Leonard Korman Family Prize for Excellence in Clay at the 2014 PMA Craft Show.

How did you first get interested in working in your medium?

I first became interested in clay in college. Halfway through a Political Science/International Studies double major, I took an elective ceramics class and was hooked by the end of the first week. Part of the attraction was the contrast of the simplicity of clay work with my more cerebral political courses. Though there are a lot of different design considerations, a cup is a cup in form and function.

I was mesmerized the first time I saw wheel-throwing and I knew I wanted to put the time into mastering it. I just could not stop going to the clay studio. I signed up for all the classes and independent studies I could for the remainder of my college career and applied for work study positions to clean up old buckets and mop the floors just for extra studio time.

What is special about the medium you work in? How does it inform the work you create?

Clay is special for many reasons. It is quite possibly the oldest medium, meaning that playing with and using clay is a nearly innate part of being human. Ceramics are also extraordinarily permanent; any historical museum collection has pieces that date back millennia. I choose porcelain for my pots for its aesthetic quality. I like the clean simplicity of porcelain's color and texture as a foundation for my body of work. I use a clear glaze that softens the surface but allows the porcelain to speak strongly.

What do you love about your workspace or studio?

My studio is a pretty solitary place. As much as I like to socialize, working alone in dedicated space focuses me on the project at hand. What was the inspiration for a recent piece? I recently developed a new small cup form for coffee. Often, I receive requests from customers — some intriguing, some not so much. I recently started drinking espresso in small cups instead of drip coffee in a big mug. That, combined with enough people inquiring about small mugs at shows inspired me to design and make a small-sized coffee cup for my collection.

Through sketching and prototyping, I now make an 8-ounce handled cup that I'm quite fond of. It is simple in form and plays with the geometry of cylinders and squares. (Geometry was the one math class I really enjoyed in high school.) I found that, depending on perspective, a cylinder can be rectangular, so the cup itself is a straight cylinder while the handle remains circular.

Can you share a personal highlight of the 2014 PMA Craft Show — other than winning the award, of course!

There were several potters at the show last year I look up to as masters of the field and having the chance to meet them and see their work in person was a highlight for me. I also loved exploring Philadelphia, a city I really love to spend time in.

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November 05 2014

Did you catch the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show on CBS3's TalkPhilly at noon today? Ceramicist Liz Kinder and emerging artist Rachel Sherman were great!

 

 

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October 22 2014

This in-the-studio video gives us a look into the artistic process of Nicole Aquillano, one of the Show’s emerging artists. Now based in Boston, Nicole grew up in Pittsburgh, and she’s been revisiting her roots during a residency at the Society for Contemporary Craft, where this video was taken.

Nicole says she “makes work about place” and has been enjoying exploring the place where she grew up in her latest work while interacting with visitors to the Society’s exhibition space and store. See more photos and read about her residency on her website.

“I am forever influenced by my longing to return to the comfort and stability of home, which I satisfy by creation of work with the ability to establish intimate connections,” says Nicole. “I draw subtle narratives on functional work to elicit memories of times past. I create a story you can hold in your hand forever.”

 

 

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August 05 2014

Cliff Lee came into prominence in 1993 when he was invited to contribute a piece of his work to the White House Collection of American Crafts. Two years later his work was in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery. His work can now be found in several major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition catalog for 'History in the Making: Renwick Craft Invitational 2011' says Cliff Lee "stands alone in his sensitivity to the source and the intensity with which he channels China's ceramic past into contemporary American work."

What first interested you in working in your medium?

In the beginning, I was a neurosurgeon. On my sabbatical, I took a ceramics course to be therapeutic and then I got hooked. My colleagues thought I was crazy, but now that we’re in our 70s, they think differently. It’s been a win-win situation for me—I could prolong my career doing something I love.

What is special about the medium you work with? How does it inform the work you create? 

It’s almost like meditation—I just forget everything, sitting at the potter’s wheel. Also, I like clay!  I’m Chinese, I come from a family where my parents didn’t allow us to play with clay. They thought only wild kids out in the country played with clay, so I wasn’t allowed. But they collected Chinese porcelain—I lived with it, and was exposed to it early on. Porcelain is an immense challenge. I’m a type “A” person, so of course I picked up porcelain. I like challenges, I always want to pursue the best; it’s the most difficult things I want to overcome.

What do you love about your workspace? 

My studio is a 210-year-old stone barn that we converted. I share the studio with my wife, the jeweler Holly Lee, who was just featured on the front cover of Ornament Magazine. It’s two stories, at 4,500 square feet. We got to design the studio to be exactly what I wanted—there’s a glaze room, a carving room, a kiln room and a showroom.

What was your inspiration for a recent piece?

A few years back when I took a trip to Hawaii, we went out to look at the volcanoes, at the lava fields. I saw that the leaves regenerated a few years later. I’ve been working with lava glaze, and carving and sculpting trees, leaves and flowers.

Cliff Lee was the 2013 Craft Show award winner for excellence in design and will return for this year’s show. Preview his work here. See the artist at work in his studio over several videos posted to his YouTube channel.

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April 29 2013

Eric Boos starts with his porcelain forms - in all white - and then adds vibrant glazes in bold colors. What we're left with are clean, sumptuous lines and forms. He's a featured artist at Philly's Snyderman-Works Gallery in Old City. Don't miss him.

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