The Power of Handmade

I was once asked how I achieve the primitive look in my ceramics. The only answer I could give is that I just do the best I can, and that’s how things turn out. Despite my sincerest efforts, the result of my labors is always just a little crooked or a bit off center. If one accepts a wabi-sabi philosophy, imperfections are a sign of humbleness and humanness, guiding one toward a gentler, more tolerant definition of beauty.

new vase in progress

I consider my work to be a dialogue between me and the clay. Sometimes the clay has something to say. Sometimes I disagree and vice versa.  Oftentimes, I wish my creation were just a bit more perfect. But my method of creating involves making molds. Once a piece has been cast in plaster, it is around for quite some time. Not until many pieces are made, worked on, and then used repeatedly, do I come to understand and appreciate the irregularity of my shapes. The process, like relationships with people and forming friendships, takes time.

pouring molds, kRI kRI Studio

The imperfections of my original works are in my molds, permanently. There is nothing I can do but accept them. Therein comes the wabi-sabi sensibility. In humbleness, I put my heart and soul into my work. In return, I bond with my forms, getting a feeling of purpose and integrity in what I do.

Creating things and having elements of handmade in our lives helps us develop our sensitivities to differences and to be more mindful. Handmade creations are imperfect by nature. That is what gives them their charm. So, it is with people too. We are all individuals, quirky, unique, awkward, and each special. Long days in my studio allow me time to think and devote my attention to the clay. As I do, it speaks to me and whispers, “When talking with others, listen to them. Try to hear what they are really saying. Respect them. In this way you come to understand them and accept them in all their imperfections.” The clay also asks for patience.

I have sense of mission while I work. I want the care I take with my ceramics to be passed along to the user. By encouraging my customers to not just admire, but to handle and use my ceramics, I hope they will connect with the human element of ‘’handmade’’. I believe it is important to make room for handmade objects in our homes and in our daily lives. With their wabi-sabi character and imperfect beauty, they have the power to enrich our lives. Just listen.

Read more of my thoughts on wabi-sabi on Beyond The Beige

Developing a product idea

hanging pendant lamp prototype
1st prototype for pendant lamp

The beginning of a new product starts with a need and an idea.

A good time to develop a new product is when you spot a perceived need in the market place or see that your current product range is lacking something. Your idea is the piece that fills the need your other products don’t.

Alternatively, the need can be a creative urge. Sometimes a new idea just comes to us, in a dream for example (!) and one is compelled to create it. These ideas can be off the wall and unique, but because they have passion behind them, they can also be good ones.

What will I do with this shape?

Both are great ways to begin. In general however, it isn’t the first attempt at building a new product that results in a finished one. Once started, the idea gets formed, reformed and tweaked many times. One thing is certain though, one needs to start and if there is no need, the product will be pointless.

I have wanted to add a pendant lamp to my range for some time. I really like them, and my range of lamps lacks any. But where to start? One reason it takes me so long to get to ideas that I have simmering on the back burner is lack of time. So, to get things jump started, I often begin with old ideas. For my pendant lamps I slip cast a couple of vases and lamp bases and tried turning them upside down. In the past, I’ve sliced parts off pieces I already have and stuck them together in new ways. This is an excellent way for me to get something physical to work on.

images of hand built ceramic pendant lamps in progress in kRI kRI Studio
Modified Bubble vase becomes start for small pendant lamp

Because it’s challenging for me to work on designing 3D objects using 2D drawings, having a basic prototype to work out technical details with is indispensable. I can get a feel for proportions by adding to or subtracting from my working model and bring the form in line with my concept and aesthetic. It is also easier for me to figure out hardware issues when I have an actual object in front of me.

I get so excited when I start actualizing a new idea. I want only to work on that and nothing else. But it takes time. For me, having a work in progress present in the studio is valuable time for getting to know it. The prototype gets moved around as I juggle space for other projects. It is viewed in different lights and in relation to other things in the studio and I have the opportunity to fine tune and refine the shape. Along the way, problems or flaws can be detected and dealt with as I tend to daily production tasks. The time it takes to get things right is time well spent. Once a mold is made, there is very little that can be done to change it… that is until it becomes part of an idea for a new product!

small bubble table lamp compared with bubble vase
Bubble table lamp with bubble vase

One of the benefits of starting the way I do is that the objects in my range end up having a relationship to one another. Although I ultimately end up creating a fresh original form from scratch for my new product, most of the design development takes place in the 3D “sketches” I do using my older designs. A new “original” is essential in making the mold. The shape must be scaled up to allow for shrinking of the plaster in the mold and of the clay in the slip casting and firing stages. And this is only the beginning!

After I have created the new mold, I begin to know the new piece. By handling it, taking it out of the mold, trimming it and glazing it, I learn the personality of my product. When I really know what it’s all about, I am best able to choose the right colors for it and promote it effectively. Not surprisingly, my customers and followers give me loads of useful feedback helping me in this process. Its not always direct. No response is a response. I try to always keep listening. This is how to become aware of needs, and it’s a great way to get new ideas!

I hope you find these thoughts provoking if not helpful as you enjoy handmade objects or as you create and develop your own products. If you have any feedback, ideas or suggestions on this topic, you are most welcome to share!

Thanks,

*-*

Kristin

Welcome Autumn

table lamp, ceramic, handmade, seattle, kri kri, interior lighting

table lamp, ceramic, handmade, seattle, kri kri, interior lightingHello and Happy Autumn!

Thanks to all of you who visited the VIT ceramics booth at Dwell on Design in June!
This year, I exhibited the VIT collection in white and it was very well received. I also felt a strong response to the handmade element of VIT ceramics. Today we are surrounded by technology and super refined, highly produced, objects. Though definitely not undesirable, it seems that in response to so much tech, we are becoming more attracted to handmade objects and the beautiful irregularity inherent in artisan-crafted pieces. Dwell on design gave me the opportunity to witness, first hand, the smiles on peoples as they entered the Kri Kri Studio booth and relaxed, surrounded by handmade ceramics.

Along with introducing white to my range, I started using a vintage style, white twist cord with the VIT ceramics lamps. This carries through with the thin white stripe detail and creates a more polished product. I love the texture and the way this cord drapes!

ceramic lamp, handmade, kri kri studio, seattle, VIT ceramics, vintage cord, small details

Also New: The Bubble Lamp; Transformed with a drum shade, this small piece is ideal for bedsides, entry ways and cozy spaces!

handmade, ceramic lamp, table lamp, kri kri studio, seattle, VIT ceramics, blackhandmade, ceramic lamp, table lamp, kri kri studio, seattle, VIT ceramics, celadon

handmade, ceramic lamp, table lamp, kri kri studio, seattle, VIT ceramics, yellow

 

A busy summer has made for an exciting Autumn! I am now working on samples of lamps and vases using my new color, “Chocolate brown”. For a look at these delicious options, visit Kri Kri studio on Instagram .

Newest in the vase range is a Tall Square vase.

tall vase, handmade ceramics, square, pottery, seattle, kri kri, vit ceramics

Both elegant and quirky, this shape can stand on its own holding a bountiful bouquet. Used in pairs, the Tall Square vase creates balance and drama on mantles and sideboards. I look forward to filling  a chocolate version with fall colors!

Wishing you all a stimulating transition into the new season!

*-*

Kristin

Summer’s Gift

I am always on the alert for unexpected beauty and props that can be used in my photo shoots. In August it was clumps of wild fennel and rampant hot pink sweet peas that caught my attention.vase, ceramic, white, VIT, kri, krikri, Seattle

These hardy plants, plucked from the urban jungle, threaten to look more like weeds than botanical inspirations at times. However, the bright shock of pink and simple yellow-green sprays of seeds were perfect elements for highlighting my organic shapes. I utilized them over and over again.

bud, vase, white, VIT, ceramics, kri, krikri, studio, Seattle

The more time I spend photographing my work the better I come to know and understand what it is that makes them special. I see how surfaces respond to different lighting conditions. I also take note of how glaze colors interact with a variety of flowers and foliage. I grow to appreciate the irregularities of each handmade form.

cup, small, tiny, sake, ceramic, VUIT, kri, krikri, studio, seattle

This past spring I began posting images regularly on Instagram. The discipline started as a necessary task. These days posting is a satisfying activity, like making a daily journal entry. It is a time for me to slow down and take a moment to see and think about what is beautiful in my work. It is my reward for sweating over it day after day!
You can follow my photo journal: https://instagram.com/krikristudio/

Kri Kri Studio | Dwell on Design

Kri Kri Studio | Dwell on Design.

The last weekend in May, kRI kRI stUDio, goes on the road, to LA, with her lamps and vases. Come see it all, in person! The Dwell show is always stimulating and inspiring!

VIT gourd lamp

2015 motto

2015, fortune cookie messageRather than make a new years resolution, it has become my custom to instead select a motto to rally me for the coming year. This one came to me just before mid-night in a fortune cookie at the New Years Eve party. I think it was the best one of the bunch and one worth sharing.

“Be yourself. No one is more qualified.” How do we do this? As an artist, this statement is particularly meaningful as far as my work is concerned. I am always trying to understand and define my own style. It is easy to get distracted by creativity all around, many ideas and so much possibility.  It is not difficult to lose focus and confidence in what one does. Part of what this year’s motto says to me is, enjoy and appreciate the work of others, but don’t under-value your own efforts. I continue to look at my ceramics to decide what the strong points are and find the essentials. Focus on the positive. Trim away the superfluous. This works for the self too. The fortune cookie message also suggests that if I define and follow my own artistic sensibilities and can be myself, I will be happier. In 2015 I am taking time to see the best of what I do and who I am, and will try to do it better. Now, that’s starting to sound like a resolution!

 

wild sweet peas

vit ceramics, set of 3, bud vases, budvases

Found roaming the wilds of Aurora Avenue in Seattle, home of Kri Kri Studio.
Vibrant magenta blossoms invade the weeds this this time of year thriving in an environment that seems to provide little assistance. Bringing them in adds life to still shots of bud vases. Must remember: I am shooting vases, not flowers. Natures beauty far surpasses my simple pieces. Yet they do have their place. Now a pink glow radiates from this cluster of vases brightening my day.

I found a table…

I found a table… under my table cloth.

Kri Kri nook set up for photo shoot
Kri Kri Studio nook set up for photo shoot

The table had been lurking around the family for years, employed as a project table for anything that involved paint, glue or in other words, anything messy. But, it just happened to be the perfect size for the nook at Kri Kri Studio. Of course, the first thing I did to it, once it was in place, was to cover it with a perky, oilcloth table cloth. And so it was for many years.

Eve vase in black in nook at Kri Kri Studio
Oilcloth covering perfect patina

Recently, I was preparing for a photo-shoot of the black Eve vase. The nook is a perfect spot. I’ve suspended a rail on the wall for hanging a back drop and hung plastic film over the windows to diffuse the light. Set up also involves ironing the back drops. In the process of all this, the perky table cloth slipped a bit more than usual and I caught a glimpse of the table below. That crusty surface, evolved from years of use was now revealed a a rich patina, perfectly rustic and so inspiring that I spent more of my day shooting than planned.

VIT ceramics bud vase set
Rustic table with modern bud vases

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work became play as I pulled out my VIT dinnerware, then, added bud vases and vibrant fuchsia sweet peas picked in my ally.

Isn’t that how it always should be?!

VIT ceramics, bud vase with sweet peas, pear shape
pear shaped bud vases w/sweet peas

“Chocko”

VIT ceramics, lamps, chocko lamp, ceramic lamp, handmade ceramic lamp, modern, contemporary ceramics,
VIT Chocko lamp with vases

With the “Chocko” lamp base, soft geometry and a subtly dimpled surface are combine to create a functional, modern piece with a friendly appeal. The thin white stripes are raised. A simple linen shade continues the textured elements. This is the newest addition to the VIT ceramics range of lamps.

Form takes the fore front in this grouping of vases where I have let the warm gray and taupe seduce me. When the element of color is reduced, these simple shapes become elegant. The effect is calm. Filled with white flowers these handmade, contemporary vessels add gentle beauty to a home environment.

From right to left: Eve vase; 11″h x 6″w, bubble vase; 6.5″h x 6″w, round bud; 2.75″h x 3″w, torso vase; 9″h x 5″w; pear bud; 3.25″ x 2.5″w