“Fabric”

VIT ceramics, kiln view, kri kri studio, Seattle
a view of the inside

…mulling over the word “fabric”, which means factory in Swedish and suggests fabrication in English. In English, fabric means cloth and can imply weaving. These ideas circulate in my mind as I unload my latest bisque firing. The “fabrik”, ie. the small factory that is Kri Kri Studio, is back in full gear since taking a break over the winter holidays. With just a short amount of time to fill a large order for the Seattle Art Museum’s gift shop, I have been “fabricating” everyday since I returned from the UK. Kri Kri bowls and “Smile cups” will complement the upcoming Miro exhibit which opens there in February. Also in the works are vases for shops thinking ahead to spring and a push to finish all the heart plates so that they will be ready ship and to serve up some love on Valentine’s Day.

The more I think about it, the more it reminds me of the year I spent weaving in Sweden. By varying colors and shifting shapes, I am weaving together the seasons with ceramics. Over the course of the year a textured tapestry of wares is fabricated. Images of food and fashion inspire me as I flip through magazines on my lunch break, munching my salad and feasting on fantasy. I ponder over which glazes will make particular dishes most appetizing. I think that photo shoot in Cuba has precisely the mood I would like to capture. Is it just that particular shade of yellow which gives it that feeling? Then, the factory calls me back to repeat the production cycle. I am stimulated to continue approaching my work with enthusiasm for process and to be creative. It’s OK. I love it. This is my passion!

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Simple beauty

VIT ceramics, bowl vase, taupe, Danish blue, cyclamen, handmade pottery, Kri Kri Studio, Seattle
VIT ceramics bowl vase, danish blue with cyclamen

It is really easy to make a classy statement with the VIT bowl vase. Short in stature and full in body, it happily hosts a proper bouquet. It is also the perfect size for a 4″, potted plant. (5″ tall x 7.5″ wide)
Potted cyclamens can be found in almost every supermarket this time of year. I chose the white one because it was so pure and pristine. I plopped the pot straight into the Danish blue vase for an instant and elegant result. An equally pleasing combination had white flowers in a taupe vase with graceful, snow bright buds hovering above deep green foliage. Very uplifting!

A pink cyclamen at the store had pale blossoms, hinting of cerise, and was ever so tempting. Those dainty petals beckoned me like sirens’ whispers. But, in the end it was two plants with white flowers that came home with me. I kept one for myself. The second found a nesting place in a jade green VIT bowl vase and went on as a hostess gift. The plants may be re-planted in the garden when spring arrives. The recipient will however, will have her own bowl vase to play with, to plop pots of plants into or to fill with proper bouquets.

Gift box

VIT ceramics, box, set tiny cups, sake cups, porcelain
VIT salt dishes in pine box
vit, tiny, porcelain, salt dish, cup, set, pine box
VIT gray and taupe porcelain tiny cups, boxed set

Just in! My custom made pine boxes have arrived at last! I am hopeless when it come to small wooden boxes. These wooden boxes have sliding tops and smell of pine. They bring back memories of pencil boxes filled with with freshly sharpened pencils or empty ones, received as a kid, waiting to hold precious treasure. I will be filling these boxes with pairs of tiny VIT porcelain cups in combinations of gray and taupe, and gray and Danish blue. Both are pleasing in their simplicity and become more precious in the wooden package. Unique, practical, easy to ship, the tiny sets make a delightful gift. Partner them with a special salt, or a small bottle of liqueur to make it deluxe!

Winter’s blush

holiday vases, holiday decor, christmas collection
VIT winter palette; gray pear bud vase, red torso vase, gray w/red bubble vase

Though it may not be know for its floral abundance, winter opens our eyes to subtle beauty. After Autumn’s winds have blown, trees’ leaves lie rotting back into the soil, only graceful armatures remaining. Bring them into your home to appreciate the details of their bark’s color and texture as well as the lines they make in space. I am thinking about this as I select and combine different pieces from the VIT holiday collection. Quiet warm gray is elegant with the soothing coziness of fresh thick snow outside. Berry red, bright, pops out and reminds one of flocks of small brown birds that swarm in on a bush, chatter and feast, then, blast away to new shelter. The branches were a lucky find on my walk to the studio. Placed with care, they flatter both the taller, “Torso” vase and the chubby “Bubble” vase. And it doesn’t take much to fill the “pear” bud vase. I am inspired by these humble sticks!

ABC: a bounty of chanterelles!

VIT dinner plate, taupe, VIT large bowl, chanterelle mushrooms
VIT large bowl and dinner plate in taupe with chanterelles mushrooms

Just before the big rains hit last weekend (almost 2″ in about as many days), my brother Brad and his wife, Jian, dumped several pounds of gorgeous, golden chanterelles on our doorstep. Without hesitation, I began spreading them out on newspaper so that they wouldn’t get soggy. When I am ready to cook, I begin by sauteing them, or heating them in a skillet to cook off the water they contain. This is a good way to concentrate the flavors. Once the excess water is removed, wine, white or red, can be added to create the foundation of a lovely sauce that can be used on pasta, meat dishes or as base for soup. Just add a little salt and pepper, some butter perhaps, and extend with creme fraiche or sour cream.

I picked up my basic knowledge of wild mushroom preparation from my husband, Nigel Foster, a veteran outdoors man and amateur mycologist from way back. Together we have hunted many a kilo of chanterelles during autumn kayaking trips in Sweden. To this day, I have yet to find a chanterelle in my home state of Washington, although they are abundant in the Pacific Northwest. Every fall, I purchase them for a good price at local Asian markets. Chanterelles are a gourmet treat that can be had for free, if one takes the initiative to seek them. With an absolutely singular flavor, and among the richest sources of vitamin D known, the delicious chanterelle is a signal to me that autumn has arrived. I enjoy them fresh while I can and make sure to dry a few to savor later on in the winter when their prime has passed!

105 years

urn, cremation urn, Grammie, cremation ashes,
Grammie’s urn
urn, detail, cremation urn, cremation ashes
Detail of Grammie’s urn

My Grammie came over from England when she was 4 years old and lived more than 100 years in the USA. My father, her son, and his sister asked me to make an urn for her ashes when she passed away in June.

Evelyn Nelson Hildebrand was widowed in the 1950’s and went to work sewing drapes. She delayed retirement, to work for unionization of her shop. She was fair and just, and took time to write her congress-person on issues she felt strongly about. In her late 60’s she re-married Dick Hildebrand. They lived in her house in Tacoma Washington, ate lunch out almost daily at MacDonalds or Jack in the Box and walked the water front. Together they celebrated her 100th birthday. He passed away a year later when he was 93. Grammie, as we grand-kids called her, went to live with my cousin Randi and her family after that.

Grammie was spunky and loved dancing. She and Dick were always first out on the dance floor. When I came to visit she always had a joke to tell, frequently over a glass of jug wine. Once, when we were out to lunch together, (she was then in her 90’s), the waitress asked her if she would like some water. “Water?”, she said, “It will only make me rust! I’ll have a beer”.  When she could no longer remember jokes, Grammie used her natural sense of humor to her advantage. When her hearing failed her, she enjoyed turning around what someone had said that she didn’t quite catch, into something quite ridiculous and funny.

Grammie’s was the first urn I have made. I thought long and hard about how it should be. As I was running one evening and mulling over my task, the concept came to me. Grammie was thoughtful, loving and kind; feminine with a beautiful spirit. She appreciated simple and good. Her urn should capture that essence. I chose a flower shape and made it curvy. The colors, because she wore reds and pinks when she dressed up, and her living room was bright, warm and yellow. I made her urn with love. This project was an honor and a challenge which I thoroughly appreciated. It allowed very special  time to remember her.

Succulent

VIT round vase, taupe with succulent
VIT round vase with succulent

Stick small succulent in round vase. Tough to decide which color looks best. They all looked good. Each brought out different colors in the plant. But it needed to be just a bit higher. A little sand does the trick. Now its a gift! I take advantage of the moment and snap some shots. The best one was the one taken when I returned to the kitchen a few hours later. Lower sun and long shadows make the moment.
I got my succulent at Terra Bella Flowers… there are still some left.

I ate the clementines on my way home. Succulent!

In the balance

VIT vasesds grayvase-branch
Saturday’s bouquet has been whittled down to one last un-wilted sprig. As I twist and position the vase to be photographed, increasingly the branch becomes the object of my focus. Like a mobile by Calder, the leaves and their joints circulate in space creating shadows and patterns (that distract from my lovely handmade torso vase!) Soft, silver green shapes are simple and graphic, bringing calm to the kitchen I stage my shoot in. The vase I ponder has similar qualities. It acts as an anchor for the floating foliage. A feminine form in warm gray with thin white stripe detailing, the vase has its own sculptural presence. Equally important is its supporting role; to let the contents take the stage.

The power of salt

VIT, salt, salt dish
VIT salt dishes

Alternate use for tiny sake cups: salt dishes. This pink flaky salt came from the Murray River in Australia. Bringing it back to the USA in my hand baggage caused me some delay in customs. After convincing the authorities that it really was only salt, I discovered that it is easily found at my local market. Much of the pleasure of the specialty salts for me is in the variety of the texture and color. These soft, apricot pink crystals dissolve on the tongue and add sparkle to food. Hawaiian black lava salt that I purchased for the photo shoot was true to its name, possessing the texture of crushed lava. However, it provided a good color contrast to the pale hued dishes as well a curious flavor contrast to the Murray River salt.
These small dishes have been on the kitchen table in the studio for days now. I snap photos of them when the light is right, sometimes dipping in a wet finger. This Monday, when I was done for the day and locking up, I noticed that my shadow on the table made these amazing wave patterns visible. The resulting images seem to capture the “power of salt”. I left with my new images, thinking beyond color and texture and began to ponder the necessity of salt to our bodies and about its history on planet Earth. Salt, pretty powerful stuff!