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

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!

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Kristin

The value of Handmade

studio, kri kri, tall gourd lamp, work in progress
Kri Kri adding stripes to Tall Gourd lamp base

“What value, if any, do handmade objects add to our lives and homes today?”

One of the first things I notice is that items that are not machine made  seem to stand out from the crowd of other objects in a room. Regardless of how skillfully it is made, the handmade object has a life of its own. A handmade piece of cloth, or a painting versus a print, can completely change how a room feels. I could say, “It adds warmth.” But what is that “warmth”?

Every item that has been hand crafted captures some of the human energy that went into making it. That is something that can’t be replicated by a machine. That is the “warmth”. An item made by hand is tactile. Primitive or not, that item contains a spirit and becomes a manifestation of our creative potential. Having artisan made objects around me gives me inspiration, indirectly. They do not make me feel that I need to create. Instead, I feel more connected to my human-ness in a comforting way.

A handmade object is imperfect. Perhaps that makes it more relaxing to be around. We are not perfect beings either. Subtly, one is reminded that there is beauty or at least charm in the irregular. Those who love crafts have come to appreciate those inevitable flaws.

It is my belief that handmade objects do add value to our lives. As technology continues to play a bigger role in our lives, it is important to remember how much our hands can do and discover. Handmade connects us to other humans in a sensual way. Handmade reminds us that we are creative beings, with flaws. Could it be possible that having more handmade objects in our lives might nudge us to be more accepting of ourselves and our human imperfections? Can those faults be quirks and considered endearing traits and characterful? More to ponder!

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!

 

Black and white: the tall gourd lamp

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My recent open house at Kri Kri Studio gave me an opportunity to play around with my lamps, something I rarely get to do because I am so busy making them! When I found myself short of large drum shades for the tall gourd lamp, I plunked a shade for the space needle lamp on it. The result was a playful contrast of size and shape; the shade being narrow and wide, the base narrow and tall. (dimensions: 15″ wide x 24″ tall)

lamp, ceramic design, VIT ceramics, Kri Kri Studio, ceramic lighting, pottery lamp, tall table lamp                                                                                 It was my good fortune to also have free access to the store room of shades from Insatiable Studios to top lamps on display. Of the 4 pieces I chose, one was the large drum with a diamond motif pictured here. These handmade rice paper shades add another layer of craft to the VIT ceramic lamps.   (dimensions: 14″ wide x 28″ tall)

Lamps are not something that people rush in to by by the armful. I held this first open house in the evening so that the lamps could be appreciated and I didn’t offer much else for sale. My aim was to have folks to enjoy each other and I wanted to be able to hang out and get to know my customers better. If you would like to be on my mailing list for the next event (Dec. 6th) Please get in touch with me. I’d love to invite you!

Up Cycle

Dwell, tradeshow, VIT ceramics, kri kri studio,
VIT ceramics booth, Dwell on Design 2014

It was a big push to get Kri Kri Studio to the Dwell on Design show in Los Angeles. Over the course of one year, I built the range of VIT ceramic lamps up from one model to five and added the Eve vase to the vase collection.

But developing and producing products is only part of the picture. I also needed a booth to display my wares. It needed to be designed, built, shipped to the show and set up on site. This time around I was on a pretty tight budget and challenged myself to get the job done spending as little money as possible by re-using as many materials as I could.

VIT ceramics, Dwell booth, LA convention center
Ready for set up

My friends Lauren Grossman and Jil Smith shared some valuable input that helped me to arrive at a solution for displaying my products. I also got inspiration from the postcard that my husband, Nigel Foster, designed for the show.

From just down the street at Terra Bella Flowers I scored two, thick 10′ long 2 x 10 planks. These became shelves for the lamps on the back wall. Just by cutting down wheel barrow handles a few inches, I instantly had some shapely supports for the rather substantial shelving. I used canvas salvaged from a previous display to cover the shelves and re-painted them. Smaller pieces of wood for the side wall shelves were easier to find. These I covered with a re-purposed straw blind from IKEA which added texture and visual variety. Bits and pieces from my tableware booths at NYIGF were re-used to build the freestanding box that doubled as a storage compartment. Perhaps the “VIT” letters  had seen better days, but, I left them on the canvas for one last go.

transforming booth 619
transforming booth 619

the foundations are ready
the foundations are ready

A lot of sweat equity went into this booth, but in the end, the only things I needed to purchase were brackets and screws, wheel barrow handles and paint. I did opt to buy a gray sisal rug with dark trim instead of renting the standard one. The cost was about the same but the resulting look was much classier.

unpacking
unpacking

 

I will also add that I found my pallet (free) in the industrial district of Seattle. After it came back, I recycled it easily by sticking it outside the studio with a “free” sign on it.

 

 

 

 

When it was all over, I felt the booth displayed both lamps and vases to good advantage. Visitors stepped in and were genuinely enthusiastic about my products. Now I have connections to follow-up on and am thinking forward, imagining what my booth will be like next year.

“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