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!

Black and white: the tall gourd lamp

black, lamp, VIT lamp, ceramic design, ceramic lamp, custom lamp, kri kristudio

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.

Meet the Gourd

VIT ceramics, lamps, chocko, gourd, vase, torso, pottery lamps, ceramics lamps, moderrn, contemporary
VIT torso vase in gray, Chocko lamp & Gourd lamp in coral

 

The Gourd lamp is the latest shape in my collection of  handmade ceramic lamps from Kri Kri Studio. This June they will debut at the dwell on design 2014 show in LA along with the VIT ceramics range of vases.

The form has a slightly irregular perfection, the result of being built up by hand using the coil and pinch technique. This method of construction also allows for traces of the artist’s touch to remain in the softly textured surface. Large, ripe and full of life, the form adds warmth to a room, especially in juicy coral-red. With each available color the personality and mood of the piece changes. Considered in gray, the Gourd lamp is feminine and elegant. However, in yellow it is positively buoyant! Jade green, taupe and Danish blue are also offered.

Creating this collection has been a refreshing change from producing my tableware. I feel I am returning to my roots as a sculptor and find that the lamps are a wonderful vehicle for expressing forms. They are also a pleasing way to combine art and functionality.

With a simple off white linen shade to compliment the hand drawn white stripes, the Gourd lamp stands 22″ tall x 15″ wide.

“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

Stripes on rice!

VIT lamp base, Insatiable studios, striped shade,
VIT lamp base in taupe with striped shade from Insatiable Studios

Jil Smith of Insatiable Studios surprised me last week with one of her creations,  an amazing rice paper shade, custom striped, to partner with a tall VIT lamp base. Each shade has been built up with layers of rice paper. Each stripe is cut by hand with a razor. Jil’s shades are surprisingly durable and not prone to fading. I like how she has taken the stripes and applied them horizontally to the shade. The result of pairing this shade with the vertical stripes on the VIT base creates a lamp with a completely different character than the same lamp with a white shade. I look forward to seeing the stripes in other colors next.

It is a pleasure to be collaborating with someone like Jil who has a similar commitment to enduring style and quality.

If you would like to have your own custom made lamp shade, contact Jil Smith through her web site; www.insatiablestudios.com

Bubble lamp

lamp, lighting, hand made base, ceramic base, small lamp, made in USA VIT ceramics, Kri Kri Studio
Danish blue blue bubble lamp

Getting a finished lamp this week from a form that I built over a month a go has been so much fun! It takes some patience, but happily, the processes has been speedier than it might have been due to the warm summer weather we are having here in Seattle. Finally I am able to fuss with the different lamp parts I have been assembling, choosing the nickle plated, chrome colored ones to go with the Danish blue base, and happy with how the antique brass parts go with the yellow/red and gray/red bases. The white lamp shade that I bought ages ago in anticipation of this moment clips on to the bulb and is quite an appropriate for this chubby little lamp. I visualize it on a nightstand or small table. It is perfect for small dwellings that crave precious, not pretentious furnishings. Not machine perfect, high quality artisan craftsmanship, handmade with care. See more variations of this lamp at http://vitceramics.com/lampsvitceramics-com.shtml