Topic: Articles

From the Editor: February 2016


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Sarah Kaye and La Marzocco Home collaborated on the design for these cups made specifically for the company’s home-use espresso machines. The cups are available online and in the company’s Seattle showroom. They will also be in the company’s flagship café once it opens in the Seattle Center. La Marzocco is named after the symbol of Florence, Italy—a seated lion with the crest of the Florentine Lily—and a stylized lion logo created using a wooden stamp is featured on the cups. Photo: Ben Blaze.

The focus of this issue, clay and design, is as much about collaboration as it is about the intersection of studio ceramics and industry. As the editorial staff researched ideas for the issue, we noticed connections beyond the use of industrial techniques or partnerships with companies, namely the creative interactions and collaborative development of ideas that are possible when working with people outside of the studio.

Collaborations with individuals, groups, or a company can be a welcome change from a mostly solitary studio practice and lead to unexpected results. I’ve experienced this first hand. Some of my pieces involve elements that I need to ask other people to fabricate and then refine. For example, I am handy with materials and tools in a ceramics studio, but not so much with the materials and larger power tools found in a wood or metal shop. Over the years, a number of people have gone beyond simply constructing what I had envisioned; they have also made the pieces better through their own contributions.

Through these projects and interactions, I have become more aware of the possibilities of surface designs made using CAD drawings and CNC milling machines. While I don’t have those tools in my own basement studio, there’s a local community art workshop (the Columbus Idea Foundry) that provides expertise and access to use tools like this. It also provides designers, artists, businesspeople, and DIY folks with a space to interact with one another. These types of communal creative spaces providing pay-as-you-go access to price-prohibitive or high-tech equipment are becoming more common.

The artists featured in this issue have come up with other solutions for projects requiring equipment or expertise that they did not have access to in their own studios. Cj O’Neill discusses the ways that she partners with companies, facilities, and individuals for her custom decals, water-jet cut plates, plaster molds, and occasionally slip-cast greenware to produce pieces for large-scale commissions. She also shares the experience of other artists, and provides tips for finding resources and partnerships.

Noriko Masuda has taken what she learned from internship experiences working for small-scale factories and designers (as well as modelling teeth in her father’s dentist office) and used those experiences to launch her own line of tableware that blends aesthetics from both East and West as well as techniques from both industry and studio.

This month’s Spotlight artist, Sarah Kaye, collaborated with La Marzocco Home to create espresso, cappuccino, and latte cups (see image below) for use with the company’s home-use espresso machines. Kaye explains how the final design represents the combined vision of the creative team she was part of.

The Studio Visit features Patricia Griffin, who uses expertise from her earlier career in marketing and design to further her own studio practice and business, housed in a one-room school house in a coastal California town popular with tourists.

The architect and designer who teamed up to form Emerging Objects, a 3-D printing firm focusing on architectural and building components, have designed evaporative cooling bricks that could be incorporated into buildings in arid settings instead of air conditioning.

Want to explore using tools, techniques, or materials that are outside of your current knowledge base? Consider one of the approaches shared by the artists in this issue, and be sure to check out the resources shared by Cj O’Neill (on pages 40 and 42), then go get started.

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