From Idea to Finished Form 2016


Mike Cinelli, Taylor Mississippi

I begin my process with a sketch, using historical forms as the basis for the drawings. Lately, I’ve been incorporating glass domes into my forms. These domes are a fixed size and give me a starting place to begin working out the dimensions of the finished pot that maintains the same proportions of the sketch. After determining all the dimensions for the finished piece, I then adjust those numbers to account for shrinkage (I use a smooth earthenware fired to cone 03, giving me approximately 10½% shrinkage) and then throw the pot on the wheel. After the pot is thrown and allowed to dry, colored terra sigillata is applied and the pot is bisque fired to cone 04.

For the drawings on the pot, I use a completely different approach. I sketch only the most basic idea of the drawing. I’ve found free-hand painting the images, rather than transferring finished drawings, gives them more life. The images are painted on in layers using underglazes and are often fired multiple times. Once the drawings feel finished, the pot is glaze fired to cone 03, followed by a luster firing to cone 017.

1 Amphora, 24 in. (61 cm) in height, earthenware, terra sigillata, underglaze, fired to 03 in an electric kiln, with a final luster firing to 017.

2 All pots start with a sketch; I try to match the measurements in the drawing as close as possible when creating the actual pot.

Kira Kalondy, Terre Haute, Indiana

My creative process begins with an idea, a concept, or a feeling to be expressed, which takes shape using different forms created on the wheel that are later modified through a combined constructive/deconstructive approach.

I am interested in the shared traits of procreation, fertility, and multiplicity between human beings and nature. These ceramic vessels represent my interaction with and observation of nature, and my communication with other individuals. They symbolize a symbiosis between me as a human being and nature, or symbiosis between the feminine and masculine attributes found within myself and within every organism when they are in perfect balance.

Through my work I strive to create pieces that speak of life, nature, volume, fluidity, and, and the same time, organic simplicity.

1 Hand-drawn sketch. 2 Inspirational image of a black tulip. A flower is a symbol of delicacy and fragility, which has a great complexity in form and color, making it unique even among the same species. Photo: Virginie Lenoir/Piabay.

3 Black tulip, 8 in. (20 cm), wheel-thrown and altered earthenware, slip, glaze, 2016.


Antonio Martinez, Lawrence, Kansas

When first starting to create a new form, sketches serve as a quick way to lay down lines and shapes to get ideas onto paper. These sketches are inspired by industrial and geometric objects from my past and present. After sketching, cardboard prototypes are made and rearranged to get a better idea of how these objects will exist in real space. When prototypes are at a point that I am happy with, I cut them apart to use as templates for making that object out of earthenware.

Once bone dry, I brush on terra sigillata colored with Mason stains before bisque firing. A wash of either red iron oxide or black copper oxide is added then followed by chalk lines of frit and different colors of Mason stains. Next, soda ash is sprinkled on, then the pot is sprayed with a cone 04 clear glaze to help the soda ash move. Finally, the piece is fired to cone 1 in oxidation.

1 Sketchbook drawings for teapots, 2015.

2 Cardboard prototype cut to actual size and finalized tarpaper templates cut to actual size, 8½ in. (22 cm) in height, 2015.

3 Teapot, 8½ in. (22 cm) in height, slab-built earthenware, terra sigillata, Mason stains, Ferro frit 3124, nichrome wire, fired to cone 1 in oxidation, 2016.


Andrew McIntyre, Jackson, Mississippi

Inspiration for my ceramic work comes from many different sources, but my creativity really sparks when I am exploring thrift stores and antique consignment shops. I always gravitate toward antique drinking vessels and serving caddies. Taking pictures on my phone of these objects is how I document and archive ideas for future works.

Instead of using a sketchbook to plan out ideas, my creative process starts with compiling these images for inspiration and going straight to my wheel. My ideas flow through my hands with clay like pen to paper and my eyes reflect on what I have created and how it can be improved. I find that during this process of making, I usually navigate new ways of working through problems and creating beautiful mistakes.

1, 2 Serving caddies and drinking vessels discovered in thrift/consignment stores and antique shops provide inspiration for McIntyre’s forms.


3 Bourbon cups and bottle caddy set, to 16 in. (41 cm) in height, wheel-thrown stoneware with flashing slip (bottle and caddy), wood fired in an anagama kiln, porcelain with glaze (cups), fired in reduction, 2015.


Susan Nemeth, London, England

Fragility, vulnerability, and individuality are exposed in the handmade object.

My porcelain forms investigate how rapid sketching becomes more animate and anthropomorphic with repetition and how this translates into sculptures.

Early porcelain vessels of Meissen and Sèvres are my reference but these symbols of perfection eliminate the mark of the maker. Disrupting, simplifying, and transforming these objects with the imperfect touch creates a bare caricature.

When exploring the idea of the pot as a relic, womb, or container for precious objects, certain elements become pivotal. The opening may be an orifice or a wound, the belly may be swollen with imaginary contents, or a paunch bulging above a tall, narrow stem may emphasise insecurity.

My practice of making, destroying, and remaking parallels cycles of decay and renewal. I build, soak, push, squeeze, break, cut, tear, and repair, increasing motion in the making. The construction methods remain visible, similar to that of drawing, erasing, and adjusting.

Surfaces are often painted with layers of colored slip to present a skin-like membrane. Digitally printed ceramic transfers together with glaze and gold leaf allude to the porcelain’s history.

1 Transformations Drawings, 2015–16.

2 Fil et Ruban, 16–21 in. (42–53 cm) in height, coiled porcelain, colored slips, glaze, transfers, gold leaf, 2015.

3 Vase sculpture with hydrangea petals and blackcurrants, 23 in. (59 cm) in height, coiled porcelain, slips, transfers, gold leaf, 2016.

Yves Perrella, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The idea starts from the observation of the Moiré effect that occurs during the printing reproduction process, when any two, or more, repeating patterns overlap each other.

In particular, overlaying identical patterns with different angles generates interference phenomena between them and creates interesting designs and optical effects. The essential quality of a Moiré pattern is that it is a new pattern that emerges from two existing ones.

My research has focused on ceramics reproducing this kind of unexpected interaction between apparently regular and monotone patterns, scaling and adjusting them in order to maximize effects, trying a variety of different patterns, and also combining them. To transfer the Moiré motifs on clay, I usually use screen-printing techniques (directly on raw clay or using decals) through an adjustable screen-printing press that allows the rotation/translation of the ceramic slab during the screen-printing process.

1 Photo showing two transparencies of a pattern with holes overlaid to create a Moiré effect, with the resulting pattern screen printed onto decal paper, then transfered to the plate shown in image 2.

2 Serving plate, 10½ in. (27 cm) in diameter, screen printing on ball clay, fired to 1904°F (1040°C), 2016.

3 Serving plates, 7¾ in. (20 cm) in length, ball clay, fired to 1904°F (1040°C), screen printed decal fired to 1436°F (780°C), 2015.


Alison Reintjes, Missoula, Montana

My work is about the basic tenets of the visual experience—shape, color, and pattern. The Bent Line series began with paper stencils of each of the six individual parts. Each bend has a specific angle—60°, 90°, or 120°. I used these stencils to make drawings of possible arrangements. Initially I intended to make purely geometric compositions: equilateral triangle, square, circle, and hexagon. But as the series developed, I experimented with free-form arrangements that call to mind 1970s multi-line rainbow fonts. In the end, I chose to feature the hidden geometry that a random arrangement provides. The viewer does not read the work as a sequence of specific angles and arcs. Instead, the work looks organic and spontaneous, while adhering to a proscribed set of constraints.

The individual parts were built from laser-cut Plexiglas shapes, blue foam insulation, and clay or plasticene. From these models (both half- and full-scale versions), I cast multi-piece plaster molds for slip casting. After choosing an arrangement, I used Duralar templates to draw a steel mounting frame, then water-jet cut the shape out of steel. Each ceramic element has two neodymium magnets embedded into the back that are secured using PC-7. The magnets make installation easy as they’re strong enough to hold the ceramic pieces to the steel wall plate while allowing the work to look as though it hangs directly on the wall.

1 Paper stencils/templates, drawings, laser-cut Plexiglas, blue insulation foam, finished ceramic form showing embedded magnets for mounting; 2015–16.

2 Bent Line 1, 18 in. (46 cm) in length, slip-cast porcelain, magnetic hanging system with steel and neodymium magnets, 2016.

3 Bent Line 2, 24 in. (61 cm) in length, slip-cast porcelain with magnetic hanging system (steel and neodymium magnets), 2016.


Robin Roi, New York, New York

Living in New York City, I look at a lot of art. Attending galleries, museums, fairs, and pop-up venues throughout New York’s five boroughs is an important part of my practice, providing me with a flow of inspiration that feeds directly into my work.

Recently, I saw the Alberto Burri show at the Guggenheim. It was a gorgeous show. The colors and textures knocked me out—black, white, bright red, and a burlap texture/color.

For my sushi plates, I envisioned a set of irregularly shaped slab plates as my canvas. Using Burri’s palette and simplicity of forms I began sketching out designs. I slumped clay slabs over a wok for a slight curve and attached feet.

As each area of glaze was applied to the design, it was protected with latex resist. The abstract design of black and white shapes with a defined border has a background of burlap color and texture and an uncontrolled spatter of bright red.

The glazes were an incredible match to the colors that had inspired me and the design, based on my sketches, had that balance of control and abandon I sensed in Burri’s work and that I strive for in my own work.

1 Notebook sketch for sushi plates, including Alberto Burri postcards from the 2015 “The Trauma of Painting” exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum used as references for the surfaces. Postcard reproductions of the following paintings: Left side: Lo strappo 1952. Top right: Sacco e rosso ca. 1959. Bottom right: Legno e bianco 1, 1956. Collection of Beatrice Monti della Corte © Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Citta di Castello/2015 Artists Rights Society, New York/SIAE, Rome. Photo: © Christie’s Images Ltd.C 2015 Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York.

2 Set of six sushi plates, to 13 in. (33 cm) in length, slab-built and slump-molded stoneware, red underglaze, Pratt White glaze, Gun Metal Black glaze, Volcanic Ash glaze, black underglaze outlines to define shapes, wax and latext resist, fired to cone 6 in an electric kiln, 2016.

Colleen Williams, Chattanooga, Tennessee

With a formal education in architecture behind me, I approach each piece I make by setting parameters to my chosen criteria and methodically working within those rules to find a solution. Within a month of moving to a new city and studio in Chattanooga WorkSpace, I jumped at the chance to participate in a project to create an original piece that was inspired by a single artwork within the Hunter Museum of American Art collection, culminating in a gallery exhibition at the WorkSpace Gallery. I chose John Himmelfarb’s Xtra Xtra because I was drawn to its graphic narrative of pictograms (which I’d interpreted as telling the news of the day) within irregularly shaped segments in a limited palette. I was reminded of a field of sunflowers in which each flower was singular, depicting its own story of evolution (marred leaves, loss of petals due to insects, birds, environment, etc.), yet remaining an integral part of the whole field. I chose to assign chronological calendar dates corresponding to entries in my journal to each sculptural flower I created. Each form graphically represented a day in my life while creating the piece, on both the front and back sides. Larger forms depict a more significant day and smaller forms signify a memory with less impact but a part of my life, nonetheless.

1 Inspired by: John Himmelfarb (b.1946), Xtra Xtra, 2004, intaglio and woodblock, 22/25, Courtesy of Phil Malinosky, ACC #2013.4, Hunter Museum of American Art. Initial sketch with notes regarding journal entries assigned to each flower. Designed flower sketch with graphic notation. Paper templates for composition and positioning.

2 Are you reading me? (front view), 20 in. (50 cm) in length, slab-built stoneware, colored porcelain slips, underglaze, fired to 2307°F (1264°C) in an electric kiln, 2016.


Subscriber Extra Video

Masterclass with Susan Nemeth from Ceramic Review on Vimeo.

Video courtesy of Ceramic Review magazine.

Subscriber Extra Images

Alison Reintjes bent line.

Andrew McIntyre’s engagement ring and box.

Andrew McIntyre’s engagement photo.

Antonio Martinez’ teapot.

Kira Kalondy’s finished tulip.

Robin Roi’s platter.

Susan Nemeth’s still life coiled porcelain.

Yves Perrella’s finished forms.


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