Just the Facts
a custom mid-range casting porcelain, our own recipe
Primary forming method
wheel throwing and slip casting
Primary firing temperature
cone 6, electric
Favorite surface treatment
layering glaze and custom decals
an X-Acto knife and a pencil
David: Many podcasts (Radiolab, 99% Invisible, Love + Radio, Criminal, The Memory Palace, Make/Time, S-Town, Serial, Undisclosed, Lore, Tanis, and The Black Tapes, just to name a few), audiobook fiction of all kinds
Elisa: NPR (1A, Fresh Air, and The Moth are favorites); Lots of music: The Smiths, Bob Dylan, Bon Iver, Sigur Ros, and MIA (often playing)
a hydraulic press, a big front-loading kiln, and hot water
TWO|ONE Ceramics is the collaborative functional work we make in our studio, which is a converted two-car garage on our property near the one-stoplight town of Floyd, Virginia. The space has many uses: our individual gallery work is made there, we host bi-annual studio tours, and it serves as the production studio for our collaborative line. In about 600 square feet, we have three electric kilns, two large ware carts, a wood stove (the only source of heat), three large work tables, a homemade slip mixer and casting table, a large air compressor, and shelving for glazes and molds. Bulk dry materials are kept in an attached shed. This summer, we moved our kilns to an adjoining, yet-unfinished space for better ventilation and to free up more work space.
Part of the studio is designated for slipcasting and using porcelain. Another section is where David primarily handbuilds, sometimes with red clay, and more often with porcelain paper clay. He is always fine-tuning the layout of the studio, to use the space best. We typically work in cycles, so the studio shifts from making, to waxing and glazing, to post-firing work and packing, then back again.
Because the studio building is partially underground and has a concrete floor, it stays cool in the summer, and the garage door can stay open all day. In the winter, we have to keep a fire going to keep it warm. While more windows might be nice, the studio was rewired to our specifications (while installing kilns) to allow for over 1500 watts of lighting. There can never be too much light.
Sometimes the studio has only porcelain in it, sometimes there may be earthenware, stoneware, paper clay, porcelain, and plaster in use at the same time. Working areas are arranged to be versatile but not overlapping, with space in between to keep things separate. Workflow shifts from one professional commitment to the next, and this dictates the current focus. The limited studio space requires that it be keep open and clean, which keeps our heads free of clutter, too. The space an artist works in is a reflection of what’s going on in their heads. Organizing our physical space can help clear up our thoughts.
There is no running water in the studio, but we don’t seem to miss it. The simplicity of rinsing hands in buckets is appealing, but we think that maybe we’ll change our tune when we install a faucet.
In a perfect studio, we would have high ceilings, triple the space, and abundant natural light. Spending years making the best use of whatever space available has helped us understand what features we want in the future studio we hope to build one day.
Paying Dues (and Bills)
TWO|ONE Ceramics started when we saw the potential of working together and combining our strengths while raising young children at home. While we both do some of everything, including prototyping, typically David makes molds and handles technical issues, while I do most of the slip casting and glazing. David illustrates decal images, and I apply them. Sharing the work allows us to critique honestly, and we are tasked with verbalizing to each other the goals and aims of the aesthetic decisions we make. It is a practice that includes a healthy mixture of personal investment and objectivity.
We met while in graduate school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and we both have similar work ethics. We trade time in the studio; David works for marathon sessions but takes time to build momentum, and I can work in short or long durations and be equally productive in both scenarios. Around raising our children, we squeeze in extra studio time in the evenings, and split weekends.
David is an assistant professor of art at nearby Ferrum College, and works full time all week. I run the studio during the day, and David usually works at night.
As for creative inspiration, we appreciate painting, and are drawn to Modernist and Cubist artists, as well as early Renaissance frescoes. We have both taught versions of art history, and our academic experiences generate directions of interest for us. An appreciation for Bauhaus design leads us to books on the subject, and David recently taught a class that had him reading and falling in love with Modernism (particularly Manet). A trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art can keep us talking for months, and we make regular trips to New York (I grew up nearby).
On a day off with good weather, we spend time with our daughters hiking, riding bikes, or working in the yard. Every summer we take time to travel and visit new places, teach workshops, and see friends. Reading with our children and taking time to do projects with them also fuels our ideas about making. Cooking is a time to think about pottery and how things fit in the kitchen, and into a lifestyle. Nearly every meal is made at home (rural living), and making just about everything from scratch makes food more meaningful for the children.
In the studio, we try to avoid creative roadblocks by asking questions, looking at our work from different perspectives, and slowing down when we need to. Honestly, we often feel we don’t have enough time to make all the ideas we already have, which feels like a good thing. And, taking on a new project is also a good way to invigorate our studio practice.
Versatility is the key part of our life and TWO|ONE Ceramics’ studio practice. David and I have short- and long-term projects, and we make one-of-a-kind pieces alongside wholesale lines. Some things we make are already purchased before production; some things, we don’t care if they ever sell. Our ideas about being studio artists are defined by versatility.
David sells one-off sculptural pieces in galleries, often being the focus artist of a space. Consignment of TWO|ONE pieces happens with only a few select galleries. Mainly, we go to wholesale shows, like NY NOW, once or twice a year, and through those outlets we get our work into shops, online stores, and galleries.
TWO|ONE Ceramics keeps a growing email list of businesses we’ve worked with, product and interior designers, and makers in other media. We also send a newsletter out a few times a year. One important thing is that we are open to new projects. We are currently working with the Brooklyn Slate Company to develop a custom line of ceramics, using their materials as part of the pieces. Working with artists and makers unfamiliar with, but interested in ceramics, is exciting for us and broadens our experience with the material.
Most of the TWO|ONE Ceramics social media focus is on Instagram (@twooneceramics), with images that show pots in use, process shots, and finished work. In the end, we believe that the best interactions people have with the work happen when they can handle pieces in person. The Internet is a great tool, and it’s also a way for us to share how handmade pots can fit into our everyday lives.