Bekah Bliss, Independence, Missouri

Ceramics Monthly: What techniques do you use to make your work and why?

Bekah Bliss: My initial interest in clay was focused on wheel throwing precise, smooth forms and adding contrasting carved shapes. About four years ago, I made the shift to handbuilding out of a desire to play with other textures and explore asymmetrical forms. I reference dry, cracked earth on the bottoms of my pieces and use collected rocks to create stamps that I press into the interior surfaces. My interest in architecture and mid-century design influences the layered motifs I use to divide the surface and provide contrast to the form. Leaving evidence of the pinched construction creates a weathered-looking surface, which is then emphasized with terra sigillata and a patina wash. I hope the work evokes a conscious interaction from the user to discover textures captured on the surface, while also being warm and inviting to use.

1 Flower brick, 7¼ in. (18 cm) in height, handbuilt stoneware, terra sigillata, liner glaze, fired to cone 4 in oxidation, 2021.

CM: What roles do you think makers play within our current culture? How do you think you contribute to it?

BB: Makers can be both influenced and influential within culture and our roles can vary broadly. 

There is a vulnerability to being a maker and sharing our creative endeavors. Aside from just trying to communicate ideas that are personal, we have to decide how to make a living doing it. It is a complex journey that usually includes side jobs, learning how to operate the business side of things, and lots of failure. I see makers using social media to connect more directly with their audience. Many utilize the opportunity to share the behind-the-scenes process, which helps people feel more connected to the work. I think this openness has created a buzz around pottery, and I’ve seen increased enrollment in classes. I see myself contributing to the culture as a maker, teacher, and studio manager. I share my knowledge and processes to bring more people into the conversation surrounding functional art. I hope people see the thoughtful creation of my work and understand the value of adding handmade objects to their daily life. 

2 Sangria set (64-ounce pitcher and 8-ounce cups), handbuilt stoneware, terra sigillata, liner glaze, fired to cone 4 in oxidation, 2022.

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