The audio file for this article was produced by the Ceramic Arts Network staff and not read by the author.
Ceramics Monthly: What is the most challenging aspect of working in clay (either technically or in terms of building a career)?
Margaret Kinkeade: When I began making functional pottery, I found it challenging to retain the balance of refinement and standardization of form while embracing the imperfect line of my hand and the natural variation characteristic of handbuilt pottery. Borrowing drafting techniques from sewing and pattern language from quilting has done for my practice what it has done for countless sewing and fiber artists before me: offered structure to press against while remaining open enough for play, experimentation, and individual expression.
Unfortunately, while the time invested in a piece of clothing or a mug is comparable, the working properties of clay vary greatly from cloth, and a seam ripper won’t save me from a handle that cracks in the bisque firing. As far as building a career, it has been difficult to successfully appease my studio-time appetite in a post-academic life where my waking hours are split between a full-time (non-ceramic) job, family, friends, and my studio, but it has offered opportunities for growth and the distillation of what I need and want from my practice.
CM: Who is your ideal audience?
MK: The community of making has cemented some of the most important friendships of my life—from my knitting group as a soon-to-be mother to my graduate-school studio mates to my pandemic-pod sewing group—the objects made while in fellowship with others become imbued with memories, laughs, frustrations, and marks of growth. My ceramic work is a love letter to the community of women who have come before me and sit alongside me: resourceful, skilled, creative, and imperfect. Hard yet fragile, imprecisely meticulous, exacted lines that waiver with my breath, these dualities are all present in the handbuilt vessels I make. So, when asked who my ideal audience would be, I would say anyone who savors the multisensory magic of their first cup of coffee, who saves a cupcake to split with a friend, or who treasures and measures the passage of time in wrinkles and lines.