Studio Visit: Stephanie Lanter, Topeka, Kansas

Just the Facts

Red and white earthenware

Primary forming method
Handbuilt-a combination of modeling, carving, filing,
coiling, and some press molding. To form adjunct elements, I usually crochet,
knit or sew various fibers.

Favorite surface treatment
I am addicted to burnishing leather-hard forms, the wackiness of commercial
glazes, and crocheting fibrous elements onto pieces post-firing.

Primary firing method
Cone 06-04 electric

Favorite tool
A sense of humor. Or, in the gift shop of the Dinosaur
Museum in Thermopolis, Wyoming, I found this polished black rock in the shape
of a heart. It is simply perfect for hours and hours of burnishing love. I also
heart the jeweler’s files and altered butter knife given to me by friends.

Most-used piece of equipment
My sound system

stephanie lanter fiber studio

stephanie lanter crocheting

Ceramics Monthly



the studio

I work at home, and I was extraordinarily fortunate to find
a beautiful little airplane bungalow to rent with the space for the TWO studios
I really need. The “dirty” studio, where I work in wet clay and glaze, is my
13×11-foot spare bedroom on the first floor, and the “clean” studio, where I
draw, keep yarn, crochet, knit, and sew, is the upstairs 12×7-foot loft area.
Nearly as important are the “portable studios” of my sketchbook, digital
camera, and laptop. I gratefully am able to fire work in the kilns at Washburn
University (less than a mile and a half away), where I teach.

My favorite aspect of my studios is utter privacy, and the
way the morning sun streams in upstairs. (Windows compose three of the four
walls, and the largest wall faces east.)

My least favorite aspect is also utter privacy, as well as
lack of a kiln, and dealing with clay dust 15 yards from my bed.

paying dues (and bills)

Day job: Full time teaching as Catron Visiting Professor of
Art at Washburn University. I teach design and special topics, as well as
develop and perform art outreach programming for regional elementary schools
and the Topeka community.

Ceramic training: MFA, Ohio University (Athens); BA, Xavier
University (Cincinnati). Residencies: Red Lodge Clay Center, Archie Bray
Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Mendocino Art


stephanie lanter ceramic sculpture innieIdeally, I run everyday, mop my floor everyday,
always-always-wear my respirator and latex gloves, meditate, do yoga, and get
lots of sleep. Really, I try to walk to work and the store as much as I can,
regularly stretch my kinked up wrists, shoulders, and back, do standing work on
a soft ergonomic surface, take breaks, contain clay shavings in wet buckets,
and get a massage about twice a year. As far as health insurance goes, thank
you, Washburn.


Right now, I’m reading student papers. This summer, I was
absorbed by psychology texts and memoirs of mental illness, but I adore fiction
writers like Margaret Atwood and Virginia Woolf (recently). I also highly
recommend listening to RadioLab, and This American Life on NPR.

Here is how I recharge, creatively:

I retreat through walking, reading, music, sleeping, and
researching; and I connect through collaborating, engaging good artwork,
discussing, and working with children.

This article appeared in the November 2009 issue of Ceramics Monthly.
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Sales are not my strongest point. Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?
I am an amazing trader, and I’m taking applications for managers.

I think the fact that I write about other artists boosts my
name recognition and adds another dimension to my own work. Exploring other
media and alternative projects also broadens my audience base, as well as
continually teaching.

I do try to grow my market or find new ones by exhibiting in
cross-disciplinary shows, collaborating with non-clay artists, and becoming
part of each local community into which I move.

I cherish the creator of my website (Thread Studio Web
Design), but I wish I knew how to keep it updated myself. I also have not had
the hoped-for onslaught of eager art buyers flooding my Inbox. However, the
worst aspect of the Internet is that it lies. I make objects and visceral
experiences after all, and globs of pixels, neat as they are, just don’t cut

It is most rewarding to share the strange mystery of my work
(through both image and text) with my family and friends, who are scattered all
over the country. I have gotten a number of exhibition invitations due to an
online presence, and I know it has supported my applications to teaching jobs.

most valuable lessons  

What I haven’t learned yet is infinitely more interesting.
It is extremely difficult to really know what you want, but
it is even more tricky to figure out why.
There’s a chasm of difference between originality and




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