• Stephen Kostystyn ceramic basket vessels It’s a Wrap! First Friday Art Hop Fun with Stephen Kostyshyn, ceramic-basket vessel maker. Plus Stephen answers our “Ten Questions to the Artist”

    Ceramic artist Stephen Kostyshyn holding a ceramic basket bottle

    Stephen drove down from the Grand Traverse area of Michigan to spend the evening with us in the gallery. He shared how he creates these vessels. Personally, I think he is a closet engineer.
    First Friday Art Hop July 2018
    Did you know clay shrinks two times during the making process? During the drying stages and the first kiln firing (bisque) and then again during the glaze kiln firing. Steve needs to drill precise holes in the top and bottom clay sections. He keeps his fingers crossed that the holes do not become distorted during firings. If all goes well, then, he is able to select his reeds for creating his gorgeous baskets. I had wondered where he got his idea for making these types of vessels. Several years ago, A maker told him that there were baskets being made on the East Coast that start with a piece of wood for the base. It dawned on Stephen that he could create a base by throwing it on the potter’s wheel. He started trying different methods and slowly figured out how to create his own unique artwork.
    Stephen Kostyshyn holding his ceramic basket vase with SUSAN picking, singer songwriter

    One thing that I enjoy doing, is asking the same ten questions of our artists.  We learn just a little bit more about him or her as a person.

    Ten Questions to the Artist

    Stephen Kostyshyn making a ceramic basketWhat turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?

    Music. But, I have always has been excited by vessels, love ceramics.

    Do you have an influence or theme that guides your work?

    No. I let the materials guide me.

    What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?


    What profession would you not like to do?

    Be a doctor, Really, no blood.

    Who are your favorite artists?

    Monet, all impressionists.

    What is your favorite tool used to create your work?

    Scribe tool from Home Depot. It has a little hook that I use to complete a basket.

    What is your favorite word?


    What is your least favorite word?

    Awesome because what will you say when you look at the Grand Canyon what word would you use.

    Who is your favorite musician?

    Colin Hay (men at work), Drew Nelson.

    How much formal education have you received? Related to your craft.

    BFA  in ceramics, plus a minor in painting.

    Thank you, Stephen, for taking the time to answer our questions.  We appreciate it.

    Stephen Kostyshyn's ceramic baskets
    Kostyshyn’s forms are one of a kind. I have not seen anything like his artwork. Stop into the gallery or get ahold of us to send you pictures of our current inventory. We can ship one to you.
  • Finding Meaning in the Every Day

    With all of the talking heads out there telling us what we should think, what do you really think? Are you watching the news? How does this relate to your every day life and handmade?

    Cyndi at a C2C Gallery event for designers

    I don’t know about you but I am struggling. Struggling with the world around me. I am fortunate and I am very grateful for it. Life in Grand Haven, Michigan is relatively safe; filled with friendly people; just trying to raise their families; and live their lives to the best of their abilities.

    Sunset at Grand Haven State Park

    When you purchase a piece of art – handmade bowls, pitchers, vases, paintings, jewelry and more, you are helping an artist and his/her family live in a manner that is important to them. They have spent countless hours and years working to learn their craft to the best of their ability. Most of our artists live quiet lives, usually working 50 plus hours a week in their private studios, making functional and non-functional artwork.

    Raku wall hanging by Tonya Rund. Ceramic and Basket vessel by Stephen Kostyshyn

    You get to see the finished piece. It may have been re-made several times before arriving at C2C Gallery. So, how do you find meaning in the every day? I think by connecting with people. Looking them in the eyes. Smiling genuinely at them. I also believe sharing handmade, unique, items with those special people in your life says to them “You matter to me.”

  • A Fun Project – New Art for the GH Community Foundation

    About three weeks ago, Holly Johnson, executive director of the Grand Haven Community Foundation called the gallery. She asked if I would visit their newly renovated office suite and make recommendations for original artwork.

    I love these types of projects for offices and homes. I get to visit the location and see what type of furniture has been selected, the colors chosen, and style that the customer feels most comfortable inhabiting.

    The Community Foundation offices are a mix of traditional furniture in the reception and conference room area; moving into a very contemporary mix of work stations and seating areas for the staff to work. I selected a more traditional hand-pulled print by Lee Ann Frame for the reception area. It has a nice feel to it making everyone who enters welcome. The intaglio and wood blocked print features the Eastmanville farmland.

    Moving into the staff work space is contemporary Izzie Design furniture in oranges, grays, blues, and chrome. I selected abstract paintings by Deborah Bowen and Christi Dreese.

    To complete the project, we asked former West Michigan artist and retired Kendall professor, Abbey Fitzpatrick to create two complementary paintings to the three that the Foundation already owns.

    One of the things that I try to impress upon clients is that even though C2C Gallery is small. I have access to many artists in a variety of mediums and styles. I can help them complete almost any type of project that has to do with interior design and original art. We have artists who work in glass, abstract and landscape paintings, prints, photography, sculpture, ceramics, tile, encaustic, and more.

    I love helping customers create their own unique space almost as much as I love working in porcelain clay. Talk with me. Let’s work together.

  • Is your newly purchased pottery food safe?

    A friend sent me a note this morning with regard to a piece of pottery that she had received as a gift. She didn’t think that it had glaze on the inside of it and wondered about using it. So, I thought I would put some information out there with regard to using pottery in your “every day life”. ( You know that is what C2C is all about.)

    If you are like me, when I travel, I consider what I would like to bring home as a reminder of the holiday. Sometimes, I purchase gifts for friends and family. When, considering pottery, these are the considerations:
    Will your gift be just a decorative piece, to be enjoyed over time? Reminding you of a lovely day?
    Do you want to use the mug, bowl, tile, plate in your daily life? If yes. Here is a simple test. You can set the ceramics on a counter, cut a wedge of lemon, placing it on or in the piece of pottery. Let it sit over night. The next day, look closely at the location of where the lemon sat for several hours (12 or so). Is there any discoloration? Changes in the piece? If yes, then, your piece is probably not food safe. The glaze is not a good fit with the clay body or it is low fired (think raku).

    Raku fired pots are a type of firing that creates metallic shine, crackles, and many times areas of raw clay that will provide a black decorative element. Raku is not water tight which means that fresh cut flowers will probably not work for vases fired in this manner.
    If you purchase ceramics in the USA, most potters know if their artwork is truly functional and food safe. When, traveling internationally, I always talk with the artisan, asking about how they create their work. If you ask enough questions, you will learn enough about their making, so that when you return, you can stop into the gallery and we can help you decide whether it is food safe.

    I ask questions like this:
    Where do you get your clay?
    How did you make this piece?
    If in their studio, I ask to see their kiln (mostly because potters love to see other potter’s tools and equipment. And, I am a potter.). You will get to see if they have taken care of their equipment and see if it is an electric, gas, wood, or other type of firing. All good information.
    If in a foreign country, asking how long it takes to fire their work and where they fire can uncover information.
    At the end of the day, do you love the piece? That is what is important.

    Buy it (support artists). (The image above is what I purchased while in Italy this spring. I immediately loved it – think water.)
    Incorporate it into your every day life.
    Enjoy it for many years and try to do something creative today. It is good for your soul. C2.
  • Did you receive flowers for Mother’s Day?

    Did you receive cut flowers for Mother’s Day? I found an interesting article in The NY Times where someone did an experiment with regard on how to make them last a long time. You can learn how here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/science/how-to-keep-flowers-alive.html

    These flowers were arranged by Grand Haven Garden House. We are partnering with Kathy Kwekel and her professional florists. You can select a vase in the gallery. We will deliver it to GHGH and they will create a lovely flower arrangement to be delivered to a special person in your life. It’s a Win-Win Situation for everyone.

    Lovely Handmade Vase – Gorgeous Flower Arrangement – A Unique One of a Kind Gift

    Ceramic Pitcher by Richard Aerni
    Ceramic Vase by Julie Devers
  • “Try It and See”

    Today is my mentor’s birthday. He left this world just more than a year ago. I am still on my Italian holiday. I know that he is smiling that I did “try it and see” in my class at La Meridiana. Daily, I am thinking about the nuggets of take-always from the class. Considering how to incorporate this knowledge into my clay work at home. Robin coached me that I needed to really “see” more of the world and that I should travel as often as I could afford. This trip is honoring his counsel.
    (A picture of Robin Hopper three years ago, he was always making music with any object available. This time a teapot. How appropriate!)
    Bev and I had a wonderful day wandering down the mountain from Montepescali heading towards Tyrrhenian Sea to a town called Castiglione Della Pescaia. It was lovely. Lots of families walking, sunning, and playing at the beach. We hiked up to the fortress finding lovely views across the water. But, I digress.
    Leaving Montepescali was a challenge. One that had both of us laughing. We are staying in an apartment with tiny, very tiny windy roads. The Italians drive effortlessly through these alleys. We had parked our Fiat close to our apartment. Now, I had to get it out of there and down the mountain. As I inch my way down the steep grade, we come to a tight right hand turn with stone walls on every side. Three cars arrive wanting to make the turn also. Finally, I wiggled my way out of the intersection and let them all go through. Then, the church ladies in their 4 inch high heels pass. They wobble down the cobblestone alleys. I don’t know which was more precarious me in my little manual car or their walk home. We made it out of the tight maze and onto the open road headed toward the beach. Whew!
    Being by the ocean, watching people, smelling the salt water, watching children enjoying their time had me smiling in a big way. Our Lake Michigan beach days will be arriving soon and I love them.
    Have I mentioned that I love trees and their bark? Cypress trees are in abundance here. Check out the arrangement of canopy (I call them umbrella trees) and cypress.
    In Robin’s honor, I will look up the name of these umbrella trees. Their scientific name is Pinus Pinea or Umbrella Pines. These pine trees grow naturally around Tuscany. This is the tree where our beloved pine nuts grow. I think a pesto recipe is in order soon. Quite often, you will find cypress trees planted near a burial. It is believed that they assist the souls of our loved ones to heaven.
    We made it back to the apartment without a scratch on the car. Walked around our town in the dusk.
    Our world is an amazing place; filled with people trying to make the best with what they have; just like us; working; raising children; spending time with friends; and trying to find fun when they can. It was a fun day. Happy Birthday, Robin.
  • 14 Different Interpretations in the same Classroom – Porcelain with Antionette Badenhorst


    Yesterday, was glaze day in the classroom here at LaMeridiana. For me, it was all a bit overwhelming. Not because, I feel incapable of glazing my ceramics work. I felt overwhelmed by 14 people doing it at the same time. Everyone was polite, doing a dance in and out from the glazing area and the spray booth.

    Antionette was involved every step of the way; helping students, letting people spray glaze on to their delicate work of very thin porcelain, and providing support. The spray gun’s pressure was enough that it could send the piece flying across the booth. Franco, the studio technician, was very patient throughout the long day. Cleaning plugged spray guns, answering questions, and mixing up glazes.

    As a potter, I know that glazing my work, takes just as much time as forming it from that lump of clay. At the end of the day, I can walk away feeling pretty good about my long hours or just “eh, we will see”. I have taken enough courses to know that outcomes in a classroom will vary. It’s not my studio. Not my wheel or tools. Not my preferred clay. Not my studio in which I can be free to think, process, and make. BUT, the classroom does open my eyes and send me down a new path, maybe just a tiny jog. This small “ah-ha” is enough to give me the push into new artwork that has me walking into my studio with sketches, questions of “what if?”, and the necessary desire to try again.

    Thank you to these friendly dogs, Antoinette, Teya, Claudia, Lucia, Franco, Alessia, Pietro (and everyone else on the La Meridiana’s staff) who welcome us; assist us; help make us comfortable; and feed us. You have made my visit and learning to LaMeridiana special. Tomorrow, we open the glaze kiln. Unload and see our results.
  • Glazing Day in the Studio, but yesterday at the Florence Ufizzi Gallery….

    We are on the final round of working in the classroom. Yesterday, was a bisque firing day. Many in our class hopped on the train into Florence. La Meridiana arranged a guide for us meeting us at the Train Station, walking us through parts of the city and into the Ufizzi Gallery. This is the way to learn more about Florence. Our guide was knowledgeable and friendly. She pointed the high points and elegantly bypassed the not as important buildings and artwork.

    Whenever, I visit art museums, I stay away from the rooms filled with Renaissance paintings. I have always found them dark and forbidding.

    Our guide showed me that there is so much more to know and understand about this era. One thing of interest is that many paintings inside of the Ufizzi Gallery “glow” and not just from the lighting. The paint is so vibrant. She informed us of the various periods and how the painting styles evolved over the decades and centuries.

    We also had wonderful views of the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio.

    I slept on the train home. My classmates are learning that I can sleep on any moving vehicle. Take good care and do something creative today. C2

  • Day 8 (or 7, since we took Sunday off) at LaMeridiana, Certaldo, Italy

    Yesterday, three of us took off by train to visit Faenze. It is about 3 hours north by train. We had all variations of trains, local, fast, and then regional.

    Bologna Train Station was a bit confusing – three levels of tracks. Thank goodness, a number is a number, so that you can find your train and the track that it is located on.

    Faenza seems to be a very nice town. It had a nice boulevard leading from the train station. We found lunch at a restaurant that meant “Gypsy” in Italian. Their placemats said “Not all who wander are lost.” We had a nice day of wandering in the Museum of International Ceramics. Lovely older building with a contemporary annex.
    Here are a few of my favorite pieces that I was able to spend time with yesterday. We are back to making and finishing work. Gorgeous day of sunshine (sorry, my Midwest USA friends.)
    Take good care and do something creative today. C2
  • Out of the Classroom

    Yup, lots of pots being made. Very thin porcelain bowls and more. We are turning hand-built and wheel thrown bowls into sculpture. Very small sculptural artwork.

    None of our pieces will be as fine as Antoinette’s but we are making progress. Last night we took a ride to the small hilltop town of Barbarino. An organic grower of grapes and olives, La Spinosa, hosted us for wonderful food paired with several of their wines and olive oils. Claudia, director of La Meridiana, used to be a partner with this group. She was our tour guide being very informative and fun throughout the evening.

    La Spinosa means the porcupine in Italian. They had large porcupine needs in cups around their store. I wonder if that means I might come across one on my walks to school?
    It’s Friday, our fifth day at LaMeridiana. We will put in our last long day. The goal today is to not crack or drop anything accidentally. 🙂

    Take good care and do something creative today. C2