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  • 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?

    Archeology

    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?

    Cool

    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.”

  • graham Hay next to a sculpture Is it a Bird? A Plane? No, it’s a sculpture!

    Sculpture by Graham Hay

    So excited to be hosting a 3 day workshop in October!   I have read a lot about  Australian Graham Hay’s artwork.  Always wanting to take one of his workshops and it just hasn’t worked out.  Graham is a sculptor who works primarily in paper and clay.  Last year, he reached out to me asking if I would be interested in organizing a course. The planning has come together.   Lee Ann Frame has agreed to let us use her studio space at Muskegon Community College which will be perfect for both demos and making.  Mike Taylor of West Michigan Clay is donating the paper clay for Graham’s use and the participants.  I very much appreciate both Mike and Lee Ann’s assistance.
    graham Hay next to a sculpture

    Graham Hay

    Graham is a clay-aholic.  Graham says “My ceramic paper-clay work is an attempt to illustrate this on-going interest in the organization of the arts and crafts, and society. I am inspired by architecture and local plants, while trying to suggest the cycles, rigidities and dynamic nature of our society, and myself. My compressed paper sculptures are a by-product of office work, research, everyday correspondence and junk mail. Since 1994, it has been a way to create silence in a world of information overload. Despite the promise of the “paperless office” we still keep paper to hand and it can become a symbol of emotional attachment and a link with loved ones.”
    Hay is known to lead fun, informative workshops. Participants will watch him demonstrate using this interesting medium – paper-clay, plus create their own pieces with his guidance.  We will have three days of  learning, making, and talking all things art. 

    Click here for more information.

  • bowls and casseroles So, what makes a great pot (ceramic, that is)?

    Ceramic artists (potters) are a hard working group of people. They have a commitment to making the best pots possible that reflect their personal story using clay. Pots can be very straightforward like a human body: functional, beautiful and strong. Ceramic work can also be complicated, abstract, and sculptural. One of the things that I love about clay is that it connects us to others. It is a basic material that can be used for many things.   As humans, we have used it for thousands of years to assist us in our daily lives.
    sketch of tony clennell's pitcher

    Tony Clennell

    I believe that we are all creative. You do creative things all day long:  what you are wearing; how you cook your food; how you mow your yard; and more.  Being creative can heal and connect us to something deeper than ourselves. It makes our lives richer. Using handmade pottery does enrich your life connecting you to a larger world; reminding us to take just a few minutes to consider the story of this pot; and to breathe.

     

    So what makes a good pot?

     

    “The best of pots through the ages have a quality of timelessness about them that transcends chronological and cultural boundaries. The essence of form, the movement of a brush, the quality of surface. Pottery is neither painting nor sculpture, although it has elements of both.” (excerpt from Robin’s Hopper preface in his book, Functional Pottery)

    Ceramic Jar by Robin Hopper

    Robin Hopper

    There are several things to consider, when looking at a piece of functional pottery:
    • Proper use of the selected clay body and glazes.
    • Does the pot function well for the use intended?
    • The overall design of the pot.
    Which clay body and glaze is best?
    Any clay body – earthenware, stoneware, porcelain – can be used to make Fantastic Interesting Pottery Forms. IF the maker applies correctly formulated glazes and then fires the work correctly. What I mean by this is:
    Earthenware is typically what we call low fired. We have one artist – Michael Kifer who uses this type of clay. It allows him to get unusual colors and textures. Think Bright Reds, Blues, Greens, Yellows. Michael’s pottery can go in the dishwasher. I wouldn’t put it in the microwave for more than 40 seconds.

    Michael Kifer pottery

    Raku – is not earthenware. It is a type of firing. Typically these clay artists use groggy clay to handle the contraction and expansion of clay that occurs during a raku kiln firing. Four artists at C2C creating raku work: Tonya Rund, Scott Berman, Mike Bryant, and Diane Niehof.
    raku wall hangings and moreStoneware – is a mix of different chemicals that help the clay be very forgiving when working with it. It is great for planters, dishes, serving pieces, vases, etc. We have several potters who work in it either throwing on the potter’s wheel or hand building to make their work. Artists at C2C who work in stoneware are: Mike Taylor, Julie Devers, Polly Wellford, Richard Aerni, Jerri Puerner, Jacob Koster, Cory McCrory, and Mary Kuilema.

    2017-stoneware

    In the 1700’s, porcelain was considered “white gold” and history told us that in those days it caused greed and theft. Bernard Leach, a British potter, was one of the first artists to create a fairly reliable porcelain clay for ceramic artists. At C2C, Marion Angelica, Brooks Bouwkamp, Jerri Puerner, and myself use porcelain.

    porcelain pottery

    Does the pot function well for the intended use?
    When you pick up a mug, do your fingers fit well in the handle? (This is a personal preference.)
    mugs variety ofIf you pick up a bowl, does the bowl feel balanced, not bottom heavy. If you run your fingers up from the inside of the bowl to the rim are the walls of it an even thickness?

    bowls and casseroles

     

    A casserole (lidded and un-lidded) can be very lovely for display and use. You should ask whether it can go in the oven (into a hot or cold one) or be used just for serving food. Does the lid fit comfortably on the base? Is the galley where the lid sits substantial enough to handle use? Or will you need to be careful when replacing the lid?

    correct handle placement

    If you are selecting a teapot; do you collect or will you use it? Many teapots are created just for pleasure; others for use. Does the teapot pour well or dribble? When you are pouring liquid from it, does the pot feel balanced? Remember you will have hot liquid inside of it. You don’t want your hands to be touching the body of the teapot. Can you pour the hot liquid easily?

    functional teapots

    nonfunctional teapots

    What makes a good pot? The overall design.
    “Trust your gut when looking at a painting or a piece of pottery.” Intuitively, we all know whether a piece of art “works”.  When considering pottery, we use terms like: shoulder, belly, lip, neck, and foot. We look at the form’s proportions. How does the piece feel in your hands? Will you be picking it up often? Is the form graceful?  Did the potter pay attention to the small details like the rim and foot of the pot?  Does the surface decoration work with the form?  Are the decorations appropriate, interesting, and well constructed?

    great ceramic forms

     

    A famous Greek philosopher-mathematician named Eudoxus is said to have carried a walking stick with him. He would ask friends to visually divide the stick into two parts at whatever point they sensed it to be most pleasing. Much to his satisfaction, the majority of people chose a point close to the same place on the stick. From this he deduced that most people are spontaneously drawn to the same ratios. The Golden Mean or Rule is also fascinating in that the living world follows this natural law creating pleasing forms and relationships. (excerpt from Functional Pottery by Robin Hopper).
    This is what I mean when I say to a client “Trust your gut when looking at a painting or a piece of pottery.”

    sculpture

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • who's teapot What’s in a signature or chop?

    Does anyone recognize the maker?

    It’s almost the last day of the year.  I am working on a newsletter focused on “what makes a good pot?”.  Taking pictures of pots from my collection.  I can’t remember who made this teapot.    Help me out.

    2017-who'steapot

  • Ken Matsuzaki oribe vase Ceramics I Love – A video on Japanese Wood Fired Pots.

    Ceramics I Love – Wood Fired Pots

    Ken Matsuzaki oribe vase

     

    Ken Matsuzaki is a Japanese potter who was artwork was featured by the Goldmark Gallery in 2007.  This film shows you process: creation of a pot,  fire a wood kiln, and get pieces ready for exhibition.  We have two potters in the gallery who fire their ceramic work in wood kilns:  Julie Devers and Mike Taylor.

    Ken Matsuzaki teacups oribe

  • Remembering Robin Hopper – potter, teacher, gardner, author, mentor, & friend

    Robin Hopper playing his horn mouthpiece

    Robin Hopper tooting his horn
    I have been thinking about writing this blog for awhile.  Reading other friends posts about Robin made me reluctant to do it.  What else could I say about this man?  He was known by many for his workshops and books/videos.  He was a national treasure of Canada for his artwork, research, and many years of teaching.  April of 2015, we brought a birthday lunch to his home.  It was a special day filled with horn blowing, laughter, and of course sharing of knowledge.
    Robin Hopper and Judi Dyelle
    You can find lots of information about Robin on the internet.  Tony Clennell was special friend to both Robin and Judi (Robin’s wife).  I believe that he will be speaking at the next (NCECA) International Ceramics Conference on Robin’s behalf.  I am sure there won’t be a dry eye in the room and mostly because the goal will be to make the crowd laugh so hard that they cry.  Click on Tony’s picture below to read his farewell to Robin (You will love his wit.)
    Robin Hopper, Cathi Jefferson, Judi Dyelle
    The Last Supper – Tony Clennell
    One of Robin’s last projects was to produce a DVD title, Swan-song.  It shares this artist’s 70 plus years in the arts, his wit, and love for teaching.  ALL of the proceeds goes to two things he loves:  arts education and pediatric cancer research.  When watching Swan-song, I laughed, cried a bit, and learned a few things.  You won’t regret purchasing a copy.  Steve Branfman at the New Hampshire Potter’s Shop was a good friend, helping him with this last project.  You can purchase from his site.  
    Robin Hopper's SwanSong DVDSwan-Song DVD
    I want to share Steven’s post because I think he says it so well:  “
    Swansong is Robin’s final contribution to the world. It is a labor of love that speaks to his love of art, history, culture and philanthropy. In the introduction to his last book Robin Hopper Ceramics, Robin’s words describing the book summarize his life; 
    It is also a love story–a somewhat unusual love story. It is about passion, intrigue, and obsession. It is a story about a lust for life, a thirst for knowledge, a passion for pots, a mania for mud and minerals and a commitment to furthering the development of ceramic communication and education. “
    I am grateful for my time with Robin and all that I learned from him.  I tried very hard to never say anything foolish or ask a question where the answer could be found in one of his books.  He left the world a better place.  I believe that he hopes many of us will take up his torch to better our personal worlds.  One of the last things he said to me was to remember to be kind, look for the good or bright side of things, and just keep “making”.

    “Try It and See”

    Some images of Chosin Pottery Gardens and several pieces from my collection:

    gardens at Chosin pottery

    gardens at Chosin Pottery

    Click to see more garden images

    2015-RH-outsidegarden

    Robin Hopper in his gallery

    Robin Hopper ceramic substrate painting

    Robin Hopper clematis series

    Robin Hopper jar

    B'ORIBE PLATE - 2004 - PORCELAIN WITH MULTIPLE GLAZES

    Robin Hopper Beverly Norton Walker Cyndi Casemier

    Robin’s obituary:  Times Colonist

    An article about Robin:  December 2015

    One of our conversations recorded

    One of his last public performances at NCECA:

     

     

  • Fong Choo tiny teapot Ceramics I Love – Fong Choo and his miniature teapots

    Fong Choo

    Fong Choo
    I attended one of Fong Choo’s workshops 12 years ago. He is known for his miniature ceramic teapots.   Fong is a clay artist living in Louisville, Kentucky.  After watching him work, I knew that I needed one of his pots for my collection.  This ceramic artist creates them on the potter’s wheel, making all of the parts, and then putting the tiny components together.  They actually pour but you would never use one.  Fong continues to teach and participate in exhibits across the country.

  • Soda Fired Jar by Aaron Moseley Ceramics that I Love – Covered Jar by Aaron Moseley

    Soda Fired Jar by Aaron Moseley

    Aaron Moseley
    Aaron is a ceramic artist at The Ceramics Center located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  He is someone to follow!  He fires many of his pots using a soda kiln or a wood kiln.  He creates interesting pots that have movement and great lines.  I am going to have to keep an eye on his artwork with the thoughts of purchasing for my collection.  
  • Ceramics that I Love – Teapots that Dance – Carol Wedemeyer

    Charcoal Teapot by Carol Wedemeyer

    Carol Wedemeyer
    Carol Wedemeyer is formerly from Ann Arbor, Michigan.  She is a footbag freestyle competitor, dancer, and sculptor, along with a love a travel.  Carol’s statement talking about herself:  “As I aim to hold happiness in life and in making art, I look to find balance between intention and circumstance; fantasy and reality; the man made and that which comes from Nature.”  I wondered what footbag was and found a video of Carol competing.  Pretty amazing foot work and ceramics.