Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In the Michigan Studio with Slash of Blue and a Giveaway

Up until about a year ago, I regularly posted interviews and giveaways with Michigan artists. I ended up taking an unplanned hiatus from the interviews, not because I wanted to but because I was too consumed both with the live art shows I participated in and with some personal responsibilities that took an awful lot of time. But now I'm back!  And I hope to keep up with these interviews every month or so.  

Today's interviewee is a ceramic artist whose work is deeply inspired by nature.  You'll see what I mean in a minute.

Let's start with the basic information. 

Your name: I was born Mary Kathryn. I was always called Katy though. Then somewhere along the line it turned into Kate. So I guess its Kate or Katy or Mary (if you’re brave) Kestler. Are all the questions this hard??

Your etsy shops: www.etsy.com/shop/slashofblue (ceramics) and www.etsy.com//shop/unashooshie (macrame)
Your Facebook page: www.facebook.com/blueceramics

FK: Ok, Kate/Katy/Mary, I'll try not to make the rest of the questions too hard! Where in Michigan do you live? And did you grow up there?

I live in Farmington Hills now but I was born and raised in Livonia, Michigan. In 1996 at age 19 I moved to Chicago and lived there for two years. Met some great people, made some hilarious memories, then high-tailed it out of there and back home. As much as I love that city, big city livin’ is not for me. I need trees! 

FK: And Farmington Hills definitely has trees.  

We just moved to Farmington Hills a little over a year ago and to be honest I’m still learning about the area. We chose it based on how diverse the area is and how good the schools are. While looking at homes we stumbled upon Heritage Park, which is a 211-acre park with 4.5 miles of trails for hiking and a beautiful nature center that has all sorts of wonderful programs. 

Right down the street from Heritage is another park, Woodland Hills.  That park is 75 acres and is way more rustic.  After seeing these parks right in the middle of suburbia, I was sold!

FK: Let’s talk about your art. How did you get started?  

My father was a public school art teacher for over thirty years. So I guess you can say I’ve been in art school my entire life. Our basement was filled with supplies for anything and everything, from weaving, metal work, sculpting, drawing, painting, enamels, ceramics to all sorts of crafty supplies like beads, yarn, plaster molds, seriously EVERYTHING!  Then there is my mother, the most supportive person alive. So put those two things together and ya get me! That was my childhood…it was pretty awesome. (And I’m trying my hardest to recreate that for my girls.)

Temporarily not available

In high school I was in an art program called CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts).  I had a few great teachers and learned a lot until they tried to make me take an acting class in my junior year. I’m not so much an extrovert – not even a little - so I dropped out of the program. I then took your typical high school art classes like drawing, painting and photography. 
Yellow Green and Orange Maple Leaf Catch All Dish
After high school I went to Columbia College of Chicago for two years, majoring in Fine Art Photography. During my second year I had an amazing darkroom teacher assign a “special” project just for me. She said “Kate, (in college I was Kate), go find a computer and scan one of you photos. Play with it and turn it in for your final.” I did and I fell in love with Photoshop. That’s when I switched gears, moved home, and got my degree in Graphic Design from Schoolcraft College. I worked as a graphic designer for 10 years. The ironic thing is after all those years of art school and art classes I have never taken a ceramics class. I did make a bowl once on a wheel in eighth grade but other than that everything I learned, I learned from my dad. 

FK: I think it's so interesting that you learned ceramics from your dad and that you are following in his footsteps. Tell me more about that. 

My dad freecycled a kiln for me but I didn’t have a 220 line to plug it into so it sat in my garage for two years. Then we moved and we had a 220 line installed in the garage and I was in business! My dad came over and taught me the basics. We worked on a couple pieces and then he let me have it. That’s always how my parents taught me, gave me the bare minimum of information and let me learn my own way. Like, as a kid, I wasn’t allowed to have coloring books because they guided me too much! Boy, that was the best gift I could get as a kid…my grandma used to sneak them to me. Ok, back to ceramics with my Pops! My dad taught me a lot of his tricks involving washes and under-glazing and all sorts of non-conventional finishes and glazing techniques. 
Large Blue Crackle Ceramic Pressed Flora
Red, Yellow and Orange Pressed Flowers Pen and Pencil Holder

As far as inspiration goes…trees, plants and nature in general are it for me! I have a giant Maple tree in my back yard and an even gianter Sycamore in my front yard.

 I get inspired just by looking at those two trees every day. And I go to Heritage Park often. I take my camera with me everywhere and if I see a plant I like, I take a picture and then try to figure out what the plant is. There is a native plant store in Ortonville called American Roots http://www.americanrootswildflowers.com I get a lot of my plants from there. My back yard is full of native plants.  
I opened my etsy shop, Slashof Blue, in August of 2012 and it's doing well so far. 

FK: Tell me about your creative life. What do you love doing the most? Where do you create – do you have a designated studio space?  

I have to be doing something with my hands all the time. I am not capable of just sitting down and watching a movieIf I do, by the end of the movie I will have a finished project in hand. My husband works nights so I have spent many nights hanging out with my daughters, Mallory and Helaina, just making things. We’ve made clay dragons, paper barns, stuffed mermaids, countless drawings and paintings, we sew, we sing, we dance, we cuddle. They inspire me every minute of every day. As does my husband Dan, who is also an artist. He went to The School of the Institute of Arts of Chicago which is where I met him. His paintings blow my mind and I have to keep up with him, ya know!
Plants and Heart Light Greenish Yellow Botanical Dish

Black and White Queen Anne's Lace Ceramic Wall Hanging Art Tile

 So between the two of us and our two children, our entire house is one big studio. Most of my clay junk is in our front room. His studio is in our basement. I also have an office where I store finished pieces and do the business part of my shop. My kids both have “art spaces” in their bedrooms. In our front room though is where I really do most of my work. As a kid and through my teen years I worked on a big round beat up dark wood table. Its legs had been cut so its close to the ground. You have to either sit on it or on the floor to work at it, really. But, man, everything awesome I ever made I made on that table 

When I bought my first house at 24 the first thing I did was ask my parents for that table. They of course were more than happy to let me take the old beat-up thing. And to this day that is where I do all my work. Unfortunately it is starting to fall apart, table surgery is in its future. Ohhhh something new to try….carpentry! 
FK: What part of being an artist is the most gratifying to you? And what part is hardest for you, or that you dislike the most? 

Gratifying? Well I guess for me it’s not about gratification. I really just HAVE to make things. Even if no one liked my work I would still make it. I think I get that from my mom. She taught me to do what I love and not worry about anyone else. If I think about all the cool things I’ve made and just thrown out or given away because I ran out of storage room … that’s a lot of garbage and gifts! 
Black and White and Aqua Botanical Bud Vase

So I guess maybe just finishing a piece, that’s the most gratifying part although I am rarely 100% satisfied with anything I make. I think the hardest part is how fast my brain goes. I am always three steps behind my thoughts. And I don’t just jump from one type of clay to another or something easy like that. It’s usually something like macramé to stained glass to crocheting to ceramics!
Ceramic Bell with Leaf Design

FK: I can totally relate to that, Katy.  I'm the same way!  What do you enjoy when you’re not being an artist? 

Besides making things, I enjoy hiking and reading.  I really need to be around trees. If I am ever having a bad day a walk through the woods cures it … without fail. Also I love just hanging out with my kids. They are so hilarious and have the most intriguing ideas about everything. Just talking to them…they are amazing.  
FK: Well, Katy, you’ve given us a beautiful picture of yourself as an artist and as a person. Thank you.  Now tell us about your giveaway.
My giveaway is my 200th piece that was finished specifically for Slash of Blue! It is an earth tone botanically themed bud vase. This small ceramic vase has an organic free form shape which was hand formed from earthenware. Then flora from southeast Michigan (aka my backyard) were impressed into the clay. It is underglazed with a mottle of warm blacks and browns and has a beautiful high gloss finish. The inside is glazed with a high gloss white. It stands approximately 4 inches tall.

 FK: That's great! I love it.  Now let me tell everyone how to enter. 

How to Enter
You have several chances to be entered into the random drawing. PLEASE read carefully; the entry requirements have been changed.

First entry: Visit Katy's shop Slash of Blue AND/OR website, come back here, and enter a comment about your favorite piece(s).
Second entry: Enter a comment if you have signed up to follow Katy's Facebook page (or comment if you already follow).
Third entry: Enter a comment that you signed up to follow my blog (or comment that you already follow).
Fourth entry: Enter a comment that you signed up to follow my Facebook page AND/OR my Pinterest page (or comment that you already follow).

That's four chances to enter for the random drawing!  Please be sure that your correct email address is in your profile; if it is not, include your email address in your comment.  I will use random number generator to pick a winner after

 12 noon EDT
Tuesday, May 7.

Good luck!

< www.Hypersmash.com

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Funnies

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wednesday's Words

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

WHERE ARE YOU??????????????

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Vintage Style Tea Light Blocks

I'm working on some new tea light blocks, hoping they'll be accepted into a local gift shop filled with  cool handmade work by local artists.  I have created these tea light blocks for Christmas before but wanted to create some for year-round use.

Here's the first three new blocks.

This one, Love Letters, combines vintage clip art with snippets of  actual love letters that a couple wrote to each other in the 1930s before they were married.  Let's just say the couple were relatives of mine.  :)

 This block incorporates drawings of vintage French objects, all having to do with babies and children.  I love these drawings!
I created the art for this alphabet block myself, incorporating a background with a vintage style type face.


I'm pleased with how these are turning out. What do you think?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday Funnies and a Birthday

I have had this cartoon for many years and it always makes me smile.  Perhaps because I'm an April baby but also because this month brings Spring's renewal to our lives. I get positively silly when the earth warms and everything starts blooming!

Today is also my birthday - my 70th birthday.  There - I said it - and it makes me laugh!  Seventy!?!  I feel much younger in my head until I look in the mirror and my mother's reflection stares back at me. Yep, makes me laugh!  

My family is gathering today for another occasion, so even though the spotlight will be on someone else, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.  I'm sure there will be lots of birthday wishes and lots of sarcastic comments about my age.  Family - gotta love 'em!

So enjoy your day - I'm sure my day will be a mix of tears, laughter and some somber birthday reflection. 

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