SURFACE DESIGN MEETS CERAMICS

Grey color inspiration: the color of sky before a snowstorm.

Grey color inspiration: the color of sky before a snowstorm.

The Celadon Studio
Northhampton, MA

Malea Rhodes is the creative inspiration behind Celadon Studio in North Hampton, MA. In addition to the production of her own pieces, she also teaches classes, and runs a "community clay space" in her pottery studio. We were immediately attracted to her bold designs, beautiful surface patterns and of course her friendly nature. "In college, I was told my pots were strong but boring. What's a girl to do with that information? So, I set out to try every type of surface design I could find. And, as it happened, the clay that works the best with surface design is porcelain. 
It took some getting used to, but for the past 10 years I have worked exclusively in porcelain clay. The soft and clean surface you get with porcelain allows me to carve and inlay to my hearts desire and gives me the most crisp effects." Here is a little more about Malea and her work...

Surfaces inspired by vintage quilts and wallpapers.

Surfaces inspired by vintage quilts and wallpapers.

Many of your pieces incorporate unique surface patterns - what are your inspirations for these designs?
My patterns and texture are inspired by vintage quilts and wallpaper patterns. A few years back I was at a craft show and my booth was back to back with a contemporary quilter. I had my sketch book with me so in between customers I was constantly sketching her amazing patterns. It changed the surfaces of my work and the way I approach treating the surfaces. I now spend hours scouring Pintrest for wallpaper and quilt patterns, sketching and changing them to things that work with the shapes of my pottery. 

Mishima Carving and Slip Trailing techniques.

Mishima Carving and Slip Trailing techniques.

Handmade ceramics are very popular right now - what do you customers respond to most in you work and what types of pieces are customers most interested in?
People are immediately drawn to the soft color palate that I use. I tend to work in grays, and muted shades of blues; colors that are soft, relaxing and really work with any home decor. Next when they get up close they are drawn to the patterns and want to touch the carving and raised, slip trailed details. When I make a pot, it's my goal to make someone want to pick it up and touch it.  I also make pieces that are more unusual that folks won't find with other potters, like a citrus juicer or loose leaf tea infuser. Making specialty items sets me apart, they aren't trying to decide which potters mugs they like the best, I make things they can only get from me and I try to make them with the highest craftsmanship and as beautifully as I can. I think my attention to detail and the pride I take in my work shows through. 

Your studio is located in western Massachusetts - how does the New England region influence your pieces, process or business? 
My colors are inspired by hazy New England days and the endless blues and grays you get from looking at the sky. No matter what time of year, or the weather, the sky never fails to offer a lovely hue. The grey that I am using so prominently now is, to me, the color of the sky before a snow storm. 

Hand thrown dinnerware set.

Hand thrown dinnerware set.

Why do you feel handmade products are important to the market today? 
The longer I have participated in the handmade movement the more I have discovered the importance of having things in my life that are truly made well. Nothing can compare to the love, and craftsmanship given to a handmade item by a maker that is passionate about their craft. There is a warmth in handmade products that you just don't get from mass produced items. Imperfections are cause for celebration as it makes that piece even more one of a kind. It just can't be duplicated by a machine. 

Learn more at
www.theceladonstudio.com

Shop at
Celadon Studio Etsy Shop

Photos: Melissa DiPalma