Ceramic artist Lori Katz shares her portfolio of functional work and wall art, and talks about the business of craft.
ABI: Tell us about your unusual process.
LK: Patterns and marks on my dinnerware and serving pieces are an inlay of black stoneware into white stoneware. So the designs are not painted on with glaze but are a result of the two clay bodies worked together. Dinnerware and serving pieces are all food and dishwasher-safe, meant to be used and enjoyed.
Wall pieces begin with the same inlay process but some also include a reverse inlay of white into black, slips, underglaze, glaze, cold wax, oil paint and metal leaf. Some of my newest pieces incorporate wire and metal and have heavily textured surfaces.
Vessels, bowls and teapots are wheel-thrown and altered, often finished with an unglazed exterior.
ABI: What do you feel is the most important element in fine craft?
LK: Craftsmanship, craftsmanship, craftsmanship! Of course, one always works toward a piece that has a balance of aesthetic and function, but the work MUST be well made, beautifully constructed.
ABI: What selling points do you use when presenting your work to customers?
LK: I knew that if I didn’t come up with a hanging system, I would never be able to sell my wall squares. Hanging an evenly spaced group of thirty-six elements (or even three!) can be a daunting task. So I designed a simple paper template that the customer takes home and tapes to the hanging wall. They make a mark through the template and onto the wall at every “X” printed on the template. A picture hook is placed at every mark and the squares are hung on the hooks. Easy.
The templates also work as a tool to show a potential customer how/where the work would best hang in their space. I consult with clients on the size and spacing of a grouping and will travel to do so when it makes sense monetarily. I do installation at no charge within a 60 mile radius of my studio.
I have a studio at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA that is open to the public. Customers and potential customers can see my work hung in my studio six days a week. Even when the studio is closed, work is visible through the studio windows.
The modular component of my wall work makes it possible for a customer to “add on” as their art budget and wall space grow. What begins as one or two pieces can evolve into a sixteen-square grouping or grow to cover an entire wall. A tight sixteen square group can be spaced differently to cover a larger area and achieve an entirely different feel.
The simple graphic imagery provides a strong but calm focal point that works well in both residential and commercial settings. Color on the wall pieces is an oil paint technique so theoretically I can offer any color I can mix in paint. Theoretically, because while I do consider customer input, my aesthetic guides my use of color.
ABI: What is your focus now?
LK: Currently, my focus is directed toward my wall work, and experimenting with surface. I find myself moving away from my more food-oriented pieces and am working on a series of large altered vessels that don’t even pretend to want to hold fruit.