Husband and wife team Justin and Melanie Mckenney of Vegetabowls create a very popular line of ceramic work. ABI caught up with Justin Mckenney to talk about how they did it.
ABI: What technique do you use to create Vegetabowls?
JM: We begin by making a plaster mold of an actual fruit or vegetable. When the plaster is set, we remove the fruit, leaving a negative space in the plaster with the shape and texture of the fruit. We then pour liquid earthenware clay (called slip) into the mold.
This process is known as slip-casting. When the slip is the right thickness, we pour out the excess slip. The bowl is then trimmed and cleaned by hand and then fired in the kiln. When the bisque firing is done we hand paint food-safe glazes onto the bowl to reflect the bright colors of its edible inspiration. The bowl is glaze fired in the kiln and ready to use.
ABI: Since you started your business, you have experienced explosive growth. What do you attribute that to?
JM: We try to use every resource available to us. From farmer’s markets to craft & wholesale trade shows, we have found that the more exposure Vegetabowls get, more opportunities come from that.
ABI: What message do you aim to promote with your line of Vegetabowls?
JM: We hope that Vegetabowls promotes local farming, healthy eating, and an appreciation for handmade functional housewares. We love to hear when our customers get inspired to make and serve healthy recipes in our bowls.
ABI: Have you learned any important lessons about wholesaling that you think would be valuable to artists just starting out?
JM: We have learned that is important to set your terms, have realistic reasons for them, and stick by them.