Instagram is the source of many of the best surprises that come my way; THrō Studio, with it’s modern minimalist aesthetic, being one of those little gasps of pleasure that fill my week. I don’t even recall how I stumbled across @throstudio, it was just a fortuitous collision of circumstances. There I found modern ceramics artist Erica Williams. There are plenty of pottery artists on Insta, but she caught my eye. Today she has happily consented to share some of her work with The Crux and talk to us about her clay pottery, inspiration and design, and divulge some tips on purchasing hand-crafted pieces from ceramic pottery artists.
I’ve been really into pottery lately, not doing pottery myself or even buying clay pottery, just thinking about pottery. For Christmas I gave two couples in my life the gift of a ceramics class (one of my more ingenious ideas). Mostly I’ve just been enjoying the idea of pottery, and basking in the soulful beauty of pottery. Maybe you want to bask a little with me? So, let’s see what Erica has to say about her edgy style and artistic passions.
Hi Erica! What about clay pottery first attracted you as a medium?
My connection with clay started my sophomore year of college, I had signed up for a pottery class just to fill the hours. The first time I sat down at the pottery wheel I fell in love. I made a connection with the clay that I couldn’t seem to get enough of. I wanted to spend every second that I possibly could with my hands in clay. Being able to turn a ball of clay into a functional piece of art is what attracts me.
Tell me about these corks. I feel like the rough surfaces and pigment is very fresh.
I like the corks because they are also a natural material, and I like working with clay for that reason; using them alongside each other gives the piece a unique look. To me the corks really add to the character of the piece. I like seeing the rough texture of the bark with the smooth surface of the clay.
How do ceramics give meaning to your life?
I started THrō Studio in hopes of sharing my handmade ceramics with the world. I want people to feel like they have something special when they hold my work in their hands; a connection that enhances the way people eat and live, much like I do when I’m making the pieces. When I start working the only thing I see are the pieces my mind, which my hands are turning into reality. When that happens, I can shut the world out and get
lost in my work.
Can you describe your personal aesthetic?
Less is more. I’m very minimal in my style and work. I find beauty in simplicity. My personality reflects in my work and that’s what I love most about making pieces and seeing them finished—not just mine, but any makers. You can tell when a maker is truly passionate about their work because their personality and style are put into it.
In what way does function come into your perspective on design?
In my opinion function is very important. I’ve never been much on material items, but the items that I do have I want them to be handmade and I want them to function properly. I like functional ceramics because when you use them you connect with them. I find it very satisfying using something that was hand crafted. Not just ceramics, but items that can be used everyday such as bags, furniture, bedding, etc.
Where do you craft your ceramic pieces?
I have a small home based studio in my backyard. It was my grandpa’s work shop when he was a carpenter and half of it is now my studio. It’s nothing special, but it works and I’m very grateful for my little slice of, what I call, home because that’s where I spend most of my time.
How do you generate inspiration for your work?
I look outside of ceramics for inspiration, because disconnecting is very helpful. My mom is an interior designer so I often find myself flipping through her design magazines, mostly looking at minimal and modern architecture, and simplifying the shapes and forms in my mind. Going for a run or working out is also a sure-fire source of inspiration. My mind unravels during exercise, allowing me to stop over-thinking and stay true to myself.
What is something that people might be surprised to learn about you?
I have a small obsession with fishing. I grew up between Rayburn and the Toledo Bend Lake, so fishing is something my dad and I have always shared. It’s our favourite way to spend time together, and during the summer if I’m not working that’s where you can find me. I always thought it would be something I would eventually grow out of, but I love it. Spending all day on the lake with my dad is something special.
How did mentorship play into your development as an artist? What was the best thing you learned?
I had two mentors that really impacted my life. They taught me everything I know about clay, firing kilns, glazing etc. Although we have completely different styles, it was the little things that I would pay attention to. I would watch the way they worked and connected with the clay, like how focused and confident they were in their work. I was learning things from them that they didn’t even know they were teaching me.
Can you share some tips on shopping for hand-crafted ceramics by pottery artists with our readers?
To me the beauty of hand crafted ceramics are the perfect imperfections. I love seeing a niche from a tool or fingerprint. It makes that piece unique because there is no other piece like it in the world. That is what I look for when I see hand made ceramics. I feel like, when you find this quality in a piece of pottery you truly have something special. The marks from its maker create a story of clay, hands and passion.
An interview with edgy modern ceramics artist Erica Williams.