Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Artist Profile: Rae of MudStarCeramics

It's always a special day when I get to feature an artist that I have had the opportunity to collaborate with. Rae of Mud Star Ceramics contacted me about doing a couple of custom lampshades for her new Rosie Lamps. It was really great working with her and a lot of fun seeing the end result. (Check out the end of the post for pictures and info on where to buy.)


1. Where is your business based out of?

Princeton, N.J.

2. Where are you originally from?

A small town in Central N.J. called Colts Neck. Now it's a fancy sort of town with kind of icky McMansions (sorry, Colts Neck), but when I was growing up, it was a beautiful quiet little place with lots of farms.

3. How long have you been an artist and/or business owner?

I've always had a very active imagination, so I think maybe I was always an artist. Even as a kid, I loved strange collections of things and I always kept a notebook of things that I liked - lots of lists. I remember taking one whole afternoon making up names for colors I liked. I think I was convinced Crayola would hire me when I graduated fifth grade.

I've only just started my business. It's about a year old. I like to say it sort of evolved in spite of me, instead of because of me. It started very small: making things for friends, then some custom lamps for an interior designer, and it sort of grew from there. It's all happened by accident really. Some kind people had nice things to say about my work and it was like that shampoo commercial: "...and they told two friends, and so on, and so on...."

4. Where do you get your creative inspiration?

I love pattern and color and am a little obsessed with repetition. I love architecture for that reason. I love modern art. But as us artists know, inspiration can come from anywhere. For example, I recently took a walk in downtown Princeton, where I've walked a million times and found all these beautiful patterns and colors, in the street grates, the vines on an old stucco wall, even in the garbage! I write a blog that is about inspiration: www.mudstarceramics.blogspot.com. You can see the photos from that walk there.

I also love getting inspiration from my customers. I love doing custom orders. It's a lot of fun to have people bring me a fabric from their bedroom pillows or a wall color and working with making a lamp inspired by those things. I love the smallness and contained nature of lamps. I think of them as small sculptures.

5. What does your creative process entail?

I keep copious notes in my notebook. I paste clippings and photos there. I draw in there. I keep inspiration boards in my studio. A project usually starts with a photo of something or a piece of fabric. My last lamp was prompted by a drawing by my seven year old son. It was a series of squiggles, each row colored with a different color, and outside the lines, of course! That inspired my Scribble Scrabble lamp. The glaze worked perfectly by dripping outside the lines.

6. Would you say your environment (where you live, work, play) influences your creative process? If so, how?

I try to keep inspiring things around me. I have my inspiration boards and swatches in the studio. I walk and walk and walk in my neighborhood and town. I'm lucky to live in a leafy town with a lot of history, but that still has a young energy to it because of the University here. I love the architecture of the old buildings on campus, and of the Arts and Crafts homes on some of the Tree streets. And even though it interferes with all the traffic patterns around here, I even love the construction sites with all the cool stone and rebar in their piles. I even like the darn cement mixers.

7.Who are your creative mentors?

Oh geez! How much time do you have? I love Beatrice Wood, for her goblets and gorgeous luster glazes. I love Russell Wright and Eva Zeisel for their simple lines. And sculptors Anne Hamilton and Tara Donovan for their "collections" of things, and for their use of repetition in strong ways. I love the fabrics of Marimekko for bold lines and colors. I love photographer Sally Mann for her gorgeous sense of ruin. And Charles and Ray Eames for their modern and practical playfulness and vision.

8. Tell us about the one project you would say you are most proud of.

That project has nothing to do with clay. It would be my two sons, Lucas and Colin, aged 10 and 7! They truly are the joys of my life and keep me laughing every single day, even when I don't feel like it.

9. What do you enjoy doing when you're not creating?

My husband laughs at me because he says I'm always making something. I love to cook and bake and love having dinner parties for good friends. I read a ton, even when I'm "stirring the sauce"! And I write and meet with a wonderful writing group that gets together once a week. I even just finished a monologue that is going to be performed on stage of a little theater in a couple of months!

10. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope I'm still making things. I hope my children are happy, healthy young adults. I hope my husband still wants to hold my hand as we walk through town. I'd love to have a production line of lamps someday. I'd love to have a show that was all sculpture. And I hope I'm still as excited to crack that kiln as I was this morning.

Here is a picture of Rae's lamp with one of our custom lampshades. Isn't it fantastic?! The completed lamp is currently for sale at JANE, a new shop in Princeton, NJ. If you are in the area I implore you to pay a visit and see (or buy) Rae's completed "Rosie" lamp in person. If you are not in the area please check out her etsy site by clicking here.

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