Pickle Pottery is owned and operated by Stephanie Adams in Nevada City, California. I interviewed Stephanie to find out about her thought process, inspiration, and techniques. Hope you enjoy!
How did you get interested in ceramics? Was it a class or a teacher or a fellow artist or a studio?
I was shy in high school & found the ceramics room comfortable. I spent a lot of time in there.
Was ceramics your first artistic medium?
I remember doing lots of art projects growing up. I took all sorts of classes in high school & college. In graduate school I focused on ceramic sculpture. It wasn't until after college that I decided to be a potter.
What is the story of how you started your company Pickle Pottery?
I was making lots of pottery, developing my personal style. I applied for a local craft fair here in Nevada City & they asked for my business name....I wrote pickle pottery (after my dog, pickle) and that was the start of everything!
You have worked with many media in the past like painting, fashion, and sculpture. Are you still working in these media? If so, what are some things you have been doing recently outside of the realm of Pickle Pottery?
Because of all my orders, I haven't had much time to do a lot of other mediums. I keep a sketchbook that I doodle, paint, tape, sew, & write in.
With your Pickle Pottery company, you seem to focus on functional ceramics. What is it that draws you to make work that people can use?
The pottery process is meditational for me. I enjoy making the work & because it is labor intensive, it gives me pleasure to know that people use it daily & consider it beautiful.
What is some inspiration for the images you use on your ceramics?
I love patterns--I see them everywhere: in nature, wallpaper, fabric, etc...
Who are some artists or designers that influence you and your style?
I am inspired by the detail of Ernst Haeckel drawings, the playfulness of Thomas Campbell paintings, & the simplicity of Louise Bourgeois bronze sculptures. As far as pottery, I love Japanese aesthetics & the concept of wabi sabi.
What is the story behind some of the images you use?
It's usually an image or pattern I see somewhere that I doodle with until it works on a 3D object.
Are these motifs ones that you sketch or paint first or do you approach the ceramic piece without knowing the imagery?
You work a lot with flat and graphic patterns. Why are you attracted to flat patterns and shapes? Do you find this style of imagery comes across better on 3D objects?
I've always been attracted to flat, graphic patterns. I do like how it comes across on 3D objects.
The color palette you use with your Pickle Pottery company is limited (blue, black, gold, and silver). Do you find this allows you to play with the patterns while creating a series?
I limit my palette mostly because I know it works & is consistent. It's also costly to have lots of different glazes & materials. it's worked for me to keep it simple.
One of the things you talk about on your site is your interest in wabi sabi. Is this something that relates to your patterns and glazing style as well as the shapes of the forms?
Ah, yes! I love wabi sabi aesthetic--that there is beauty in imperfections. My pottery is handmade & hand decorated. Each piece is unique & one-of-a-kind. They are all different and imperfect. To me, this shows the artist's hand in the work, the makers mark.
Repeated imagery and patterns seems to be a theme in your work, specifically with use of glaze motifs as well as the shapes of the objects. Why do you work with pattern and repetition both with form and imagery?
Mostly because the process is meditational to me. Some days I'm weighing clay & throwing a bunch of the same shapes, other days I'm painting patterns. It puts me in a zone. I also like the finished product.
Are you always exploring new forms to work with or is there something nice in approaching the wheel knowing that you are about to make a specific object?
I have days when I feel the need to experiment & play with new shapes & designs.
Are you making work outside of the Pickle Pottery company, and if so, how does it differ?
I am mostly making Pickle Pottery works, even if I'm experimenting with other shapes & designs. I occasionally make sculptures & they turn out as all sorts of different things! most recently little creatures.