Kristin Pavelka – Red Lodge Clay Center

Kristin PavelkaEden Prairie, Minnesota

Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident (AIA) 2017

It comes as no surprise that I make functional pots. Growing up in a family comprised of an inventor, quilter, seamstress, carpenter, and two farmers, a love for food and creative endeavors is in my blood. I choose to make highly decorative functional pottery, combining historical ceramic influences with a modern design sensibility.

I grew up in Cottage Grove, MN, a suburb on the southeast edge of St. Paul, nestled between city and farmland. I earned my BA from Carleton College focusing on Studio Arts, and I completed my MFA at Penn State University in 2004 where I developed a love for earthenware. I returned to Minnesota and received an adjunct teaching position at Hamline University in St. Paul. During my five years of teaching at the college, I spent a summer at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana, a month long woodfire residency in Goshogawara, Japan, a two week residency at Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in Maine, and received a Jerome Foundation grant. I left my teaching job in 2009 when my first son, Noah, was born. Oliver arrived two years later. I was awarded a Minnesota State Arts grant in 2010 and a Next Step Fund grant in 2016. Currently, I reside in Eden Prairie, MN, where I work from home making highly decorated utilitarian pottery.

I make decorative utilitarian pottery, focusing on dinnerware and small serving pieces. My kitchen utensils combine clay handles with refurbished vintage metal utensil blades, bowls and wire. My pots help celebrate a meal for one or a meal with friends.

I come from a family with skilled hands. My father invents materials aiding in traffic control, my mother is handy with a needle and thread. My paternal grandparents farmed and my maternal grandparents were a carpenter and a seamstress. Given my ancestral surroundings, it makes perfect sense that I would make objects for food.

Many things influence my aesthetic decisions regarding form and surface of my pots. I’m drawn to the rundown architectural forms found on farms and rural communities. In contrast, I love the organic contours of midcentury design. Depression era feed sack fabric patterns and Scandinavian design inform the pattern development for the pot surfaces. Color choices and combinations are derived from the decorative styling of Martha Stewart, fashion trends and sweets. I try to surround myself with objects that pique my interest and in return these objects lend themselves to my imagination and manifest in my pots.

The roots of my work stem from being diagnosed with pre-diabetes. The softness of fat translated into the soft silhouettes of my pots; the overindulgence of sweets related to my focus on dessert dishes and sugary glaze palette. Although visually my pots still lie within this vein of work, currently I’m not interested in making pots about my condition; rather I’m allowing myself the freedom of exploring new techniques to create pots that embrace my idea of beauty.

Most of my pots are made from rich red earthenware clay, layered with white slip and terra sigillata. Pots may be thrown on the wheel, handbuilt from slabs or a combination of both. After mapping out my design in pencil, I draw the patterns using an old dental tool, scratching through the slip to expose the underlying red clay. Multiple layers of glaze are painted and poured to create a depth on the pot’s surface. Each piece is fired a minimum of three times in an electric kiln. A new body porcelain work is being developed utilizing impressed textures and mishima.