The first time we saw Debra Aase's work we had to pick our jaws up off the floor. Maybe it was the sheer quailty of her line work. Maybe it was her ability to tell a narrative with her collections. Or maybe it was just the mermaids. (Who doesn't love mermaids, right?) Whatever the case, we were instantly mes-mer-ized. Debra uses a very simple color palette on the majority of her work (aqua, black, white, and the occassional pop of gold lustre), but this by no means distracts from the quality of her work. Her graphic style makes for bold, beautiful creations often depicting mythical and fantastic characters from the deep. From mermaids on mugs to blue whales spanning two whole plates, Debra's work depicts a lore all its own and shows a great appreciation for the mysteries of the sea.
[Photo credit for upper left to Pranee Loffer from Beauty for Ashes Photography. Find her at beautyforashesphotography.com or on Instagram @beautyforashes_photography]
How did you come to be interested in working with clay?
Just after college I was living one block from a pottery studio. I have always had an appreciation for this art form and the unique artists’ “voices” I had seen emerge from it. Being a self proclaimed life-long-learner, I spent many evenings in class and independently at the wheel practicing and loving every minute form throwing.
What inspires your work?
My concentration in school was book making. I love illustrated narrative, story telling through clay. My wheel thrown porcelain-ware is the canvas for my stories, usually tales of the high seas. As an illustrator I care as much about my hand painted work on the clay as I do about the clay form itself.
What’s your favorite thing about clay?
I love the possibility of clay. When I first began it was a mystery what the clay would become in my hands. Now it's more of a mastery and partnership with the clay. I am able to control the outcome, but the clay will also tell me when it is done being pushed about and needs a rest.
What has been the most challenging part of pursuing ceramics?
I am the mother of 4 of the most amazing children I have ever known. They are my heart song. It is a challenge not to spread myself too thin, but my children celebrate my clay work and often come along side me as I work.
Which AMACO products do you always find yourself going back to? How do these products speak to your work?
I mentioned that I am an illustrator and I want my line work to be crisp. Without compromise AMACO Velvet Underglaze is my go to for pure, true color. Whether applied by brush or fine tipped applicator, AMACO’s underglazes are smooth and consistent. I have quite a collection of colors in my studio.
What's your biggest pet peeve?
There are a few word that make me cringe: “slacks”, “loaf”, and “chunk”
Who was your childhood hero?
My Bestemor (grandmother). Her life was defined by love, strength and deep faith.
If you could hop on a plane right now and go anywhere, where would you go and why?
I would go to Norway. My father was born there. My husband and children have never been. We are planning a pilgrimage in a few years.
Ninjas, pirates, or wizards?
Pirates definitely, it's in my Viking blood.