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#howiAMACO Insta Feature - Q&A with Kathleen Kalish

Kathleen Kalish

Instagram: @clayandcompass


The first thing that drew us to Kathleen's work was, admittedly, a Game of Thrones reference on one of her pieces. There's certainly more than one GoT fan around here and the infamous, "That's what I do. I drink and I know things," quote from the Lannister imp caught our attention. And after scrolling through Kathleen's Instagram it seems we've definitely found a kindred spirit. We adore her quirky and straight-forward approach to her wares. Condensed color palettes, floral graphics, and simple patterning go a long way on her work. Despite being self-proclaimed as "relatively new to pottery," we've found that Kathleen's work is a breath of fresh air as she often leaves large areas of clay exposed, letting the material speak for itself. We can't wait to see what else she does with the medium as she continues to learn, but we're praying to the old gods and the new for more Game of Thrones themed wares. We can wish, right?

How did you come to be interested in working with clay?

A friend of mine was taking a class at a local pottery studio and asked if I would be interested in joining her. I had never considered myself a very artistic person (I draw stick people and even those are poorly drawn), so I went along half-heartedly, but ended up falling in love. Clay lit a fire in the creative center of my brain, and I was hooked.

What inspires your work?

Finding beauty in the everyday. My work tends to be functional and I like to think of my pieces being used for daily life such as morning coffee or an evening dram. They bring an extra layer to an ordinary experience, such as the texture of the raw clay as you sip or the color of the ocean in your mug as you finish your tea.

What’s your favorite thing about clay?

Its resiliency. When I’m working and something goes sideways, I can just wedge it all back together again and start over. Clay is both permanence and impermanence.

What has been the most challenging part of pursuing ceramics?

Time and equipment! It feels like I constantly have fourteen different ideas floating around in my head, but limited time to try to bring them to fruition. I’m also working out of my apartment at the moment, and I don’t have a kiln at home, so transporting my greenware in the back of my car makes for very stressful road trips. I never knew how many bumps there were in the road until I had bone dry pottery in the trunk!

Which AMACO products do you always find yourself going back to?

I use the Velvet Underglaze all the time and am collecting quite a selection of colors. It’s so easy to use, especially for those of us relatively new to pottery. I also enjoy experimenting with the Potter’s Choice and Celadon glazes and working on beautiful layering combinations.

How do these products speak to your work?

Because my pieces are mostly calm and understated, using Velvet Underglaze enhances the form without being overwhelming and allows me to have some fun with the surface decoration. Using Celadon glaze creates a similar effect, especially with textured forms, as it allows so much of the piece itself to shine.

What's your favorite book?

In my top five favorite things in life, books rank up there with clay, whisky, and men in three piece suits, so it’s hard to pick just one. I tend to have favorite authors, such as Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood, but Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is certainly amongst my favorite books.

If you could hop on a plane right now and go anywhere, where would you go and why?

Speyside, Scotland. Gorgeous Scottish landscape with a smorgasbord of world-class distilleries. The problem would be getting me back on the plane home. Also, remembering where I put my luggage.

What's your Hogwarts house?

According to Pottermore and my son - Slytherin. Which I’m totally okay with, because my love for Alan Rickman stretches back decades. And some mornings my hair resembles Bellatrix Lestrange more than I’d like to admit.

Ninjas, pirates, or wizards?

Ninjas and wizards are cool and everything, but pirates have all the rum. It’s the pirate life for me!