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#howiAMACO InstaFeature - Steph McGunigal


Stephanie's work makes us want to head north and experience the Canadian wilderness for ourselves! Inspired by the nature just outside her back door, Steph's clean-lined sgraffito imagery combined with lovely layering combinations makes for unique wares that emulate the night sky. We love her creative use of ceramics to express her own imaginative interpretation of the mountains and forests that surround her.

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

I had just graduated university and was working as a pharmacist when I fell in love with clay. I was craving a creative outlet after spending years on mostly science-related learning. I was stressed spending my days filling hundreds of prescriptions in a busy pharmacy and I thought that working on a pottery wheel looked meditative and creative. I took an adult evening class for a few evenings and I realized that it wasn't as easy as it looked, but I was instantly hooked. When the class was over, I realized working with clay was something I needed to keep in my life, so I bought my own pottery wheel and began to learn at home in my free time.

What inspires your work?

I live in Alberta, Canada, where the prairies meet the Canadian Rockies. I am lucky enough to be able to experience the beauty of the prairie skies and ancient glaciers, all moments from my home. I am inspired by natural phenomena, like the Northern Lights, the blue green of glacial lakes, and the craggy geological surfaces of my surroundings. Whenever I travel somewhere new and see something beautiful out in nature, I am intrigued by how I might capture that beauty as a glazed surface.

What's your favorite thing about clay?

My favorite thing about the ceramic process is that I still don't always know what I am going to find when I open the kiln. I am still a science nerd at heart and I love when glazes react in an unexpected way or a certain temperature change or firing schedule completely changes the glazed surface. There is always something new to learn with clay. Because I am mostly self-taught, that learning process involves a lot of experimentation. I love that I can be creative and still get my science fix.

Which AMACO products do you always find yourself going back to? How do these products speak to your work?

Lately I have been doing a lot of sgraffito work and I find the Velvet Underglazes are really easy to use and give consistent results. I love experimenting and I have found that the Potter's Choice line of glazes layer beautifully together to produce a myriad of bright, vibrant colours. The AMACO layering site is a favourite resource of mine when I am looking for inspiration or new ideas. I get bored easily, so I love having so many glaze choices to help me keep changing things up. My favourite thing is opening the kiln after trying some new layering experiments.

If you weren't an artist, what would you be?

I tend to get obsessed with my hobbies. I love gardening, propagating plants and planning new landscaping projects. If I could work for myself and still make my own hours the way I do with ceramics, I would love to work in horticulture.

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

I love to read books set in India and that has made me want to travel there. I love traveling and in a perfect world I could spend my whole life just exploring new places.

Ninjas, pirates, or wizards?

Wizards are my heroes, but pirates are my people.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

I would trade 10 years of my life to be able to flap my arms and take flight. Or maybe I would have a cape; that would look cooler.