Monday, October 19, 2009

Instructor Introduction: CatherineTweedie

Please tell us a little about yourself; your name, background, education, and a fun fact or two. How long have you been working with clay and how did you get started?
My name is Catherine Tweedie, and while I was raised in Evanston, after a decade spent living in various parts of Chicago I feel more native to the City. I remember, vividly, every episode throughout elementary school involving clay: pinch-pots, coil vases, slab boxes and finally wheel throwing in high school. I took at least one ceramics class every semester in college. When I graduated from Beloit College I found myself living in Chicago, and looking for clay facilities. Lill St. became my haven and I've never left. I've been obsessed with clay for as long as I can remember.

What are your influences, both inside and outside of the clay world?
I love to cook, but mostly I love to bake. I make functional ceramic pieces based upon daily use within the kitchen, dining room, garden and beyond. I believe that when you incorporate functional art into your everyday existence it raises your level of ceremony and appreciation. The days where I leave myself enough time in the morning to drink out of a handmade coffee cup, and I'm not just leaving the house with a thermos for the road, are days that start on a more positive note, and my coffee tastes better.

I love numbers, and incorporate them widely in the surface detail/decoration on my pieces. Numbers are how we quantify everything in our lives, and thus they are universal. I think their forms are beautiful and curvy, and they work well to accentuate the rounded forms I like to make. They are endlessly descriptive in their simplicity.

Do you sell your work? If so, how can one find it?
I sell my work in New Buffalo, Michigan at Dancing Loon Artisans, and through my studio at Lill St.

What advice can you give to students of the ceramic arts?
Take advantage of your open studio hours. Lill St. has open studio hours 10am-10pm seven days a week. Keeping familiar with the process will stretch your skills exponentially. So much depends upon reaching the clay at the right wet/dry state. Always work in series. If you're going to make two cups then why not make six? Watch other people throw or hand-build. Everyone has slightly different technique, and the smallest nuance can sometimes make a huge difference in your own practice. Music is vital within the studio setting. Make sure you've got a radio handy at all times.

How do you spend your time when not working with clay?
I bike, garden, wait tables, travel, and cook.

Any parting words?
"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life," Pablo Picasso.
"Eighty percent of life is showing up," Woody Allen.

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