Cathy Kiffney, Ceramic Artist
Cathy Kiffney, Ceramic Artist, creates nature inspired colorful hand-built ceramic wall-works, vessels and art tiles out of her Chapel Hill, North Carolina studio.
Living in the deep woods I enjoy daily opportunity to observe nature, the beauty and the beast.
I seek out the mystery and beauty experienced by a walk in the woods, the quiet places and secret gardens. My recent works of wall pieces include a menagerie of birds, rabbits, moths, owls and foxes and imaginary animals coupled with botanical themes.
Each clay piece is one-of-a-kind, created in a series. It is primarily hand built out of terra-cotta or white stoneware clay. Surfaces are painted with a variety of slips and glazes along with sgraffito on the surface.
Sometimes I use my own molds and hand-made stamps as aids in the forming and texturing of the surface. Other times I draw into moist slabs of clay with my finger or carve using wood block carving tools.
After several weeks of very slow drying the sculpture is painted with colored clay slip or engobe and fired in a kiln to 1900 degrees. After cooling the piece is hand painted with ceramic glazes. The glazes are often very temperamental. Re-firing the piece with more glazes, lustres, crystal glazes is often necessary to achieve the vibrant surfaces that characterize my art.
Clay is a material of contradictions. It is challenging and forgiving, simple and complex, predictable and surprising, primitive and refined. I continue to learn and explore.