Though I don’t know how to do it myself, I’ve had a love affair with handmade pottery and ceramics at least since high school. I have a fairly large collection, and nothing brings me more pleasure than adding to it. In 2006, Todd and I went to a ceramics show at BYU. And at this show we fell in love with the work of a young potter named Melanie McGee.
Melanie’s thesis show, that we saw that day at BYU, consisted of a series of hand built large spherical forms with conical shapes extending out from the center. They looked like large sea shells or sea animals. A few months later, at Christmas time, Palmer’s Gallery had a pottery show. I fell in love with some very affordable pots with black and white images carved into the surface – and discovered these were also by Melanie McGee. In fact, I bought one of Melanie’s carved bowls for Todd and he liked it so much he went back to Palmer’s and bought one for me. I asked Melanie about her carved pieces – which are my favorite and this is what she had to say:
“The carving style I use is called sgraffito which is a process of carving through one layer of colored clay to reveal the uncolored clay beneath. I had a brief introduction to the sgraffito technique as an undergraduate but it wasn’t until a fellow grad student made a series of sgraffito pieces that I became more interested. Her work was very loose, organic and spontaneous and she made it look so easy. I experimented with it until I developed my own style that was less spontaneous and more graphic design-ish. I was inspired to use black and white images from a series of paper cuttings that my father was working on around the same time. His design style was based on traditional European cuttings while my images were simplified stencil like cut outs of figures, faces or just simple shapes. My interest in black and white photography helped give me more material to work with as I used my own photos from previous photography classes to piece together collages that I then translated onto the curved forms of thrown or slab built works.”
A lot has changed for Melanie since her thesis show at BYU. Palmer’s Gallery sadly closed. But I have stayed in touch with her and continued collecting her work. Melanie McGee is now known as Melanie Evans and she has become a mom and an art teacher. Like all of us, she struggles to find time to create amid her duties at home and work. Melanie is now working on a process to screen print images on clay that I’m very excited to see. Here’s what she had to say about the process of working with clay:
“I love making things out of clay because it’s something real that people can hold and look at and experience and maybe they’ll love it as much as I love making it.”
You can see Melanie’s available work at Melware.etsy.com. Or drop us a comment and we’ll link you up with her. She does commission work and is making us a dinnerware set in the sgraffito style based on San Francisco graffiti. Click here to read our entire written interview with Melanie.