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What clay body do you use?

    "Medium body, Longhorn White, both with and without grog, Longhorn Red. More and more, raku."

     Primary forming method?

    "Handbuilding all the way! I use a slab roller and build with small slabs. I never took to working with coils."

    Primary firing temperature?

    "Low to medium range."

    Favorite surface treatment?

    "Hmm… I kinda let the work tell me. I love matte finishes lately, & monochromatics with small details of screaming red, orange, green, etc.

    Favorite Tools?

    "First my hands. Then, I use Pampered Chef paring knives. I buy 3 or 4 for the kitchen & once they get the slightest bit dull, they retire to the studio. This is my #1 tool, can’t work without it. I also LOVE chopsticks. I take them home from the sushi bar- having just used them, of course. I’ve got a beautiful old distressed red paintbrush handle. Give me these three tools in that order, & I can pretty much do all my work."

    Describe your studio environment.

    "Less than two years after sinking a small fortune into a standalone studio at our home in Dallas, we were transferred to Houston with my husband’s job. Yeah. So, I am currently working in a spare bedroom, which is fine, if small. It’s on the second story, so there are the complications that come with that, but I have a window that looks out into the branches of a large Oak tree, and that makes me very happy. I’m crowded into a small space, so it tends to get messy, but I seem to have this ‘put it away, you may as well throw it away’ mentality, so there’s going to be that -stuff- anyway. I get very inspired by little bits of ephemera and other bits and pieces. I also listen to podcasts for hours on end in the studio as I work. I am definitely intrigued with science and medical research, as well as stories about this world we live in. A few of my favorites are Radio Lab, Reply All, Stuff You Should know, Science Versus, This American Life, S Town, Serial, Memory Palace, Freakonomics Radio, TED Radio Hour, Love and Radio, The Moth…stop me, I could go on & on!"

    How/Where do you market your artwork?

    "I belong to a wholesale site which markets to shops & galleries. My Facebook art page has been a good source for retail sales, though they are making that harder unless you want to pay Facebook for exposure. Instagram is a good free resource, though it costs in time, which is pretty valuable to me, so I’ve not been great with the social media. I do have an email list and will sometimes do postcards for upcoming shows. I would have to say word of mouth, and definitely return customers is what keeps my business going. I hand out a lot of cards. I’ve done some magazine ads over the years, but I can’t say the ROI was great."

    How/Where do you sell your artwork?

    "The number of accounts varies, but my work is represented in somewhere between twenty and twenty five stores in several states at any one time. I do about 6 to 8 retail festivals and fairs around the country, and gallery shows."

    What sparks your creativity? What drives you to work with clay?
    "I LOVE seeing what other artists are doing. I adore children’s art and talking with kids about art. I get lots of inspiration from gallery shows and art exhibits, this is when I am most energized in the studio, after just having filled the well with fabulous visuals. I have a bit of Stendahl Syndrome in that I really feel art in my bones and my skin, my breathing and heart rate slow down while looking at art I love. I know immediately when I am looking at something that speaks to me, I truly feel it. Clay was an accidental segue from working with metal as a jeweler. Metal is hard both figuratively and literally. I didn’t feel this until I stopped making jewelry. A friend sat me down with a lump of clay and I immediately made seven little heads. I was smitten. Clay felt almost ‘weightless’."
    Did you come to pottery from a different career? Tell us about your journey to a ceramics career.
    "I worked as a freelance set decorator and art director in the film industry. It was something I stumbled into with no training. I’d meet with producers and  directors who’d say we need, or we want, and it didn’t matter what it was, a giant piggy bank, a twelve foot wide engagement ring box, buried pirates’ treasure (I’ve done all of these and lots more), I’d shake their hands and say, no problem, then I’d walk away trying to figure out how to make that happen. For the first few years, it was mostly lower budget projects and I found later that that’s exactly where I shine, the harder I have to push myself to deliver, the better the finished project will be. There’s no textbook on this stuff, I was making things up as I went along. I found myself more and more making the props I needed, seeking out projects that allowed me to be wildly creative.  So when it came to clay, I was definitely no stranger to building “stuff”."

    How have you have taken your experience as a well-established maker in the field and passed that knowledge along to students?

    "I volunteer in schools using my art as a foot in the door, but I bring along my message of being imperfectly perfect. The unusual art, and I bring along some of the edgier pieces for high school-aged, definitely gets their attention. It allows me to speak about accepting and celebrating our imperfections. I also love helping young artists who are questioning a career in art, or how to make art work for them, I explain that as artists, we are questers and as such we are very much about the journey, making the end result often self-defeating, and I offer ways to overcome this to help enable them to finish projects, and to price and sell their work. I love sharing what I’ve learned with young artists."

    What’s the best advice you’ve been given by a fellow maker, mentor, or teacher?

    "Many years ago, I spontaneously up and moved from Baton Rouge, LA to Austin, TX. I didn’t really know anyone (ok, one friend, cause she is going to read this) or have any prospects for film work. I just figured they would make room for me. Nope. It was dog eat dog. There wasn’t enough film work to supply the established film community with steady work. I had lots of doors slammed in my face. I was really discouraged. I’d taken a tiny attic apartment and worried about how to pay the bills. I had some savings, but I needed to make money. I was talking with a long-time fabulous artist friend on the phone and I told her about my fear of having made a mistake. She asked if I was making jewelry to sell and I told her my jewelers bench, fuel tanks and other tools were in storage. There was no room in my tiny (overpriced) apartment to set it up. She said four words: “Take down your bed”. “What?”, I thought I’d heard her wrong. “Take down your bed”, she said it again. It has become my battle cry over the years. Any time I am faced with a tough situation, I just think “take down your bed”. It reminds me to do whatever I need to do in order to accomplish my goal."

    Website URL and other social media platforms:
    Denise studied design at LSU but remains an outsider artist in her chosen medium. For the past twenty-five years, she has worked as a freelance art director and set decorator in the film and video industry. Her work takes her to such great cities as Las Vegas, Denver, & NYC. As film can be quite chaotic, she feels that the quiet days spent in her studio form the perfect balance.
    My work is about human imperfection. I resent the package we are sold by much of media regarding a one-size-fits-all notion of beauty. Having grown up with a handicapped brother, I grew up knowing the incredible beauty in imperfection. When we have young people with body image problems, with self-loathing & massive lack of self-confidence, this is a problem I feel we need to address. My question is, 'what is beauty & what is perfection'? My message is 'we get to decide'. My work is mostly play. Where I do work is in trying to explore the line where beautiful & grotesque, edgy & whimsical, dark & light converge, & answer each other in an honest conversation about perfection. I’m constantly searching in this place, delving into this notion of imperfection as a way of satisfying my curiosity.


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    Houston, TX 77266

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