Karen Fiscus

What clay body do you use?
"I have been using Buff or Buffalo Wallow. I am trying to move from cone 10 to cone 5."


    Primary forming method?

    "I prefer altering clay that has been thrown on the wheel."


    Primary firing temperature?

    "I am now using cone 5-6."


    Favorite surface treatment?

    "I like to carve facets in the surface or add decomposed granite to the clay body that gives the clay a rough surface. I also like to cut and shift the pieces and put them back together with a slab of clay or twisting them into spirals. I call it going beyond round."




    Spiral Vase



    Favorite Tools?

    "I like to make tools. My favorite one is a needle tool made out of coat hanger wire. One of my first teachers when I got out of undergraduate school, Helene Dwyer, showed me how to make them. She was shown by Bernard Leach when she was his intern. "

    Describe your studio environment.

    "I enjoyed working in the UHCL studio and having the creative energy all around when I was working on my Masters Degree. Now I work out of my garage studio and visit the UHCL ceramic studio when I can. It helps that I work in the UHCL Art Gallery installing exhitions."



    White Impressions w/ Black Stain

    Bowl w/ Grog & Dolomite



    Triangle Vase



    How/Where do you market and sell your artwork?

    "I sell my work at the UHCL Art Association Art Sale in November, Upper Bay Frame and Gallery in League City, and at various tent sales."




    Alignment

    What sparks your creativity? What drives you to work with clay?

    "I find working in clay very meditative. When I have a headache, I can go out and throw on the wheel and in a half an hour my headache is gone.

    I also like to take dirt and make it into something beautiful. I have a John Deer T-shirt that says “I make dirt look good”."

    Did you come to ceramics from a different career? Tell us about your journey to a ceramics career.

      "I was Pre-Veterinarian Medicine in undergraduate at Ohio State University. I did not get in, so I finished out my degree with sciences and added ceramic classes. When we moved from Ohio to Delaware, I worked as a research assistant at Hercules Research Center. After moving to Houston, a friend suggested I go meet Nick de Vries at UHCL. I did and I got my Master’s in Ceramics in 2012."


      Vase Cut Light Bulb

      Triple Crescents

      How have you have taken your experience as a well-established maker in the field and passed that knowledge along to other artists?
        "I have taught a few classes at Alvin Community College and help out beginners at the Empty Bowls Bowl-a-thons at UHCL and Alvin Community College."

        Cut Vase

        Portrait Vase

        What’s the best advice you can give to a fellow maker, mentor, or teacher?

          I like to say that throwing on the wheel is the art of holding still. In order to have still hands you need to be still inside your heart.

          I also say that working in clay is learning the art of non-attachment, because you never know when it will fail. The failures make it all the more joyful when something turns out beautiful. It’s all kind of a life lesson; life doesn’t always go the way you planned.



          Bio: 

          I have had a lifelong fascination with clay. I threw my first piece on the wheel in high school. Before that there was hand building in art classes. And, before that we had a bin of the kind of Play Doh that did not dry out, so we could pull it bin out and play with clay any time. There was also digging in the dirt and making mud pies.

            Contact ClayHouston at info@ClayHouston.org

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