Thursday, September 10, 2009

Body Language

Here is the piece I dropped off at Teal Gallery for the show "Body Language," which opened August 29 and runs through September 27. The base is 13 x 13, and he sits 21" tall. Glazed ceramics/mixed media. It's hard to see in this small photo, but the figure's right shoulder has 15-20 post-surgical-like stitches. Here is my statement that accompanies it:


This piece addresses the aftermath of an injury from a long fall. The awkward intrusion of science that effectively and pragmatically fixes the injury are in violent contrast to the unaddressed emotional pain. The two-dimensional shells of hands are ineffectual to help. The
body seems put together like “normal” but something is askew.

Transcendence has a peaceful face and a relaxed stance, and the fissured base marks the emergence of a hopeful future pushing through.

The opening was really fun (and delicious!) and I saw a lot of friendly faces. Stephanie, the owner of Teal, says there were 120 guests. Syma flew in from New York to represent her work, and after the show we enjoyed drinks and munchies with Lisa Rivard and other friends.
It's a lovely space and I'm happy it's here in Breckenridge. Stephanie will celebrate her gallery's one-year anniversary in December.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

What a jam-packed week of excitement and adventure! I have neglected my studio work, instead focusing on cleaning house, venturing outside (which is good, because summer is fading quickly), and trying to organize.

At the end of last week, I visited my good friend Lisa Kohlhepp in a whirlwind visit to Anderson Ranch - I miss her already! I need to go back! On Saturday, Piers and I dressed up for a lovely show at the Breck Theater Gallery for work by another of my wonderful friends, Jenn Cram, who runs the Breckenridge Arts District, and also Michelle Woods, who teaches at Colorado Mountain College.

Sometime on Sunday, the junko eggs hatched, and we welcomed three tiny, hungry aliens into the world. They're awkward and hilarious, fuzz shooting from their heads like strange dinosaurs. They cheep their heads off until the moment Flip opens her beak slightly - and they fall silent. Such well-behaved children! What parent can enjoy that kind of result with a child in mid-tantrum at the grocery store?!?

Piers changed the lens on his Nikon and captured some amazing family moments. I was shocked he was allowed to approach. Remember, their nest is on the ground, right against the house. It's impossible to creep up inconspicuously; inevitably, you only loom monstrously over the fragile nest.

The little ones are like miniature vases with their wide open yellow beaks and their necks craned upward, pink throats gulping sunlight, bodies gracefully... Yikes, this isn't graceful! A tasty insect: Down the hatch, mama!

Such a tender moment between mama and baby reminds me of even more exciting news: my sister is pregnant! Soon I'll get to change my name to Auntie Iris.

On Tuesday, I drove to a noborigama kiln located between Alma and Fairplay, built in the '70s by Mark Zamantakis. Fellow potter Chris Hosbach and I were to patch the kiln and investigate whether or not there were enough shelves and furniture available so that we (and many others) can do a firing next June. Yes, there were plenty of each, so we mixed up some adobe, and filled in the many cracks. The kiln has not been fired for 10 years, but is in great shape!

I'm standing a the very back, by the chimney, at the highest point of the kiln. There are three chambers for pots, plus a firebox in the front where we stoke the fire. Each chamber is higher than the one before, so the fire climbs up through the kiln and out the chimney. This baby will hold a lot of pots! In college, our wood kiln held about 100 pots, I'm guessing. This noborigama will hold many, many more. Anyone have wood they'd like to donate? We'll need to dry out and chop 5 cords of wood.

Maybe you're wondering about a photo I posted a couple of weeks ago, with my car filled with straw and a wheelbarrow strapped to the top of the car. Yes, that was in preparation for this very excursion - except sometimes plans change unexpectedly... This was the "third time's the charm" attempt, and fortunately, all went well. We were prepared with bug spray, saw nary a mosquito, and the weather was impeccable! Let's just hope the adobe doesn't flake off.

Yesterday, I participated in a life drawing class with Lisa Rivard. I've never sketched a live model before! We started with several 30-second poses, moved to 1-minute poses, then 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and finally 30 minutes. I really enjoyed the brevity of the beginning poses because it shook me out of my usual take-a-long-time-to-draw-that mode. Truly, I've never worked so quickly!

Here are two sketches I'm pleased with: the first was a 10-minute pose, and the second, a 30-minute. It was interesting which poses were harder to complete in the time given; the 15 minute pose flew by before I finished sketching her entire body, but I finished the 30 minute pose in 20 or so. I have a lot of fun ahead of me and I can't wait for the next class!

I hope to have more clay pieces to show soon. Back to work!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

1-2-3, Pitcher!

I haven't done a lot of coiling recently, and I want to do another piece with Piers, so this weekend I built a large pitcher form and decorated it with leaf images. The model plant I used is featured in my July 11th post, sweetly creeping around Syma's bottomless vessel. I love plants with such rich, luminous foliage. So far, I have not decided how I want to glaze this piece. That can wait for a while...

On the left, I'm finishing the last major coil. This piece has 12 or 13 coils - I add a moderate amount of clay each time and pinch it upward, adding 1 1/2"-2" in height. Then I make small alterations to the profile. I don't use a potter's wheel or banding wheel to create the shape, as you see in the picture. The piece sits on a bat and I eyeball the evenness of the sides as I walk around the piece or reposition the bat. What I like about a large, symmetrical piece - balance and calm, significant but gentle interaction with its environment, and quiet containment of a large space - I try to translate into softly asymmetrical shapes. Since I keep the rough texture my fingers create while I pinch, the shape will never be "exact" (as it could be if the walls were smooth). Working on a stationary bat, I am less quick to "correct" every wayward angle and the shape becomes more suggested than precise.

Here I am defiantly pajama'd (because I can, if you ask why) working in the living room, finishing the leaves on the pitcher. I pretended this was a plein air excursion - visiting a plant in its "native" environment (ie, sunny windowsill). I'm usually not supposed to cart my clay around the house because I leave little shavings everywhere!

The vases in the corner are pit fired from earlier this year. (Click here to see them unfired.) The philodendron behind my head is a gift from Lisa Kohlhepp, who clipped it from a plant at the Breckenridge Brewery and rooted it for me a few years ago. The image of his first set of leaves is on another large pot I made, and it sits outside year-round, soaking up sunshine and moisture, just like the plant. These are the mature leaves - last year, I accidentally left him in my windowless kiln shed for a week and I thought I'd killed him! Piers chopped off all the leaves (the brown sadness that was left), and two weeks later these three giants emerged. This is also the plant with 3' aerial roots exploring our living room, inspiring me to make the wall piece Aerial Roots.

Here is a close-up of the leaves. Click it for a bigger picture, and you can see the leaves more easily. Now that I've finished forming and carving, I'll let the piece dry. Next is the firing and glazing stage, and then I'll turn it over to Piers to carve and attach a handle. Easy as 1-2-3!

A New Face

We adore the animals and plants around us. Well, not the mice (Iris) or spiders (Piers)! Outside, there are two foxes who we've seen on a regular basis - Ferdinand has been visiting for three or four years, and this is Linden's first year. She likes to sun herself to sleep in the juniper bush by our driveway. Vladimir, our dog, barks and whines at her, but she knows he can't get off the deck to chase her (but would they make beautiful, fluffy babies? I know Piers wishes they could get to know each other better) and I think she likes having a "big brother" around while she snoozes to warn her of other animals approaching.

Piers kept three empty 5-gallon chinking buckets next to the house for a few weeks. Recently, he moved them to the back of the garage with the rest of the buckets. A tiny junko bird kept squawking at him, and he finally found her nest on the ground, sheltered by a dandelion leaf. This mama seemed really miffed at Piers, and we avoided her "territory" next to the driveway, beside the steps up to the deck (and the front door). She's so diminutive and angry that Piers has named her... (be warned, this is awful!) ....Flip. You know, Flip The Bird. Groan...

Yesterday evening, I was standing on the deck talking to Piers as he unloaded his car. Suddenly, Flip flew in. She looked all around, hopping this way and that, making sure "no one" was around to follow her to the nest, and quickly scuttled into the plants. Piers and I each stood only three feet from her. Apparently we no longer pose a threat.

It was particularly sunny yesterday, and she pushed away her dandelion roof. Here we have At Home with Flip. This morning, she pulled the leaf over her nest again, and it is nearly invisible. Piers reassures me that Linden will not discover the tasty eggs inside.

This afternoon, I'm going to patch up a naborigama kiln near Fairplay with some fellow clay folk. Chris is bringing adobe ingredients, and I'm supplying straw, water, a saw, and a wheelbarrow. The straw bale is really long, so the wheelbarrow had to be strapped to the top of my car. See the straw poking out the back?

The window in this picture looks into my studio. Flip's nest is just to the right of my back bumper, against the house. When I look out my studio window, I see an assortment of wood Piers keeps outside, behind the garage. I have a very small friend who hangs around there, and I named her Bernadette the Bunny. Piers is appalled at my choice - "What kind of name is Bernadette? What about Tiger, or Oprah, or Ellen Johnson Sirleaf?" Oh well, he'll name our next friend.

Monday, July 20, 2009

2nd Place

The reception for Summer on the Summit at Arts Alive was an enjoyable evening. This wall piece, Aerial Roots, won 2nd place - hooray! It was intended to be hung on nails on a wall. Fortunately, s-hooks on a mesh screen work as well, although the top really rotates forward without the wall support.

Study in Textiles I & II.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Helpful people and forward momentum

I've been working on tumblers and plates for Magical Scraps, a fabulous Boutique & Studio on Main Street in Breckenridge. These pieces are a joy to make, since they involve stamps and lively colors. Unfortunately, I haven't stepped foot in my studio today. I'm working on administrative details instead: my logo and website.

James at Summit Creations turned my Sharpie logo drawing into the real thing when I opened Wild Iris Studio & Gallery (I'm proud to be listed as a client at Now we need to alter it to Wild Iris Productions LLC and make new business cards. I love imagining designs and playing with fonts and colors! My best friend Eric experiments with ideas and layouts on Photoshop. I don't know what I'd do without his encouragement, or without James for the professional end product.

I'm working with my longtime friend Nate Zander at Mountain Porcupine Design for my website. We finished a design for the gallery, but were only halfway through the legwork when I decided to close up shop, and now it's a relief to alter the format for what I want to do now, rather than starting from scratch again. I've sent off some ideas to Nate, and I hope the site will be ready to launch before September. Details to follow.

Finally, I emailed my friend Syma some photos I took of her work while she was a guest artist in the Arts District of Breckenridge. (See her blog for mountain photos of the Arts District.) She will have some of her works on display at Teal Gallery in late August, which means she'll come back for a visit! I find her enthusiasm inspiring, and it reminds me that I'm an optimist as well, when I forget.

I have a small Bottomless Vessel to Hold Change that she made last spring during another residency in Breckenridge. It is soothing to me, a gentle reminder to laugh off frustration about life in flux; if I know change is constant and inevitable, don't I see it coming? Don't I expect it to happen again?

A year ago, Piers and I were working hard on the gallery. It is remarkable how far we've come since then. The helpful and supportive people we have encountered along the way have helped transform our life. We work just as hard as we did then, but are becoming more peaceful and calm. Thanks to all who read this blog - and stay with us for exciting things to come!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summer is here at last!

The weather through mid-June had been rainy and cool: gorgeous mist but not good for bare arms. Even last night, watching fireworks, I wore a sweater and Piers wore his winter coat! Finally, though, the days are becoming sunny and warmer. I love lazy summertime naps outside! A week ago, Piers and I visited Salida for the annual Art Walk and enjoyed the hot, hot weather - now I want more! We toured several lovely galleries, and I have some inspiration for new pieces. It was nice to get away from some of Breckenridge's "tourist shots" - saleable landscape/wildflower scenes. Don't misunderstand me, I love the gorgeous landscape here; it's the countless paintings and photographs depicting classic mining and mountain scenes that lose my attention.

Yesterday afternoon, Piers and I drove to his favorite fishing spot a mile or so down the road. I worked on a new clay piece, sitting on my sweatshirt by the stream - how I love the sound of rushing water - while Piers wandered along the shore hoping for a bite. His hook has no barbs, so he immediately releases the fish. If the fish looks like it's hurt, he brings it home and pan fries it for a tasty snack!

This photo is from last weekend, at Meet the Artists - open to artists in the Summit County Arts Council. I was present on sunny Saturday, but Sunday brought an afternoon flat tire, and I changed plans.

This week I hung a wall piece in a small juried show at Arts Alive in Breckenridge. The opening is Saturday, July 11. I posted photos of the wall piece ("Aerial Shoots") in an April post. You'll see it as greenware - next week I'll post photos of the finished work. I'm also showing two button pieces that I like a lot.

I've been pursuing two directions in my hand-built pit fired pieces: one is inspired by plants, and the other by textiles (with buttons). I started my first button piece in the beginning of 2008, and Piers constructed a handle and a base for it sometime this past winter. (Maybe that's why I like Holly Stein's jewelry so much - she uses vintage and antique buttons!) I'll post pictures of both styles as I complete the pieces.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Weekend Wedding!

This weekend Piers and I were in Bloomington, Indiana, to celebrate the wedding of my wonderful sister. I'd forgotten how uncomfortably muggy the weather is there. We left a snowy Colorado behind so the warm weather was welcome, but the humidity was nearly unbearable. What a great wedding, though! Piers did the photography and I danced the night away.

For everyone who loved my necklace, please check out Holly's website to see all her gorgeous creations. Also, here's a link for the woman in Breckenridge who made my handbag - check out a newer style.

The past few weeks I have been consumed with moving - out of the gallery and into my studio. I had to make a curtain for the loft at the gallery, so of course I made a pillow next, and had to remind myself to stay on track. (Anyone remember the book, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie?) I made three teapots and a pitcher last week, and since it snowed/rained all weekend, they're not even dry yet. I'm off to the studio for some last-minute smoothing now...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Prepping the Studio

We've been moving the house around to accommodate the new studio. Piers set up his office upstairs; here we are about to eat dinner on his desk:

Piers took some action shots of me painting:

We had some great news today: Instead of it taking another 3-4 weeks to get our beetle kill flooring, it'll be ready to be picked up tomorrow! Piers might be able to get to it this weekend, and then I'll move my studio in next week. I'm holding off on moving my kiln - maybe by the end of this month. It's more of a convenience than a necessity to bring it home, so I'll probably wait until June.
All of the changes have been very exciting!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Look Back

Today I was going to upload pictures of my new "studio" but Piers took his camera with him (the nerve!) so instead I have a couple thoughts to share about the gallery. We're closing next week - Saturday, May 2 will be a Closing Celebration with wine and snacks. After that, my brother-in-law (photographer Jesse Peterson) will be moving in for a few months, and I'm putting the house on the market.

Piers and I opened the gallery last July, and it's been really rewarding. I proved to myself I didn't need a lot of money to do it, but the work and time commitment were intense! I'm ready to welcome a change in pace. Don't forget I have a day job - although beginning next week, I'm going down to a four-day work week. More time for art, hooray!

One of the principal reasons for closing the gallery is that I want to focus on my own work. After going to Phoenix, AZ for NCECA a few weeks ago (clay conference), I started feeling much more positive about this major change. I have a lot of good ideas I want to work on! My studio space is a bedroom on the main floor of our house. It's near the kitchen, the laundry room, and far from our bedroom (upstairs), so I have easy access to food and clean clothes, without worrying about any clay dust where we sleep. Progress pictures will come soon.

Here I have photos of the first two pieces Piers and I made together - I pit fire handbuilt forms, and then Piers carves, stains, and attaches bristlecone pine pieces he finds near our house. These are shots of the pieces in the gallery (stairs and shelves built by Piers). I recommend clicking on the photos for a more detailed view. (The smaller piece on the right has beautiful texture. Can you see the rock the root trapped?)

Pitcher 24" tall; "Earthbound" 13" tall

All my artists were a joy to work with: Chaz della Porta, Jenn Cram, Holly Stein, Nate Zander, Cooper Walsh, Kerry Feldman, Lisa Rivard, Lisa Kohlhepp, and Rick Karden. I will enjoy visiting with them when I return their work after the closing, but it's bittersweet to move forward without their beautiful art around me.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Building a Vase

Here I am working on a larger piece. I finished it last week, and am drying it slowly.

Smoothing the inside:

Shaping the sides:

Making small adjustments to the sides:

Finishing the rim:

Fast forward............ 23 1/2" (max height my kiln allows).

Before shots

Here's some of the work I've done since January:
I finally bisqued this piece in March. It was such fun to build! For those of you who have never met him, this is Piers (with an Asian flair) in his fleece, pants, and boots. He's about 22" high.

I also have some pieces to pit fire:
These are all about 11" long. The one with roots is a wall piece. You can see that one of the roots sticks out (when the piece is on the wall, it will point downward, while the other roots point toward the wall).

After taking the pictures, I painted the pieces with terra sig and bisqued them at a low temperature (around cone 010).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Back in action

I think it snowed a foot and a half in Breckenridge today. I'm at home now, enjoying the warm fire beside a freshly-brushed dog and my sleepy husband. It's been quite a while since the last post, and a lot has changed since then. We're excited to share more regular updates - this weekend I'll post new pictures of recent work from us both.
In a nutshell: February 17th was my birthday - hooray! - then in March, Piers and I enjoyed a ski day in Vail with my uncle, and last weekend I was in Phoenix, AZ at the NCECA conference. (National Council of Education in the Ceramic Arts.) Day jobs aside, we've been artsying up a storm: Piers is nearly 3/4 done with his novel and built a small storage cabinet for my "clutter," and I've made pieces for upcoming pit and wood firings. Last Saturday I was in Lakewood with Sumi von Dassow for the first pit firing of the season. I saw some familiar faces, and am inspired to make more work for the next firing, May 9.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Love Series

Piers and I didn't have much time off to get married, and we didn't take a honeymoon. Piers's shoulder injury took up most of our attention, as well as getting back to work. So I decided to do a series of vases to illustrate some of the sweet texts Piers sends me. I wrote Piers a real love letter once, but otherwise we send each other thoughtful messages and haiku via cell phone. Here are the first three vases, titled "Reverie," "Endless," and "Love Letter." These are in their unfired state, 11"-14" high. I'm still thinking about glazes.

It is sunny, rainy and beautiful, and reminded me of you
How do I love thee/Let me count the ways

Love Letter
Front text: Sitting among my papers/Sitting like/a madman among my papers/coffee and papers/papers
Back text: My god - and thinking of you!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Here we are!

Hello and welcome to our blog! Piers and Iris Peterson are sharing a space to post thoughts and progress on the art we create individually and together.

Please visit Iris's gallery at, to check out photos of our work.

Iris: I am a ceramic artist, working on and off the wheel. My pottery is functional: mugs, bowls, teapots, and the like. Sometimes I leave the shape very simple; other times, I carve most of the surface. I enjoy how the fast pace of throwing complements the thoughtful patience of hand building. I use thick coils to build large shapes, most recently incorporating text and human imagery.

Piers: I look for artistic forms in nature and try to incorporate them into everyday living. Most often, this is in the form of furniture or ceramic/wood fusion in union with Iris's mudwork. I am staining our new dining room table, and just finished our latest collaborative piece last week.