A couple of years ago I was at a casual dinner at a friend’s house, and she explained that”a trendy pottery chick out of Asheville” was coming to join us. When Heather Knight came, I liked her instantly. I asked her when she’s had an Etsy shop, and she showed me her job in an iPhone. Blown from the tiniest of thumbnails, I made a beeline for her studio the following day, along with my addiction for her beautiful work has continued ever since. It’s been a joy to see her career take off, including media from attributes on Etsy to an appearance on The Nate Berkus Show.
Here is a glance at what motivates her, her work, and the special way she’s set her up and new showroom, Element Clay Studio.
Knight at a sea of her ceramic anemone bowls.
Textured Wall Tiles, Set of 9 – $3,390
Knight’s passion for pottery started at age 14. The first piece she fired up at a kiln was coil pot. “It was love at first bud!” she exclaims. She’s come a long way since then, working as an artist full time. (Let’s be fair: It takes many more hours than a typical full-time week to run your own creative enterprise.)
That is a pair of Element Clay Studio’s miniature tiles, a number of her most well-known pieces. Hung on a wall, put on a table or put up in a grid, these textured pieces pack a exceptional design punch.
Knight’s inspiration planks are a few of the best I have ever seen. “My inspiration comes from a mix interior design, fashion, nature, architecture, art history and my creativity,” she states.
“When I get stuck I do many things — go looking for inspiration at antique stores, at the nursery, at the hardware store,” she states. “I go on a hike or pick during my inspiration bowls. I have bowls all over the studio full of objects I pick up: shells, pods, leaves.
This is just one of Knight’s inspiration dishes. She made the true bowl, naturally!
Other objects that inspire her, like milkweed, are tucked around her studio also.
Barnacle Wall Tile – $395
“My building procedure is pretty low tech and labor intensive,” Knight explains. “I make everything by hand, possibly using a slab, pinch pot or thrown form, then apply textures while the job is moist, forming every individual slice with my fingers and the inclusion of small tools. There is no other way to make the more intricate items, which to me makes every one precious.”
Micro Wall Tiles, Set of 3 – $355
Knight’s tiles are unique and intricate. “I was looking for a way to experiment with feel in a simple manner, and tiles matched this idea absolutely,” she states. “I wished to create as many different textures as possible, and I am still working on that job 4 1/2 decades later!”
Urchin Bowl – $58
Knight glazes only the inside of her bowls. “The ceramic is so beautiful on its own; the whole premise of this entire body of work for me personally was to call attention to the surface with feel and little else. I think less is more,” she states.
Scallop Bowls – Nesting Set of 3 – $172
These scallop bowls can hide their interior colour when placed upside down, or show off it when they’re put right-side up. The glaze will pool at the very base of the bowl, improving thickness.
Chestnut Bowl – $65
This one can stand up on its own, displaying its interior glaze. It can also be placed flat with its spiny rear in the air, or face up, with its glazed interior on display from above.
Now, to where the magic happens. A tidy, modern and efficient workspace is important to Knight’s work. “My work space is light, airy and very organized. I have moved my workspace a lot and am a big fan of efficiency, so I pretty much have my job flow down to a science,” she states.
“There is nothing unnecessary in my workout room. I have my desk area with a significant inspiration board and office materials, a photography area, and the remainder is for creating clay work. The’blank’ room is where my assistant works; we have a packaging and shipping area and also her desk space, as well as space for inventory and my showroom.”
Knight’s studio is located in Asheville, North Carolina. It is”a small town that’s full of creative people,” she states. “It is sort of utopian, indeed. We live in a bubble . The surroundings are beautiful — in 10 minutes you can be out in the mountains hiking to a waterfall. The Caribbean region is Art Deco and amazing, the people are friendly and tolerant, the weather is perfect, and there are very strong community values. We support local here; there is even a campaign,’Local is the new black,’ encouraging independent small company in our city.”
“I love using a showroom,” she states. “My soon-to-be husband and I are both really into design and have started a small vintage accessories and furniture company. I can combine my passions and reveal my retail clients what my work looks like in a home setting. It is also a lot of pleasure to rearrange and get motivated!”
This region of the showroom shows her off tiles against the bright yellow wall, and more of her pieces in the cocktail table.
“When I moved my studio to the Asheville’s River Arts District I became a part of something bigger than myself. I was constantly in a stand alone studio earlier and I was lonely; today I see countless people every day who are doing precisely the identical thing, and we are all working toward growing our audience. If I need assistance with some thing, to collaborate or maybe just need to complain over a beer after a really long day, then I only need to walk several feet before all that can be cared for! There are artists in this neighborhood that are specialists in every medium.”
“Neighbors pop up to get a beer, men plop down on the sofa while their wives shop. . .it’s so comfortable men and women ask me when I live here all the time,” she states.
Her advice for others contemplating creating a showroom:”I think that it is very important to present yourself well in the professional world. You won’t ever find my studio and showroom cluttered. I can’t tell you just how many members of people have commented that I have the cleanest studio at the district. I enjoy that, I need people to take me seriously, and the polish is part of the. 1 thing I heard from The Nate Berkus Show was that you’re selling a lifestyle, and mine is represented in the showroom.”
Element Clay Studio Photos
Knight is a superb example of the way the environment can inspire imagination, from her studio to the greater arts district to the gorgeous area around Asheville.
“I need to be moving ahead, and for me personally, that means doing a few different things — classic furniture, interiors and setups are on my radar. My career so far has just evolved and grown naturally, therefore I plan on just letting things go in that way. My main collaborator at this time is my husband, but I am hoping to combine talents with a few regional artists in the upcoming year to accomplish some bigger jobs.”
It is going to be interesting to find out where her career takes her second.
Writer: The Wonderful World of Thomas Wold
Interview: Ceramic Art Goes Vertical
Etsy Designers at Home: VisuaLingual