searching for shapes
searching for shapes

Not many kinds of craft reflect the process and progress of an artist as much as ceramics does. Soft clay turns the imperfections into beautiful details and results are often surprising. Through her work, Karolina not only continues to discover her self but also finds a way back home.

Where are you from? Do your origins affect your work?

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and I have a Slovak mother and a Czech father, so I grew up speaking English, Czech and Slovak. I always felt out of place in Cleveland and never saw my future there. I moved to Prague 5 years ago (my father is from Prague and I wanted to “try it out”), but I visited Považská Bystrica, Slovakia, every other summer to see my mother’s family. I have many good memories there, where I ran around the village picking flowers, wild strawberries and fresh eggs. Travelling quite a bit and growing up in America affects my personality by the fact that I am very open to new ideas and concepts. Being open to finding what I am passionate about led me to ceramics. I studied Fashion Merchandising for my bachelor’s degree in America, and I think that influenced me in liking visually appealing pieces that are also functional.

How did you get into ceramics? What was your first impulse?

I took some ceramics classes when I was really young, but that’s about it. I think a few years ago I had an impulse to find a ceramics class. I don’t know where it came from. I eagerly searched online and asked friends if they knew about a private teacher in Prague. I was lucky to find a very good studio with a great teacher who throws on the wheel. I started going there in January 2019 and fell in love with the material and the entire process. I also applied to the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague for the Porcelain and Ceramics studio led by Maxim Velcovsky and Milan Pekar. I’ve been recently accepted and will start studying there for another bachelor’s degree in September 2020. I am looking forward to experimenting and trying out different techniques.

What do you like best about this material?

I really like working with my hands. The consistency of wet clay between my fingers excites me. I also like that I don’t have to look at a computer screen during most of the creative ceramic process. It’s an unbelievable feeling to create something that can be used daily. I think what I like best about it all is the whole process and progress over time. Sometimes I fail one day, and the next day I manage to do exactly what I’ve been learning/preparing for for a long time. The end result can be a pleasant surprise, like a beautiful glaze firing. Sometimes it turns out badly, but it’s like life. Process, trial and error, progress.. It’s also really interesting to see how I’ve changed my style and designs over the last year and a half. Unconsciously, an artist changes his or her style over time when doing what he or she loves best.

What are your inspirations?

I currently love working with black clay because I think it looks very elegant and mysterious. I mainly throw plates, bowls and cups. I’m inspired by Japanese design, even though my work doesn’t completely reflect it traditionally. My dream is to go study in Japan, specifically Kyoto, where I hope to learn more about traditional Japanese design. I’m terribly focused on the details. For example, I was obsessed in finding the “perfect” shape of a bowl. I threw bowls for about four months straight and found out after the 30th+ bowl what shape I like the most. I do it all by hand without any plaster forms. I enjoy focusing on each step and seeing it all move in some direction on its own. I just started doing my first custom orders on dining sets, and I am just now working on marketing it to the online world. Promoting and marketing are an entire different story that I am constantly learning about.

What does your working day look like?

I usually go to the studio in the evening, and my working day is always different since there are so many parts to the process. Either I’m throwing new pieces, or I have something at the studio that has already been dried to a leather-hard consistency that needs trimming. Or I have some pieces bisque fired (first firing), so I have to wipe them off with a sponge and glaze them. Or I have the exciting step where my pieces were fired for a second time (glaze firing) and I look at it all critically. This step feels like Christmas. Sometimes you love the presents you get. Sometimes they’re so-so. But that’s the whole process of everything. Then there are so many small steps that are necessary, like recycling clay or getting into long discussions with someone at the studio. I have an hour-long private lesson with my teacher every other week. I really enjoy that too. Posting on Instagram or updating my site are also part of the “working day.”

You are soon going to study ceramics at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, how would you like to create in the future?

I’m looking forward to it because I’ll learn so many new techniques and I’ll be able to work with porcelain. I hope to do more conceptual projects and sculptures. I’m quite obsessed and focused on wheel throwing, which is actually just one one of the many methods when it comes to the medium. There are so many different processes that I am still unfamiliar with, and I am confident I’ll learn so much at school. I hope to study abroad at least twice (even more if I can). My dream is to go to Kyoto, Japan, but I also want to study somewhere in Europe. I am excited for all the theoretical history art classes too. Not knowing how to read or write perfectly in Slovak/Czech will be a bit challenging to study in, but I hope to strengthen my language skills as well.

Foto: Joanna Joy, Karolína Kučerová
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