Art Craft Design
Traditional Design Meets Modern Function in Natura Ceramica’s Elemental Earthenware Vessels
Harnessing the rich, organic textures of soil, stone, and timber, Ukrainian artists Andriy and Olesya Voznicki of Natura Ceramica create voluminous ceramic vessels and sculptures. Based in Amsterdam, the duo draw inspiration from natural phenomena like the changing seasons, patinas and aging, and elements like fire or earth. The pieces mirror the shapes and textures of boulders or lava rock, suggesting both beauty and resiliency and influenced by a concept called bionic design, which mimics characteristics and adaptations in nature.
While many pieces are presented series—such as Gonta, which often features old oak shingles nestled into cushion-like clay forms—each piece is unique. “The inspiration for the vases comes from both ancient Carpathian architecture and modern bionic design,” reads a statement. “The use of old shingle roofs that have their own history adds a sense of nostalgia and a connection to the past.”
Find more on the Natura Ceramica website and Instagram.
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Ceramic ‘Curiosity Clouds’ by Manifesto Celebrate the Natural World in Functional Organic Forms
The practice of assembling cabinets of curiosities, or Wunderkammers, may date back to the 16th century, but the human impulse to collect, document, study, and learn from our surroundings goes back millennia. Scottish artist Katie Rose Johnston, who works as Manifesto, celebrates the timeless pastime of collecting in her series Curiosity Clouds. Exploring ceramics at the intersection of art and history, she draws inspiration from natural phenomena and blurring the line between form and function.
Johnston was inspired to create the organic forms after a visit to The Hunterian in Glasgow, where she was fascinated by a vitrine tucked away in the rear of the museum. Displaying bird and insect nests from around the world, it included a cross-section of a termite mound featuring an elaborate network of compartments that the insects use for ventilation. “It was a really compelling form that mimicked a set of printer’s drawers in my mother’s home, which were filled with bits and bobs, mudlarked treasures, and our childhood crafts,” she tells Colossal. “The form of the dissected termite mound was really appealing, like a Wunderkammer from an alternate universe.”
The Curiosity Clouds are made using terracotta crank, a type of textured, groggy clay that is often used to make large, durable pots. Johnston forms each piece intuitively rather than relying on sketches, and she enjoys the way the material mimics the earthy, organic, meandering texture of the termite mounds. Always experimenting with different methods, she recently began incorporating materials found in the wild, like a slip coating made from clay gathered from her favorite beach. “It’s unseived to retain the small pebbles and roots which are elemental to the place they were found, and the clay is mica-rich and has a deep, metallic shimmer to the surface,” she says. “It’s rather magical.”
Johnston announces updates to the Manifesto shop every few months, with the next restock scheduled for August. You can find more of her work on her website, and follow updates or learn more about her process on Instagram.
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In a Daily Sewing Project, Karen Turner Stitches a Visual Diary in Vividly Textured Designs
From newspaper paintings and watercolor scenes to narrative photographs and wildly handled mugs, daily projects have continually grabbed our attention for their ritualistic nature, dedication, and ability to strengthen creative stamina. East Yorkshire-based artist Karen Turner has spent the last year in the midst of her own routine involving a long strip of vintage fabric and colorful hand-sewn motifs.
Turner began what’s become her Intuitive Daily Stitching project back in January 2022 when she was hoping to bring more mindfulness into her everyday. The idea was to fill a few inches on a simple, angular grid with whatever motif came to mind, creating a textured patchwork that was also “a visual representation of time passing,” she says. “The older I get, the faster time seems to pass, and I wanted to connect with this sense of time rushing by and consciously to notice a few minutes every day.”
For the 2022 iteration, Turner worked on a single sheet of metis, a cotton-linen blend, stitching undulating stripes, dense crisscrossed lines, and radial designs. Now complete, the piece stretches a staggering 95 inches, highlighting the changes in the artist’s emotions, impulses, and aesthetic sensibilities as the months passed.
In this year’s edition, Turner shifted to a more book-like structure with several pages and a cover to emphasize the diaristic nature of the project. She explains:
I sometimes think stitching is more like writing than drawing, in that you can often identify a stitcher’s work in the same way that you would recognise their handwriting on an envelope. In that way, the stitch journal functions a bit like a diary, though it records more abstract thoughts and feelings rather than events. I think of the cloth and the stitches as witness to this part of my life and holders of a fragment of time.
For those interested in starting their own daily stitching journal, Turner sells her monthly templates and offers an online course on the practice. You can find more about the project on her site and follow updates on Instagram.
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Artist Vanessa Filley Stitches Meditative Cosmic Maps Brimming with Geometry and Symmetries
Vanessa Filley describes a recent body of work as “imagined cosmic map(s),” charts that connect the traditions of fiber arts with the present and the artist’s own questions of finding one’s place in the world. Titled In the Delicate Meshes, the series is comprised of sewn pieces that Filley likens to quilts, with stitches layered into symmetric patchworks of color and texture. “I am interested in the energetic threads that orient and connect us, ground us in place and time, yet tether us to our ancestral past and future—the lines that bring us home,” she says.
Filley references artists like Lenore Tawney, Hilma af Klint, and the women of Gees Bend Quilters, whose practices connect to spirituality, nature, and ancestral histories. Taut threads and twists embody tension and connection between both ends of a stitch, the intricate structures of the works as a whole, and the long tradition of fiber arts. “Each piece in this series is a quilted conversation, a way of taking the disparate questions and feeling of a given moment and mingling them with inspiration from the outside world and the work of those who came before,” the artist says.
In the Delicate Meshes was recently on view at Vivid Art Gallery in Winnetka, and you can find more of the series along with an archive of Filley’s works on her site and Instagram.
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Crystal Tumblers and Decanters Glint in the Sun in Photorealistic Embroideries by Lucy Simpson
Reflecting her interest in drawing and photorealism, Lucy Simpson of Peacocks and Pinecones embroiders the glinting edges of glass and metallic objects in painstaking detail. Each piece is composed by directly observing decorative items like crystal tumblers and decanters, with some of the larger compositions taking upwards of 200 hours to complete. “It’s a slow process, and as a person who isn’t naturally patient, it’s a real endurance test for me,” she says. “I feel a real sense of accomplishment when I finish a piece.”
Simpson’s interest in needlework goes back to childhood and spending time with her grandmother, from whom she learned some basic skills at an early age. Fast forward to around five years ago when the artist had just given birth to her third child, and she took up cross-stitching from patterns as a way to relax. “I had been diagnosed with postnatal depression and anxiety, and my sister bought me my first kit to try and take my mind off things,” she says. “I loved how I had to completely focus on what I was doing, which left no room for intrusive thoughts. After a while, I decided I wanted to stitch my own designs and came across an embroidery style called thread painting and decided to have a go myself.”
First, Simpson began experimenting with rendering metallic objects, enjoying how single strands in a specific color could evoke a realistic depiction of light glinting off of an edge or seam. She spent time honing her craft on subjects like birds and animals because the stitches lent themselves naturally to the lines of fur and feather, but during the pandemic when she was spending extra time at home, she began to yearn for something more difficult.
“I think the biggest challenge using thread to depict glass is stitching the illusion of transparency,” she says. “I love the intricacies of cut glass and the way it distorts the liquid and makes light bounce around.” Typically working on a neutral background, Simpson sometimes incorporates patterns like gingham or polka dots, and she is constantly experimenting with new ways of realistically translating light and color, one stitch at a time.
Simpson occasionally takes commissions, and you can follow Peacocks and Pinecones on Instagram for updates.
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‘Wood You Mind’ Imbues a Charming Cast of Chiseled Characters with Exuberance and Whimsy
A beaming fast-food duo, rotund stegosaurus, and shy alpaca are among the large cast of playful characters crafted by Parn Aniwat (previously). Working out of his studio in Texas, Aniwat, a.k.a Wood You Mind, carefully chisels each figure from wood, slowly but surely unearthing every character’s distinct features. Each personality is brought to life with vivid washes of acrylic paint, detailing endearing faces, sprightly attire, and a whimsical aura.
Aniwat sells the adorable figures on Etsy, and keep an eye on Instagram for news about releases and commission opportunities. Watch small snippets of his process on YouTube.
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Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.