Sharon Ho: Surface Stories

Next weekend, Aug 19-21, come and see what I have been up to in the Felt + Ceramics Studio at 109 North Beach Road, in the heart of Eastsound!  The annual Orcas Island Artists’ Open Studio Tour 2016 is an incredible way to catch up with 29 of the many artists on Orcas Island, and treat yourself to a visual and sensual creative feast.

Meanwhile, here is a sneak peek at my recent work that I am collectively calling ‘Surface Stories‘.  Click the link for more pictures and the full story.  See you soon!

Source: Sharon Ho: Surface Stories

Letting Fall In

“Fall is my favourite time of year!”  I have heard these words declared so many times these past weeks and I cannot agree more.  Especially after such a glorious sun-filled maelstrom of a summer, this Fall’s gentle coming has been sweet.  Fall is my time to breathe, regroup, get back into routine with school, and brace my being for the cold blasts of winter.  As I watched the leaves blow off from my studio window, the weather change is inspiring some coiling work.   Coiling is one of the oldest methods for building pots in history used by people from Native Americans to the Koreans.  For me, that rolling and joining of clay is not only satisfying in a tactile way, but also references the cycle of seasons, life and energy that we are all part of.

Besides new work and jewelry, I have a new collection of greeting cards reflecting Orcas in the mood of the season.  A set of cards tied up in a bow would make a thoughtful house gift, I think.  I’ll post some of the card images in my next post soon, but stop by when you are in Eastsound.  Call me first, if you like at 360-220 8221.

Maelstrom. Coiled dark and white stoneware bodies, iron oxide wash, glazes, fired to cone 6. Mounted on driftwood (optional), 18″ across.

Work in progress. Cassius black clay vessel.

Work in progress. Cassius black clay glaze.

Summer plates


Long, late, evenings outside in other people’s gardens, shared platters of salads and fresh berries, watching the last sunlight trail on the flat water,  cool mountain hikes as that favorite birdcall echoes in the gathering dusk, kids on the grass until the stars come out.  I was thinking about how to safekeep these beautiful summer moments and how to keep them fresh,  so, when I looked over these shots I took of my new work, I realised – this being the seventh summer I’ve enjoyed on Orcas – I may have already stored them in the plates I just made.

Handbuilt porcelain dish, 18" long
Handbuilt porcelain dish, 18″ long
Handbuilt dish in cassius clay.  19" long.  Food safe.
Handbuilt dish in cassius clay. 19″ long. Food safe.

Spring shore

The Sea Is Blue vessel (one of 3)
The Sea Is Blue vessel (one of 3)

Spring had sprung when I looked up from my pinched pots; the hills and shores are alive.   Millie, my mother-in-law a.k.a personal florist, brought me this beautiful bouquet picked this morning from her garden and I knew exactly which vase it should sit in.

Petite clam dishes with carved detail, oxide washes
Petite clam dishes with carved detail, oxide washes

Spring is here on Orcas Island and the pace in my studio has been fevered.  I have been working on a new flock of birds that are awaiting their first firing and jewelry for the studio mixed media/ceramic line.  One project I am really excited about is a small-batch collection of tableware for a local retailer to be launched this summer.  Sneak preview soon, maybe 😉

And, very special thanks goes out to Outlook Inn on Orcas Island for featuring our very large mixed media wall piece, Collaboration I, by Christa Smith and I, in their restaurant, New Leaf Cafe – the must-do dining spot on my Orcas list for visiting family and friends.  Heading out for a walk in the spring sun now, see you on the shore!

At the hostess table, New Leaf Restaurant, Orcas Island
At the hostess table, New Leaf Restaurant, Orcas Island

Baskets of good intent

Baskets in the studio window - porcelain, food-safe
Baskets in the studio window – porcelain, food-safe

Baskets for bag ladies - in shop window
Baskets for bag ladies – in shop window

I still say Happy New Year to people at this time of January to stoke a little of that fire of good intent that, I believe, most of us begin every new year with, even those among you who have sworn off resolutions.  In the shop, the front table and the window display has been refreshed. I’ve started on a series of black clay vessels and a line of photo cards I’ve been working on are in print as I write this.  Come visit soon and wish me a happy New Year in return.

To a new year of beach walks

Fall Tableau

The mud smells dark and rich; the bird call is frenzied; the wet leaves and twigs glow like embers in the fast fallen dusk. Hello Fall.  My favourite time of year is digging in and the palette of the season is a personal refresher for where my aesthetic choices are mostly rooted.

Taking stock of the body of work I showed at this past summer’s Artists Open Studio Tour on Orcas Island, it felt good to discover an aesthetic consistency running through my ceramic work.  The forest floor, ocean find and woodland imagery are repeatedly used, and so are the organic textures and my tendency to leave or reveal the natural colour of the clay body.  The show was really the first time I had all my recent work displayed together and it was gratifying to see how the individual pieces, whether functional, wearable or wall art, could come together to form a cohesive tableau.

Participation in the Studio tour provided the motivation for me to finally write an Artist’s Bio, and to explore various ways to display work, label displays, create visual flow, and other nitty gritty aspects of putting up a show that is not always a top priority because it takes precious time away from making stuff!  However, the best thing for me over the three-day tour was getting practice in talking about my art to absolute strangers.  Many thanks to Sharon Schmidt who hung out with me on opening day! Just hearing her introduce my work to guests helped me experience how a gallery visitor would encounter my creations for the first time.  I realised how basic and crucial a skill it is for any artist to be able to talk comfortably about her own work, and, at a level that resonates with the viewer.  I have been a docent many years and led many a gallery tour, but talking up my own work is an ongoing challenge.  I know it comes with practice and I am working on it.

Come in soon and I’ll work my spiel on you!

Sweet turtles

These turtle dishes put a smile on my face, and I hope it brings a smile to you too.  Maybe it is the colour in bloom all around me that’s inspired me to explore tones that are not in my usual glaze selections.  Fun to be out on a limb and hanging on for a bit.  Enjoy the sunshine everyone!

Sweet turtle tapas dishes in a clear glaze over carribean blue and rubbed salmon coloured stain.
Sweet turtle tapas dishes in a clear glaze over carribean blue and rubbed salmon coloured stain.

Rim detail

Oval dish

Ready for first firing
Ready for first firing

Thank you friends!

We had a wonderful, well attended opening party two Fridays ago.  A big Thank You to all of you who came by, and also to all of you who sent hugs and well wishes from afar.  It was a buzz to have so many people in the studio all at once, after all the nerves Christa and I had building up inside as the hour approached.  Not too much wine was spilled, so that was good too 😉   Cheers!

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