Ceramics by Karen Tinney

My background is in home product and furniture design; I attended Parsons School of Design in New York City and worked there designing professionally before relocating to Philadelphia for a new job.

Throughout my schooling and in my spare time, my passion for fiber arts grew and I was always experimenting and learning new skills. When I moved to Philadelphia in 2014, I took a ceramics class which reignited my interest in the medium. It only seemed natural to combine ceramics and fiber arts and I organically started to develop my work into what it is today.

In November of 2016, I left my position as a product designer to pursue my own work full time. Today, my work is focused in two directions – pieces that are designed to be reproducible and are sold at select retailers, and collections of one of a kind pieces which are released periodically and sold through my website. However, even as my business continues to grow, I still produce every piece by hand in my studio in Philadelphia.

The combination of ceramic pieces and woven components is very indicative of my work. The two mediums are totally intertwined for me. I think of the whole piece first, and then let the materials take over – the process determines the end result.

My ceramic practice is done through hand building, meaning I do not use molds or a wheel, so every piece is slightly different and unique. After each ceramic part is fired, I weave all of the pieces by hand using one of a few techniques. My process has many steps and is very laborious but it creates an organic result so that even the items that are not “one of a kind” still have a very special feeling.

I do not particularly worry about being relevant or trendy. I worry about creating pieces that I think are beautiful, and that communicate my own vision. But today with social media and the internet I think it is impossible not to be influenced by current trends. In order to maintain balance – I draw my inspiration from art, architecture, and textures found out in the world. I also draw inspiration from the materials themselves; finding new fibers or being very experimental with clay/glazes is one of my favorite ways to create new work.

Interview with Karen Tinney.

Trends: Experienced Narratives.