Janice Jakielski

Birds and Clouds: Keeping the Winter Blues at Bay

Posted January 23rd, 2011

I’m in winter survival mode, everything that is reported, said, written, all of the mythical stories about winter in New England, I can tell you that it is completely true, every last word. Even the beagle won’t go outside. Tired of begging and pleading, I’ve begun throwing treats out the back door in hopes of enticing her to leave the house, a maneuver that I’m sad to report has only about a 40% success rate.

With the addition of six more inches of snow last Friday I decided to take some time to bake for a few of my favorite pots. Joshua and I have a cup collection we try to add a few each year and replace the ones broken by the pets (recent casualties: Jeremy Kane, Jen Allen and Sarah Jaeger…it’s been a rough year for pottery in our household). After seeing this post over at Not Martha I’ve been mulling over the idea of creating a set of perched cookies for some of my resident cups/yunomis/mugs.


We rotate through our favorite cups but the front-runners for the last month or so are the works of Steven Colby and Emily Schroeder.  Cups of contradiction at first glance, one dark the other light, terracotta vs. porcelain, hand-built opposite wheel- thrown.  But for all of the contradictions there are similarities, a perfectly balanced weight, carefully considered surface and most importantly each of these cups is infused with the absolutely inimitable character of the maker.

Unknown to me, Steven, Emily and I were students at Alfred University at the same time, it wasn’t until years later that our paths re-crossed.  Steven during my time at the Carbondale Clay Center and Emily a year later while pursuing my MFA at the University of Colorado, Boulder.


After years of successfully maintaining a studio practice in Carbondale, Colorado Steven is currently a graduate student at Penn State School of Visual Arts.  His carefully thrown pots of humble earthenware are adorned with layer upon layer of painted slips, creating motifs from the simple to the delightfully complex.   Imbued with generosity the pieces reveal themselves, bit by bit over time as they are subsumed into daily routines.



The evidence of the hand in Emily’s work acts in much the same manner.  The intimacy of the cup, an intimate object to begin with, is heightened through the mark making left by the artist’s fingertips.  Each unique pinch and release of the makers hand is preserved, a particular moment in time captured.  In this way her pots seem to breath.   Her surfaces are conceived with sensitivity to the forms  they enrich.  Emily recently taught at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Canada.  She is currently the new Director of Artist Programs at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago.



To see more of Steven Colby’s work please visit: http://stevencolby.wordpress.com/

For more information about Emily Schroeder: http://www.emilyschroeder.com/index.html

This site has tons of useful information about decorating with royal icing: http://sweetopia.net/

All images and site content © Janice Jakielski, 2010; all rights reserved.