Who is a Black Brown Indigenous Melanated Person (BBIMP) who has inspired you or your work?
A source of inspiration for me is not a singular person but the many cultures found in the Philippines. As a way to reconile myself with my mixed and colonized heritage, I am trying to learn more about the traditional pottery and fiber arts of different provinces.
How do you find inspiration?
I find my inspiration through art and history. I studied art history and am also a lover of myths and legends. I love imbuing the pieces I create with nods to certain pieces of art or a favorite myth.
Share your maker journey. How did it all begin for you?
I’ve always been “the artistic one” in my extended family, but my journey into launching Pine Cone Ceramics + Crafts began as a domino effect of working close to a garden center and slowly amassing a collection of plants, and then wanting to create specific homes for them. I got a booklet in the mail with classes offered by my city’s recreation center and saw that they had a pottery class.
I loved it instantly and was heartbroken when the class was discontinued after a few months. I found my current community studio shortly thereafter and have been learning and creating ceramic pieces ever since. It was at that same studio that I became friends with people who knit and crocheted and they convinced me that it would be another hobby I would enjoy.
Coincidentally, a new yarn store opened up around the same time and it just felt natural to have a balanced love for fiber and ceramics. It’s why I decided to go with a longer name of Pine Cone Ceramics + Crafts; I knew that I would have to always reserve a space for the part of my creativity centered around fiber and non-ceramic endeavors.
Since becoming involved in the world of fiber arts, I’ve experimented with dyeing (both natural and acid) wool as well as block printing fabric, dyeing fabric, and sewing. I am about to embark on a line of micro-dyed naturally dyed yarn using plant materials from my own garden grown in pots I’ve made.
What is your favorite design?
I think my favorite design is my Venus Planter and the subsequent Idiyanale Mugs and Cups. I decided to make it upon returning from a vacation to central Europe where I got to see the Venus of Willendorf in the Museum of Natural History Vienna and having a conversation with a sculptor friend who had described taking an intensive course with a sculpting instructor who had taught them how to make “perfectly proportioned” human figures.
The idea of incredibly toned athletic bodies being set as “perfect” rubbed me the wrong way and I decided to create a simplified form of a full female figure reminiscent of those that had been worshiped as fertility goddesses in ancient cultures all over the world. From the Venus Planter, it progressed to cups and mugs, and those are named after a pre-colonial Tagalog goddess: Idiyanale.
Who taught you, encouraged you in your craft?
The woman who taught ceramics at my city’s recreation center is an incredibly sweet older woman named Marilyn. I loved her enthusiasm for the craft and to honor her I named one of my handbuilt polyhedron vase designs after her.
Do you feel being a BBIMP has an impact on how your creativity is viewed/received?
Absolutely, yes. Ceramics is a craft that is heavily reliant on Asian heritage. From creative methods to glazes to clay, Asian cultures have shaped global ceramics, especially what we consider ceramics and pottery today.
The thing I am trying to do more is to be more comfortable in being in front of the camera to claim my space in the crafting world as an Asian woman. Naming my pieces after Filipinx myths is also part of that because I am now insisting people learn how to say Idiyanale and Sasaban (the name of a set of stitch markers I offer) to address specific designs instead of workarounds that get them out of learning how to pronounce Tagalog names. I want to educate my audience about my culture, even if it’s through small nuggets like the names of certain designs.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a few new homeware pieces in ceramics and my first line of homegrown naturally dyed yarn!
How does your creative work| craft help you?
Creating, imagining new things to create, and learning new crafts is genuinely my raison d’être. I have a deep and unshakable belief in the arts as an embodiment of humanity. Even utilitarian tools are designed in ways that tell stories about the culture that created it, and I love contributing to those stories.
Tell us a little bit about your practice or the steps you take to create your work.
I usually just get my ceramic ideas on the fly while going through my day or talking with people. I carry a notebook with me everywhere that holds all of my notes for my various crafts and I write/sketch all the specifications and notes down. If I’m unsure about the end result of a glaze, I usually fire test pieces first to confirm if my idea will work well or not.
What’s the overall message you want your audience to take away from your work?
I want my audience to know that I really do mean it when I say that my pieces are thoughtfully designed: from form to color choice to name.
What is the most helpful resource for your business that you can share with us?
I don’t know if this is considered an odd answer, but I think Instagram is probably one of the most valuable resources I have for my small business. It can be difficult to manage a professional account, but the ability to network and communicate with other makers and businesses is incredibly valuable to me.
What is a personal habit that has helped you significantly in your business?
I habitually remind myself the worse thing a retailer can say is no and it won’t hurt. It keeps me from magnifying rejection to cataclysmic proportions.
Where do you see your business|Crafting in 5 years?
At my most optimistic, I see it growing to owning my own small private studio for my various crafts.
What is a lesson learned, from being a designer, that you wish someone had told you when you first started?
Don’t undervalue your time and effort.
What is something that you’re passionate about and why?
I am very passionate about art history. As I mentioned in a previous answer, I truly believe art is an embodiment of humanity. Building on this, educating oneself in art history is learning how to unlock time capsules that may look like an ornate table setting but is actually a story of a society.