Meet Your Maker: NStar Studio

Nicky Ross of Nstarstudio makes pottery that you would think too perfect to be hand made. Which isn’t to say its without a unique and lovable character that you won’t find in your box store ceramics. Bright, crisp colors and intricate detailing make these modern pieces stand out. Her aesthetic effortlessly carries over to her fabric and embroidery work; a beautiful interpretation of modern quilting for every room of the house (check her website to see her quilts). We’re so glad to see her pieces shining on our shelves!

 

1| How do you describe your work to people who don’t know anything about crafting/art?

Fortunately, most people are familiar with ceramics growing up with dishes in the cupboard and plants around the house.  Mostly I emphasize the fact that every piece I make is made by hand, one at a time.  With a lot of mass produced ceramics, people are often surprised that I throw, trim and glaze each piece individually.

 

2| Why do you make things?

I make because I always have.  Because it is a force and motivation within me.  Because I love it.  I have always loved the beautiful nuance of handmade things and gravitated towards crafts as opposed to painting and drawing.  I’m actually terrible at drawing and way more successful with 3-D design.  Once I started to create with clay, it clicked.  Not to say that it was easy in the beginning, it took a long time to be able to make what I was envisioning, but I loved the process and that drove me to practice the craft.  There is a long history of ceramics in culture and craftsmanship.  As I learned more about this connectedness between art and necessity, it made me appreciate how dishware is an elegant balance of design and function.  I strive to add my own happy imprint to simple and needed objects.

3| How do you work, and where?

I work out of a small studio about 1/2 mile from my house.  After working in many studio throughout the years, It’s truly a dream to have my own private workspace.  I generally go into the studio several times a week to make, finish, glaze and fire.  Usually anywhere between 1-8 hours depending on what needs to be done and how it coordinates with my teaching schedule.  Because my schedule is all over the place and varies from week to week, I try and make the most of the time I have at the studio.  It also helps that based my my production background, I’m usually pretty efficient by nature.

4| Was being a working artist always your plan or was there an “aha” moment?

I’m not sure that being an artist was ever my plan.  I’ve just never stopped making or being curious about crafts in general.  I guess you could say that I never grew and in always pursuing my heart, I’ve had a fortunate path so far. I had a ceramics minor in college and decided to move to Madison, WI after I finished.  I started working at a community ceramics studio shortly after I got here and learned the real ins and outs of running a studio.  It’s a lot of work and I wore a lots of hats, but it taught me everything I would need to know to have my own studio now.  The 10 years I spent designing and decorating for a local pottery company gave me the opportunity to hone my production skills and fall in love with the influence of design on everyday things.  I also teach at several studios in town and I love being able to share these skills and inspire others.

5| What do you love about your job?

I designed and decorated for another local pottery for 10 years, so I love that I can now concentrate my creative efforts on my own line of pottery!  I love that I can try out new ideas.  I love that I have flexibility in my schedule.  I love that I get to create things that serve a purpose in other people’s lives.  I love the personal connection I have with my customers.   I’m so fortunate that I get to do what I love and I don’t take that for granted!

6| I love how your work is modern, yet fun and almost whimsical. Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

I would say that my inspiration comes from all kinds of places, the shapes of japanese functional forms, scandinavian simplicity, traditional folk art quilts, Art Nouveau illustrated posters, modern art paintings, wall paper patterns.  And, of course the gorgeous work of so many makers, new and old.  I just wish that I had more time to experience more influences on a regular basis.  It can be a tough balance between being inspired and trying out new ideas!

7| You work with textiles as well, creating bags, quilts and more. What brings the two processes together for you?

I started sewing when I was about 10, basic things to start, then really getting into the concept of making things that I needed.  Simple skirts, tote bags, and eventually quilts.  I guess the same idea of functional design drew me to textiles as it did with clay.  And my love of color and pattern tie the two mediums together even though they are very different to work with.  I have aways been drawn to graphic quality of textiles (probably because I’m terrible at drawing!) and find it fascinating how the scale of a pattern can have a huge impact on the finished item.  I try to incorporate that graphic element in my pottery and make sure all the colors get a little love.

8| If you could swap lives with another artist, who would that person be?

Tough call!  Either Eva Zeisel  or e.e.cummings.  Eva was an industrial designer who worked in ceramics as well as other mediums.  She brought a sense of sensuality to common dishes and elevated them with stylized beauty while maintaining their everyday function.  e.e. cummings is my favorite poet and would have loved to see the world through his eyes and heart.  He was able to capture the beauty in the overlooked tiny moments of life and not only put them on paper, but make his poems visual artworks as well.

9| What makes a handmade object valuable?

Most simply that it’s made by hand, not mass produced, but made with love and intention by someone.  Sentiment and stories can of course enrich the value of a handmade object, perhaps something made from someone who is no longer with us or something made especially for us.  Choosing to make and using the knowledge and skills you have available at the time plus the intent to share that something with others make a handmade object very special.

 

10| Using that definition, what’s the most valuable object you own?

Anything that I have that was made by someone I know holds a soft spot in my heart.  And all of the handwritten notes, letters and cards from my love, Rob are priceless.

 

11| Tell us one true thing about yourself that people don’t believe when you tell them.

I was a poet.  I went to school for creative writing.  I spent many years writing poetry, edited several poetry journals and used to perform at poetry slams.  Since focusing on ceramics, it’s fallen by the wayside, but I always think about getting back into it.

12| Give us three more non-crafting-related details about you or your life.

-I’m terribly uncoordinated.  I got kicked off my t-ball team when I was little because I couldn’t hit the ball!

-I don’t like bacon or avocadoes. (I know, crazy!)

-I love to travel.  If I had more money, I’d spend it seeing the world.  I’ve traveled to 12 countries and can’t wait to experience more!

 

13| Any new product lines on the horizon? Plans for 2017?

I had a couple of studio moves between 2015 and 2016, so I’m actually really excited to have a more permanent place to be able to experiment with new ideas.  Business-wise, I’d like to try out a few new shows and grow the business now that I have a stable studio.  Creatively, I would love to play around with some new colors and develop new patterns to keep those timeless functional pieces fresh.

 

For more NStar, check out her website, Etsy shop, Facebook, or see her work in person here at the shop!

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This Week at the Shop: March 13th

Did you know Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival? If Wikipedia says it, it must be true! Better find a little bit ‘o green to wear on the 17th and support your fellow Irishman. We’re here to help!

Around the Shop

This cheery little strawberry by Happy Grey Skies is peeking out of a tumbler by Staci DeBolt Pottery.

Freshen up your kitchen with one of the many choices of potholders by Umbrella Girl Productions, this new license plate light by Indyardart reminds me of road trips, a bright new clutch like this one by Oh Sew Betty! will fight away the snowy blues, and don’t stop believin’ in that summertime garden with these stakes by Peg & Awl.

Two sure signs its spring: our displays are full of plants and animals and our checkout is full of Indianapolis Indians baseball schedules!

Our window is complete! So fresh, so springy.

Coming Up

Workshop: Intro to Weaving: Saturday, March 18th, 2-5pm: In love with the wool and woven textile movement? Come learn how to be a part of it in this workshop! Woven tapestries have always been very chic and it seems that they are hard to come by, as they are handmade, unique, and cherished. Three perfect adjectives as to why you should take this workshop! Students will learn how to thread a needle and begin a loom, as well as several braiding methods. All supplies will be covered in the cost of this workshop, including a handmade weaving loom for each student to take home. Participants may bring 4 balls of their own yarn to make something truly unique!

Workshop: Wire Wrapping Basics: Saturday, March 25th, 1-4pm: Have you ever wanted to go on a gem hunt? Well, here is your chance! Rana Salame Striedinger of Salame Jewelry Designs is opening her treasure chest of gemstones for you to peruse and select from to create your own one-of-a-kind jewelry. Students will learn several wire wrapping and jewelry assembly techniques to create one unique item.

Workshop: Feather Hair Accessory: Saturday, March 25th, 4:30-6:30pm: ly by and wire wrap a few hairpins for your summer updo’s with our resident gemstone queen Rana of Salame Jewelry Designs! Learn a few feather crafting and wire wrapping skills to make three hairpins or a hair comb. The options are endless and there will be a variety of feather, crystal, and metal options to choose from. Sips and snacks provided or you can byob!

First Friday Gallery Exhibition ft. Robert Young: Friday, April 7th: 6-9pm: Join us for IDADA’s First Friday Gallery Walk in-store celebrating the work of local illustrator and comic artist, Robert Young. Graduating with a BFA in Illustration from Herron School of Art & Design, Robert later earned his MFA in Illustration at The Maryland Institute College of Art. Currently an Illustration Professor back at Herron School of Art & Design, Robert has had work featured in Time Out New York, Until Now Magazine, The Classical.org, The Travel Channel, and more.

Workshop: iPhoneography: Saturday, April 15th, 1-3pm: Learn how to utilize your iPhone’s camera features to their maximum potential in this iPhoneography workshop with local professional photographer, Rana Salame. Students will learn basic photography techniques like composition and lighting as well as how to use effects to enhance images. Participants will edit photos in the VSCO Cam app to make images more creative and visually appealing. Once skills have been covered, the group will hit the streets of Mass Ave to test out newly acquired techniques. A roundtable discussion will follow to study images and next steps to continue snapping like a pro.

Pampering Pop-Up: Saturday, May 13th, 11am-4pm: There’s no one that deserves more pampering, attention, and relexation than Mom. Bring her in store on this Mother’s Day Eve, for an indulgent experience featuring bath and body demo’s from 407 Botanicals and a jewelry trunk show from Sara B. Jewelry & Metalsmithing. You and Mom both will also enjoy 10% off your entire Homespun purchase today.

See ya next week, friends!

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This Week at the Shop: March 6th

Today the sun was shining in the shop, making everything look bright and new! Take a look at some of the glorious new products on our shelves now.

New

These new pieces from Willow Modern Glassware were certainly not immune to the luminous qualities of the evening sun. Awesome little glass cactus that will live forever pairs great with these little glass dishes.

This  wooden lazy Susan by Richwood Creations is covered in springtime flowers! These shot glasses by United State of Indiana are ready to make drinks and sit on the porch with you, and this print by Cordial Kitten isn’t knew, but it is a classic. Also loving these adorable new onesies by Hoosier Proud.

Gallery

The Scum Lords exhibit by Robert Young is on now and looking BA. Especially loving the mystery trading cards.

Around the Shop

Our new window display is in progress but already glowing.

Our sign-work looking sharp and our awesome new doorbell is ready for a little customer interaction!

Coming Up

Workshop: Intro to Weaving: Saturday, March 18th, 2-5pm: In love with the wool and woven textile movement? Come learn how to be a part of it in this workshop! Woven tapestries have always been very chic and it seems that they are hard to come by, as they are handmade, unique, and cherished. Three perfect adjectives as to why you should take this workshop! Students will learn how to thread a needle and begin a loom, as well as several braiding methods. All supplies will be covered in the cost of this workshop, including a handmade weaving loom for each student to take home. Participants may bring 4 balls of their own yarn to make something truly unique!

Workshop: Wire Wrapping Basics: Saturday, March 25th, 1-4pm: Have you ever wanted to go on a gem hunt? Well, here is your chance! Rana Salame Striedinger of Salame Jewelry Designs is opening her treasure chest of gemstones for you to peruse and select from to create your own one-of-a-kind jewelry. Students will learn several wire wrapping and jewelry assembly techniques to create one unique item.

Workshop: Feather Hair Accessory: Saturday, March 25th, 4:30-6:30pm: ly by and wire wrap a few hairpins for your summer updo’s with our resident gemstone queen Rana of Salame Jewelry Designs! Learn a few feather crafting and wire wrapping skills to make three hairpins or a hair comb. The options are endless and there will be a variety of feather, crystal, and metal options to choose from. Sips and snacks provided or you can byob!

First Friday Gallery Exhibition ft. Robert Young: Friday, April 7th: 6-9pm: Join us for IDADA’s First Friday Gallery Walk in-store celebrating the work of local illustrator and comic artist, Robert Young. Graduating with a BFA in Illustration from Herron School of Art & Design, Robert later earned his MFA in Illustration at The Maryland Institute College of Art. Currently an Illustration Professor back at Herron School of Art & Design, Robert has had work featured in Time Out New York, Until Now Magazine, The Classical.org, The Travel Channel, and more.

Workshop: iPhoneography: Saturday, April 15th, 1-3pm: Learn how to utilize your iPhone’s camera features to their maximum potential in this iPhoneography workshop with local professional photographer, Rana Salame. Students will learn basic photography techniques like composition and lighting as well as how to use effects to enhance images. Participants will edit photos in the VSCO Cam app to make images more creative and visually appealing. Once skills have been covered, the group will hit the streets of Mass Ave to test out newly acquired techniques. A roundtable discussion will follow to study images and next steps to continue snapping like a pro.

Pampering Pop-Up: Saturday, May 13th, 11am-4pm: There’s no one that deserves more pampering, attention, and relexation than Mom. Bring her in store on this Mother’s Day Eve, for an indulgent experience featuring bath and body demo’s from 407 Botanicals and a jewelry trunk show from Sara B. Jewelry & Metalsmithing. You and Mom both will also enjoy 10% off your entire Homespun purchase today.

See ya next week, friends!

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This Week at the Shop: February 27th

This sunny little selection above our dressing room jumped out at me like a cheerful spring day. Items that reflect the brightness of spring and are filled with the joy of creating by hand, what more can you ask for? Fill your home with happiness! Come see the new items we have on our shelves now.

New

New cards from Arsenal Handicraft and Cracked Designs.

Pins and patches new from Band of Weirdos. I’ve got my eye on Mild Thang.

New enamel pins from 1606 Supply Co. “I have no idea what I’m doing” pretty much sums up my life.

Love this gorgeous jewelry from Alisha Louise Design.

New rings and more from Oceanne.

New glass beauties from Willow Modern Glassware. The ball jar on the right is a spoon rest!

Beautiful new wooden coasters and cheese knives from Richwood Creations. Donate to charity with every purchase!

We have new neighbors, too! Check out Kingmakers right here on Mass Ave. For a $5 cover, you can play games all day! Family friendly, with coffee, beer, wine, and more. It looks like a blast. Bring your co-workers, bring your friends, bring your date!

Coming Up

First Friday Gallery Exhibition ft. Robert Young: Friday, March 3rd: 6-9pm: Join us for IDADA’s First Friday Gallery Walk in-store celebrating the work of local illustrator and comic artist, Robert Young. Graduating with a BFA in Illustration from Herron School of Art & Design, Robert later earned his MFA in Illustration at The Maryland Institute College of Art. Currently an Illustration Professor back at Herron School of Art & Design, Robert has had work featured in Time Out New York, Until Now Magazine, The Classical.org, The Travel Channel, and more.

Workshop: Intro to Weaving: Saturday, March 18th, 2-5pm: In love with the wool and woven textile movement? Come learn how to be a part of it in this workshop! Woven tapestries have always been very chic and it seems that they are hard to come by, as they are handmade, unique, and cherished. Three perfect adjectives as to why you should take this workshop! Students will learn how to thread a needle and begin a loom, as well as several braiding methods. All supplies will be covered in the cost of this workshop, including a handmade weaving loom for each student to take home. Participants may bring 4 balls of their own yarn to make something truly unique!

Workshop: Wire Wrapping Basics: Saturday, March 25th, 1-4pm: Have you ever wanted to go on a gem hunt? Well, here is your chance! Rana Salame Striedinger of Salame Jewelry Designs is opening her treasure chest of gemstones for you to peruse and select from to create your own one-of-a-kind jewelry. Students will learn several wire wrapping and jewelry assembly techniques to create one unique item.

Workshop: Feather Hair Accessory: Saturday, March 25th, 4:30-6:30pm: ly by and wire wrap a few hairpins for your summer updo’s with our resident gemstone queen Rana of Salame Jewelry Designs! Learn a few feather crafting and wire wrapping skills to make three hairpins or a hair comb. The options are endless and there will be a variety of feather, crystal, and metal options to choose from. Sips and snacks provided or you can byob!

Workshop: iPhoneography: Saturday, April 15th, 1-3pm: Learn how to utilize your iPhone’s camera features to their maximum potential in this iPhoneography workshop with local professional photographer, Rana Salame. Students will learn basic photography techniques like composition and lighting as well as how to use effects to enhance images. Participants will edit photos in the VSCO Cam app to make images more creative and visually appealing. Once skills have been covered, the group will hit the streets of Mass Ave to test out newly acquired techniques. A roundtable discussion will follow to study images and next steps to continue snapping like a pro.

See ya next week, friends!

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Meet Your Maker: Manayunk Calligraphy

Kimberly Shrack of Manayunk Calligraphy has a magic pen. Or so it would seem after escaping into her world of art prints, calligraphy kits, DIY wall art kits, mugs, totes, and wedding calligraphy. Her story is one of triumph; inspiring not just to artists, but to those struggling through what life has thrown their way. Read on to learn more, and enjoy the playful tranquility of her work.

1| How do you describe your work to people who don’t know anything about crafting/art?

Calligraphy is just a fancy word for fancy handwriting! I use this technique to make word-based illustrations.

 

2| Why do you make/design things?

There’s nothing quite like creating something totally new. Something that’s never existed before now, something totally unique.

3| What do you love about your job?

Literally everything. I get to do new things, I get to play with pens and ink and paint and paper all day. With weddings and custom work, I get to be a little part of people’s lives.

4| Was being a working artist always your plan or was there an “aha” moment?

It was something I always wanted – when I was in grade school, I would come dressed in a smock and beret for career day (realistically, I should have come in leggings and a pullover, since that’s what I wear pretty much every day). But as I got older and realized how much things cost, I pretty much resigned myself to the idea it wouldn’t happen. I painted and drew and scripted in my free time, selling pieces every now and then. But then there was an aha moment. 

A few years ago, I took FMLA from my full-time job in public relations to participate in an intensive treatment program for a mental illness. Sexy, I know. I have lived with obsessive compulsive disorder since I was a kid, and by my mid-twenties it was so severe that I needed to be under constant supervision. I was accepted into a study at Penn and underwent intensive treatment for months. Through a combination of new medication, daily exposure/response prevention therapy and a lot of hard work, I was able to get my shit together (that’s a technical term). For me, every moment without a compulsion is beautiful. And as obsessions quieted and compulsions took up less and less of my time, I began to appreciate minutes and hours and days more than I ever had before. And it was then that I realized I didn’t want to spend those precious minutes and hours and days doing something that didn’t bring me joy. And so I took the leap. Honestly, even during the leanest, scariest times as a working artist – and there have been plenty of lean times! – I have never, ever regretted that decision.

5| Why are you called Manayunk Calligraphy?

Manayunk is the name of the ‘hood I lived in while I was in Philly. It was jam packed with small business owners who all encouraged me to go out on my own – they supported my business before it was an official business. I never ever would have had the guts to quit my job and pursue an art career had I not lived in that place at that time.

 

6| How do you work, and where?

I work out of a studio in my home in Irvington. When I’m not in the studio, I’m usually at the coffee shop 10 Johnson Avenue – in fact, I’m there right now! Best pistachio muffins ever.

7| Tell us about the White Wall Rebellion!

It’s a partnership between myself and HGTV’s Monica Mangin! Here’s a blog post with more info.

 

8| If you could swap lives with another artist, who would that person be?

Banksy, because how kickass is he?

 

9| It looks like you’re a teacher, too. Tell us about the different ways people can learn calligraphy from you.

There are two ways! The first is an in-person workshop, which I host at Oliver’s Twist in Carmel. Folks can sign up here.

I also teach online courses that you can take at your own pace.

10| What makes a handmade object valuable?

The time, the care and the human contact. I know this sounds new age-y, but when someone makes with joy, little pieces of that person and their joy is transferred into the object. It glows.

 

11| Using that definition, what’s the most valuable object you own?

In college, I studied art history. My now-husband, then-boyfriend would help me study for exams with flashcards I’d make with paintings stuck on the front of index cards with notes on the back. Toward the end of my college career, he pulled together a little collection of his own cards featuring works of art that I loved and that he remembered from our study sessions. It’s been a little less than a decade since he made those and they are dogeared and faded – but I still look through them when I need inspiration, a smile or a laugh.

12| Tell us one true thing about yourself that people don’t believe when you tell them.

I use a PC. I know, I know.

 

13| Give us three more non-crafting-related details about you or your life.

  • I have a cat named Piggy.
  • I love the Muppets (see above).
  • I’m a podcast junkie.

 

If you need some Manayunk if your life, we have a selection of her work right here in the shop. You can also see the full range of what she has to offer on her website. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook for a daily dose of inspiration. Thank you Kimberly!

 

 

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