In Art on
May 1, 2017

Katie Marks: Breaking the Mold

Plutarch once said: “No man ever wetted clay and then left it, as if there would be bricks by chance and fortune.”

Every craft takes practice, patience, perspiration and inspiration. The art of ceramics—one of the most ancient of arts is no exception. In her Seattle studio, Katie Marks wets ordinary clay, and creates everyday objects that are extraordinary works of art. While Katie has a mentor, professional ceramicist Matthew Patton, and has had some formal training, she credits most of her initial ceramics learning to the power of the internet–watching youtube.

Her history is best explained by the artist herself on her shop’s webpage:

I have been creating things since before I can remember starting with play-doh moving to polymer and now finally with ceramics. I took 3 ceramics classes at my local community college in 2008 but it wasn’t until after I acquired my first wheel in 2010 that I attended the University of Youtube. You can learn anything on the internet…Most things are wheel thrown gas fired porcelain but I experiment from time to time with electric fired work. Art is life…”

From unicorns to crystals, Katie takes the banal coffee cup and elevates it to art. But, just as Plutarch pointed out, clay just doesn’t become something brilliant or useful overnight. It isn’t ever that simple.  Katie describes her creative process as very cerebral:

I usually spend a good 3 months coming up with an idea in my head. I like to work out all the problems I will face in my head before I try to make it exist in the real world.  I also like to do sketches of ideas before I make them so I can see a 2d version of what I‘m making just in case the design is actually quite “rubbish” and I just couldn’t see it [in my head]. But, then I can make changes and build off of it and something pretty happens. Then after all the thinking and sketching I make things. It’s like 80% thinking, and 20% doing.”

After seeing the world Katie Marks envisions through her pieces, I think it is safe to say we all would love to live there. Each piece has a unique way of combining the terrestrial and the extraterrestrial, making her imaginative fantasy land feel like it could actually be an existing alternate universe or a piece of organic material from another galactic planet or 4th dimension.

She gives us a hint of how she achieves this by stating the following:

I have two main inspirations lately. The crystal pieces are inspired by the idea that if all the materials I use in clay and glazes were left in the ground, they [would] form natural crystal structures. I like the idea of using my human brain to manipulate the earth into looking like what it would do naturally but with my own interpretation of it. I also spent a month in Maui in the beginning of the year and I was so inspired by the sunsets that I saw there and I wanted to make mugs that looked like them so you could drink out of a sunset. I love putting my version of love and wonder into my work and I hope people can feel it when they look at or use my pieces.”

Katie does not do commissions or wholesale orders. I personally find that refreshing and brilliant. In my opinion commissions and wholesale orders would effectively stymie the creative process. It elevates each piece to a true work of art, not something imagined by anyone else or mass produced.

Katie announces when her next batch of ceramics will be posted on her etsy shop “Silver Lining Ceramics” on social media. If you are interested (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?), her newest collection will go live on Etsy this Friday, May 5th at 3PM PST.


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