About StefStudio

Bio

As a child, I made 2 trips to Arizona to visit my Grandparents. I simply loved the area, and after graduating high school, relocated here.  My clay education started at Pima Community College night classes in 1987. After the first few weeks of a pottery class, I became hooked on clay and decided to drop my accounting classes so I could devote more time to the clay studio. After two years at Pima, I took classes at the Tucson Museum of Art and then began a studio at home in 1990. This is the same year I exhibited work in a juried show and started selling work through galleries. The spring of 1992 brought an opportunity to work on a public art project for another artist. This opportunity meant going part time at my "regular" job. I juggled part time work and clay life for years, finally becoming a full time artist in early 2006. I absolutely love the focus that has been brought to my clay work.  I currently work with various clays and firing processes, including Red Stoneware, White Stoneware, Terra Cotta, and Raku.

I love working in my studio and talking clay. When friends ask me about my work, I tell them to just let me know when they've heard enough, because I never tire of sharing the joy of clay. I get as excited today about a new piece of work or a good raku firing as the day I threw my first pot on the wheel (it took a whole semester of classes and I still have that pot).

In the spring of 2011 I had a Raku piece included in the Lark Publication, 500 Raku.  It is filled with many wonderful images.  Check it out at your local bookstore or online.

About the clay...

Red Stoneware - I love the warmth of this clay color. It really adds to the depth of the overall blue glaze. Stoneware pieces are suitable for food storage, serving, and are oven and dishwasher safe. If baking in your piece (brownies, lasagna), lower the baking temperature of the recipe by 25 degrees. Bake for the same amount of time. Please see additional notes below about proper care of any functional pottery work.

White Stoneware - I started working with the white stoneware after using it during a workshop. It gave me the opportunity to test some new glazes and the first pieces started appearing on my website in the summer of 2008. White stoneware pieces are suitable for food storage, serving, and are oven and dishwasher safe. Same baking and care instructions as Red Stoneware.  Please see additional notes below about proper care of any functional pottery work.

Terra Cotta - Another richly colored clay that holds my more whimsical designs. I started decorating with snakes early on and can't imagine ever stopping. Terra Cotta is suitable for food storage, serving and is oven safe. I do not put any of my Terra Cotta pieces in the dishwasher. If baking in your piece (brownies, lasagna), lower the baking temperature of the recipe by 25 degrees. Bake for the same amount of time. Please see additIonal notes below about proper care of any functional pottery work.

Raku - An ancient Japanese firing process where pots are brought up to temperature of 1400-1900 degrees, depending upon the glazes used. The pots are removed when the desired temperature is reached and may be placed among combustible materials (sawdust, paper, leaves, straw) which will ignite. The fire is smothered by cutting off the air supply, and the smoke assists in the glaze development. The word Raku stands for pleasure, ease, contentment. Raku pieces are not suitable for food storage or serving. Enjoy the beauty of the work as an accent to the other visual pieces in your home.

Care of your functional pieces...

Handmade pottery works best in the oven when you are baking a casserole type dish, or one that fills the bottom of the pan. This would include, but not be limited to, brownies, lasagna, potatoes au gratin, bread, etc. If you are cooking a chicken on a rack, use a glass or metal pan. Want to use the broiler? Use the metal rack that is in the oven. Handmade pottery should never be used on the stovetop or outdoor barbecue grill. Not sure about the use you intend it for? Email me (stef@stefstudio.com) and ask.

I prefer to use wooden or plastic serving utensils with large serving bowls, but of course use regular stainless forks, spoons and knives on individual plates and bowls. The biggest tip I can give you here is to clean your serving spoons by wiping them clean with another spatula, not by banging them on the edge of the bowl or serving dish, platter, baker, etc. I truly cringe when I see someone doing this on any dish (and usually gently educate them). Wonder how that glass lip got cracked, why that metal pan has a dent, or how that lovely pottery piece has a slight glaze chip? I bet you are used to cleaning your utensils with that aforementioned banging method. Can you tell how I feel about it yet?

Baked-on food cleans up easily on the glossy type glazes I use. No need for harsh cleaners or lots of elbow grease. Usually just a few minutes in your usual warm soapy dishwater will do the trick. If the dish was left out overnight, and is a bit crusty, simply fill it with warm soapy water, or soak in the sink until the food softens and wipe clean with a soft sponge. I use Dawn and the sponges with the green scrubby on one side.

Dishwashers, what would we do without them? I still hand wash all of my serving or baking dishes since they don't fit well on the racks. I NEVER put Terra Cotta into the dishwasher. It's just the nature of the clay, it will always absorb some water, so hand washing and thorough drying is best (leave on the counter to dry, don't wash, dry and put away all in 5 minutes). If you regularly hear the clinking and clacking of plates when your dishwasher is running, it has been loaded improperly and you will chip your clay work. All that said, I put my stoneware plates and bowls into the dishwasher regularly.