The stoneware ceramics created by Natasha Alphonse almost beg to be touched and held. Many of her pieces are unglazed, with the exterior of the clay sanded to a delicate texture. Natasha experiments with rough and glossy glazes, along with pit-firing and other techniques that add a beautiful organic uncertainty to her work. Subtle variations differentiate each piece, making each truly a unique piece of art.
Tell me a bit about yourself
I’m an artist who comes from northern Saskatchewan, part of the Dene tribe. My background is in drawing, working with ideas of the earth and my place in it. These ideas behind the work I’m interested in making has slowly led me to clay and this fascination with working with physical earth to make objects that we can use and enjoy everyday.
Tell us a bit about your process and/or your workspace
I run a small pottery studio in Sodo, Seattle. My space is quiet, and full of many started projects. I love having a space to myself where I can make at my own pace, think about what I want to create and fill my head with the many podcasts I enjoy listening to.
I find that the perfect time to reflect on what I am making in the studio is best observed while walking. I live close to the ocean and get to think about these things as I walk along it.
How did your childhood influence your current work?
I grew up on a reservation in Canada called Black Lake. It is a very remote part of the north, and my childhood was spent outdoors fishing, raising dog teams, and exploring the woods with my brothers. These vivid memories of living off caribou and eating smoked trout; visiting with my Dene grandma and relatives has deep roots within me. My family has always supported me as a maker, I’m not sure what I’d be doing if they didn’t surround me with so much belief.
When and why did you fall in love with making things?
I fell in love with the idea of being able to make something that can be used and functions around daily rituals. Taking so much time to make an object, then to see its purpose continue to bring joy as its used is so much fun.
The process of clay from mud to stone, and all the small steps in-between is a really amazing thing to witness. After I met some older potters, and noticed how they saw the world – full of endless learning and excitement- I was hooked. I thought this material has so much to offer and it will be a life-long exploration.
Is there any other craft or skill you would love to master?
There are SO many things I want to learn! Bronze casting work, woodworking, weaving on a loom, bead working, and scuba diving.
Is there a time when failure or quitting ever led you later toward success?
I think the fear of failure is present in most creative processes, not always knowing if you are listening to the right directing voices within.
You never know where your craft or artistic practice will lead you, giving it everything you have will show you its potential. The fear of not trying hard enough is always a good motivator for me to keep on exploring.
If you were magically given an extra 2 hours each day, how would you use it?
I would take a long walk! I always plan on making it outside for a decompressing walk outside but sometimes don’t have time to make it out there!
Cascadian Dry Goods stocks a variety of Natasha Alphonse's work including mugs, our favorite mixing bowl, and porcelain necklaces, but you can see Natasha's full lineup over at www.alphonsestudio.com. If you enjoyed the photos in this post, don't forget to follow @natashaalphonse on Instagram. Waking up with some tea or coffee in one of Natasha's mugs sounds like the most perfect morning, doesn't it?