I was fortunate this summer to sneak away to a quick vacation with my family to Highlands N.C. in late summer. I LOVE North Carolina, yes, I love Charleston too but have you ever lived here for a whole summer? Whew! So a trip to the mountains is a welcome relief. The added bonus is that I can stop by Asheville on the way back (ok, slight detour). Asheville N.C. is like Disneyland for the craft enthusiast. Countless galleries, arts organizations and River Walk Arts District are in and around the Asheville, N.C. area. In the River Arts section of Asheville there are over 180 studios, many open to watch artists at work and purchase their creations. It is here where native Charlestonian Heather Knight of Element Ceramics has made her home, started a family and works full time as a ceramic artist. I visited Heather and her husband Mike in their studio/gallery on Depot Street.
From front window of Element Ceramics on Depot Street
Surface: What is the one aspect of working with clay as a material that you like the best?
Heather Knight: The immediate response to my touch.
Surface: You work has natural forms mostly reminiscent of the ocean. Has growing up in Charleston, S.C. by the ocean effected your design in clay?
Images: Heather hand building one of her "Micro Tiles" out of porcelain clay. Close up of Hydrangea Micro tile.
Heather Knight: Absolutely. There was a time when I kind of went away from that notion, but the piles of seashells I bring back to the mountains with me would beg to differ. I may live in the mountains, but the beach is my home.
Surface: You work in both functional and sculptural forms. Do you have a preference to create?
Heather Knight: I go back and forth between the two. Sometimes my spirit is moved to create very tedious, time intensive work, and others, I want something more immediate.
I am currently experimenting with press molds of actual shells and natural items from my collection and have started throwing on the wheel again.
Surface: Heather, you are a full time artist. Any advice to students or artists out there that might be considering a life supporting themselves by their art?
Heather Knight: My favorite thing to say, is "Time on Task" - one of my professors repeated this over and over in school. The point being, you need to spend time on what you want to succeed at. Being a working ceramic artist requires a lot of studio time, and running a successful business demands time and attention as well. I think being mentally prepared for those challenges is a great place to start.
I wouldn't trade this work for anything, but taking your love of art from hobby or dream to profession is a journey that we are not all cut out for - and that is ok. I think it is so important to be true to who you are, because that is where you find happiness and success.
Element Clay Micro Tiles displayed at Surface Craft Gallery
Element Clay Studio
362 Depot St., Suite 101, Asheville, NC 28801
Visit us on Etsy! elementclaystudio.etsy.com