Designer Feature | Natasha Alphonse
Natasha grew up in Northern Saskatchewan as a member of the Denesuline Tribe. She graduated from the Alberta College of Art & Design, with a focus in drawing. Currently residing in Seattle, she now runs a small ceramic studio where she works on home-wares and installation pieces that are inspired by natural beauty and landscapes. We visited Natasha in her cozy SoDo studio and got to meet a sweet pup named Olives, the unofficial studio mascot!
Photography by Rachael Lang
Tell us about how you got started working in ceramics.
While I was in school I stumbled upon ceramics in my last semester of my degree, and became really fascinated with the whole process. After I graduated I moved to Seattle and continued my own exploration in learning as much as I can from doing residencies and taking classes from Pottery Northwest and Seward Park Clay Studios. I loved the aspect of creating something from earth, watching it transform at each stage and the end result is functional and held each day.
What standard day in the studio like? How do you start the day?
I start the day at 7 am, first exhaust the dog of her morning energy for about an hour then eat a hearty breakfast and drink some coffee. I look up new podcasts to download for the day, and head over to my studio. Once I get to my studio I make a pot of tea and then start weighing out clay and wedging up the days list of things I want to make. Things get into a good rhythm with throwing pots and having to trim them each day, it helps to break up the repetitive nature of making if I have pots from the day before to go back to trim. Then once I have enough work to fill a kiln I fire it off which takes a couple days to cool and unload, then focus on glazing for a few days. The cycle of the studio usually flows pretty organically depending on what orders I have and experiments I am working on.
What aspects of the Pacific Northwest have informed the aesthetic of your work?
I think the mysteries of the ocean plays the biggest part. I live in West Seattle now and get to walk along the ocean each day, to wonder and be curious about all the unknown possibilities the ocean houses is really helpful in staying inspired with the role of being a maker. The richness of mossy color and plant life throughout the year is also amazing.
Are you experimenting with any specific techniques?
I am working with more sandy stoneware clay bodies right now, layering with white slips and formulas of subtle white glazes. I would also like to learn how to work with more local additives to my pieces, such as sands and small rocks.
What’s next for the line? Are you looking at anything in particular for inspiration?
The next line will be incorporating more of the grey and dark chocolate brown clays, highlighting the beauty of the earthy clay itself. I am looking more at the warmness of stones in the landscape, I want you to feel like you are holding earth in your hands as you drink or eat. Balance is always going to be a big interest for me, I try to figure out what bare-essential components each piece requires for that sweet spot where nothing needs to be added and nothing can be taken away.