Tree Jar, 13 in. (33 cm) in height, wheel-thrown, altered, and handbuilt mid-range white stoneware, with underglaze decoration.


CM: How much preplanning is involved in making your forms and surfaces? Is the surface planned at the same time as the form, or as a response to it once it is built?


CD: Although I do plan out the forms and surfaces of my pieces ahead of time, the best way to describe the process is ordered chaos.  When I grab a hunk of clay, I have a pretty good idea of what forms I’ll be making and what patterns or characters I’ll be drawing onto the surface. Within this structure, I like to leave room for spur-of-the-moment decision making along the way.



Play is a crucial part of my studio practice. I regularly investigate new forms, techniques, compositions, patterns, and colors. The unpredictability of trying new things is fun, and allows me to impart a sense of freshness and play through the work.




Treat Servers with Candy, to 5 in. (13 cm) in height, slab-built and wheel-thrown mid-range white stoneware with underglaze decoration, gold luster, and candy, 2011–12, by Chandra DeBuse

All of my forms spring from narratives connected to landscapes of leisure or characters with determined natures. My sketchbook is my playground for developing these ideas and my planning ground for designing forms. Once the form is built, I often use food coloring to map out surface compositions. I hand draw all of my images and patterns directly onto the clay. This process has surprising outcomes because the pen and ink drawings on paper get distorted through the translation of drawing with a sharp blade over a contoured clay surface.


I take cues from the natural world in approaching color decisions, and then I turn up the volume on color to give pieces a playful punch. If a form is referencing a tree or a shrub, chances are it will end up green, but I would not be above giving pink a chance on a tree jar. Some colors are just right for the job, but I do like to see how unexpected color choices can alter a viewer’s response to a piece.



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