Potter - Frances Palmer Pottery
Areas of Specialty
- Art History
Designer Q&A with Frances
What is your design philosophy?
To create beautiful objects which elevate and bring grace to the everyday. How a bowl or cup feels in one’s hand and the pleasure of using it are as important as how it functions.
What led you to this career?
Although I have made art my whole life, I initially followed my equal interest in academics, and earned a BA and MA in Art History. I draw from this foundation every day in my ceramics.
After working in museums and galleries in New York City, my husband and I moved out to Connecticut full-time 25 years ago. I began searching for an art form that I could do in my studio while raising three children in the country. I am an avid cook and gardener and so making the vessels for the food and flowers seemed a perfect way to unite these two passions. The moment I sat at the potter’s wheel, I knew that I had found my métier.
What has been your favorite project and why?
I was recently commissioned by Renée Price, the Director of the Neue Galerie in New York, to design a collection inspired by the Wiener Werkstatte artist, Dagobert Peche. His work is incredibly elegant and I have considered his ideas in my own ceramics. I created a group of pots with strong forms and contrasting glazes. The black/white vase from this series was selected by the New York Times 2011 Winter Design Issue as a “new collectible.”
Tell us about your most challenging project.
In 2005, I conceived the idea to produce a tableware collection, manufactured in the United States, that would be able to function on both quotidian and formal tables. To realize this project, I contacted the century-old Buffalo Pottery (now named the Niagara Ceramics Company) in Buffalo, New York. The challenge was to bridge the gap between the handmade and industrially produced. I threw the original prototypes, which were used to create "unique" molds.
The dishes, named the Pearl Collection, are now manufactured by hand-pressing or casting from vitreous china at this employee-owned factory. Through this process, the shapes keep the integrity of my original forms. The collection is virtually indestructible, perfect for families, and is now found in homes across the country.
What is your design process?
- I look at and study an enormous amount of art, either through exhibitions or books.
- I keep journals for my ideas and shapes. When I receive a commission, I begin to throw and see how the clay works with the design.
- I make sketches and notes for every completed pot and also document it with photography.