"Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Wallflowers are floral ceramic wall hangings made entirely by hand in my Richmond, Virginia studio. Each one-of-a-kind piece incorporates elements of hand-built and wheel-thrown earthenware. Every flower is hand formed, and every vase is thrown and trimmed on a potter’s wheel. The tile background is created from a clay slab which is measured and cut, then stenciled or hand-painted with underglaze. After a long, slow drying period, the assembled piece is fired at 1800° F, then slowly cooled. Next comes hand painting with underglazes, two coats of a clear glaze and a final firing. The entire process can take several weeks.
Before my hands ever cradled a ball of wet clay, they were digging in the earth, tamping soil over tiny zinnia seeds. But my affection for all things flora must have begun long before that—perhaps with the colorful wallpaper of my childhood bedroom or the bright cushion that my mother stitched in needlepoint. In my early adulthood, a brief stint as a pastry chef found me positioning sugary blossoms atop towering confections. It was no surprise, then, that when I discovered clay, I felt compelled to decorate my ceramic functional ware with flowers. I put tulips on platters and pitchers; little bees on mugs and bowls. Yet despite their charm, these delicate adornments did not last long on my otherwise sturdy vessels. Leaves and petals and tiny stems fell victim to the hard reality of a busy family kitchen and I found myself sweeping colorful shards into the dustbin.
My interest in flowers persisted even as I realized the futility of those early efforts. Arranging cut flowers from my garden into a bouquet or centerpiece became an artistic endeavor akin to the creation of a painting; an exploration of color and design; gesture and motion. I realized that my clay flowers belonged on their own “canvas,” and I set to work learning how to make an earthenware tile to which I could affix them and on which they could bloom safely.
In addition to horticultural inspiration gleaned from my own garden, I draw influence from botanical prints and “flower portraits” of the 19th century, both of which fascinate me. The stenciled background of my pieces seeks to evoke the faded loveliness of vintage textiles. Winged insects contribute to the sense of movement and provide a whimsical element. All of this in the rich and vivid colors of the spectrum of low-fire glazes and underglaze.
It is both a challenge and a thrill to capture in clay the delicate yet sturdy optimism of a Daffodil; the endearing floppiness of a Tulip which continues to grow even after it is cut. Wallflowers are my tribute to the real thing; the garden beauties which never fail to make us smile.
photo by John Martin
Q: How can I purchase one of your pieces?
A: To initiate the process, click on the piece you would like to purchase. Then, email me at email@example.com to let me know of your interest. Note the title of the piece in the subject line and include your shipping address as well as any questions you may have. I will reply to confirm availability and give you a total price including shipping, along with my Venmo or PayPal handle for payment. When I receive your payment, I will confirm a shipping date.
Q: How do you hang wallflowers?
A: There is a wire at the top of each piece (usually hidden by a petal of the topmost flower) from which it can be hung. On average, Wallflowers weigh between 3 and 6 lbs. and can easily be hung from an ordinary picture hook of the appropriate weight specification.
Q: Wallflowers look so delicate! Can you really ship them?
A: Yes! After many years (and a couple of mishaps!) I have come up with a really safe way to get them to you. That said, if for any reason your piece should arrive damaged, be assured that I will refund your payment or make you a new piece!
Q: Do you take commissions?
A: Yes! I have enjoyed working on custom projects such as a Wallflower replica of a wedding bouquet, a piece that was tiled into a client’s kitchen backsplash, and a collection of Wallflowers to cover the complete wall of a covered porch. A single custom piece will take at least 8 weeks to complete, but can often take much longer, so let’s talk soon!
Q: Where can I see your work in person?
A: Currently Wallflowers are hanging at:
Shockoe Bottom Clay*
1714 E Main St.
Richmond VA. 23223
Annie Gould Gallery
109 S. Main St.
Gordonsville, VA 22942
*SBC is home to my studio, so if you are planning a visit to the gallery,
please contact me if you would like to also schedule a studio visit!
Stay in touch!
Send me your questions and comments. I’d love to know your thoughts or talk to you about a commission. Your ideas are so inspiring and always appreciated.
I can’t wait to hear from you!