Bombabird by Chelsea Erdner
If there was one way I'd describe Chelsea's work, I'd say it's effortlessly thoughtful. Every detail on every piece belongs right where it is, and that creates a sense of naturalness to it, as if the clay, form, and glaze were all meant to be like this.
And it is. Chelsea tirelessly creates pieces with unique glazes and textures that takes incredible amounts of practice and trial runs to perfect.
There's no detail in this collection that is there by mistake, and when you choose to look a little closer, the purposeful precision and planning is undeniable.
A Ceramics Life
Growing up, Chelsea practiced making ceramics, starting with pinch pots early on. Since then, it's always been a part of her life, especially now as a full-time ceramicist.
Chelsea works out of a community studio in Pittsburgh and a personal studio in her home. The practice and work of ceramics has even become a part of her most sacred place. Gathering inspiration from everywhere around her all the time, new forms and ideas often come to her as she closes her eyes to sleep.
Along with elegant forms and colors, Chelsea's work sings with texture. Each piece has a unique feel to it, and it's evident these feelings are created with intention.
This Bombabird collection features pieces named by surface textures, like Ribbed, Lined, and Bumpy - and it's for good reason. These pieces personify those traits to the point that they become representative of tactile sensations.
An Interview with Chelsea Erdner of Bombabird
How did you get started in ceramics? What drew you to it?
Ceramics has been art of my life for as long as I can remember. I still have pinch pots I made from elementary school. Of course, it started out as just something to do in school because art electives were right up my alley. But, it quickly became an interest that I knew was going to grow into something more one day. I have always been fascinated by the process of making a piece and the fact that excitement to create something new is always present in ceramics.
Why "Bombabird"? Where did that come from?
Prior to making work full time, I worked as a designer for a small product and marketing firm. I was making work on nights and weekends and as momentum started to pick up, I felt like I needed a brand to present the work under. I wasn't confident enough to use my full name so I ended up coming up with Bombabird as a fun, lighthearted way to introduce my work to the world.
What do you want people to know about this particular collection?
This collection (and my work in general) is strongly driven by form, line, and texture. By nature, clay is a very organic material. But for me, there is something so satisfying about creating clean lines and polished forms. All the pieces start as a sketch on paper or an idea in my head, then go through lots of trail and error until I am happy with the final form. Then, I throw lots of them to master the shape and eventually share them with people. As far as texture goes, each piece is finished in a unique custom glaze that I mix using recipes that I have tweaked to get to desired effect I want for my work.
Where do you find your inspiration?
The cliche answer is everywhere. A more realistic answer would be moments in my everyday life where I think a piece would compliment it. I like to make work that I enjoy using in hopes that people will welcome it into their homes and enjoy it as well. Whether it is a mug to start off your morning or a bud vase to hold flowers you found on walk, I like knowing my pieces are involved in the lives of people who own my work. Inspiration tends to hit when I am trying to sleep and I picture a new piece that I would like to have in my own home then I go from there.
It seems like texture is an important part of your work, what does it mean to you?
I loooooove texture. Personally, I don't like when things are over done. But in my work, I always felt like I needed to "do more" to call a piece finished and then it would come out of the kiln not feeling like I made it. Once I learned to embrace texture, things started to fall into place. Texture is such a subtle detail that has a way of adding so much character to a piece. I enjoy exploring new ways to incorporate texture into my work and then seeing how the pieces can work well together but also stand alone.
Where do you typically work out of?
We are fortunate enough to have two amazing community studios in Pittsburgh. When I was getting my footing, I initially had an internship at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. I loved working along side other artist and learning from them but I quickly out grew the space with the level of production work I was making. So, now a days, I work out of my home studio. I am very lucky to have a fully functioning studio in my basement but it has it's cons as well...like not seeing the sun for days on end. This spring I am hoping to move my second wheel out to my porch so I can throw outside and enjoy some fresh air.
Anything else you'd like people to know?
Lately I have been trying to figure out a way to communicate just how hard ceramicists work. I really appreciate hard work in all forms and I applaud it everyday. Before diving into this as a full time career, I used to admire other people's work without ever thinking of the hours of hard work behind it. It is easy to look at a finished piece and appreciate it in that final form. But, now that I am running a business, I have quickly learned to see things in a different light. Everyday is something new and you have to be quick on your feet to make sure everything gets done. I am grateful for the people who have helped me make decisions to get to this point. With the help of them I am now at a point where I get to wake up everyday, work hard, and build something I am proud of.