Founded by Erica Tuomi just two years ago, Willowvane Ceramics has made great strides. With a selection of graphic and functional pieces, the work is simple, yet fun and fresh. Sprinkle mugs, abstractly patterned planters, matte vases each have their personality which can be the star of any ceramics collection. Erica initially a trained graphic designer looked to ceramics to get a break from the computer screen and it developed into a career in its own right. She still utilizes her graphic design background to create her pottery, using tools like Photoshop to test out her designs. Then she’ll use innovative techniques using commercial glazes to apply the patterns of her work. All in all it creates a wonderful depth and a playful result. We’re big fans of Willowvane and we think you’ll be too.

Tell us, how did you get into ceramics?
I took my first ceramics class back in 2009 during my undergraduate study. Though it’s not my strong suit, I fell in love with throwing immediately. In 2015, I was reintroduced to pottery through a local studio. It started as a hobby, a break from the computer as a graphic designer. And it quickly became something that I pursued professionally.

Your work is painterly yet graphic, what is your creative process like?
My creative process is very systematic. I typically write down all of my ideas for a new collection. Starting by sketching out the designs, exploring color combinations and creating mockups in Photoshop. Once the designs are narrowed down, I will create test tiles and samples. This step is actually the most exciting yet scary part. If I’m lucky, it works out the first round. Other times, the design gets lost in translation. There are also times that I stumbled upon a happy accident.

What are you inspired by?
There are many things that inspire me. They range from minimal and abstract design to monochromatic and colorful patterns.

What was the most exciting thing that happened to you in your ceramics career?
The most exciting thing would be when I launched my online shop. This meant I was serious about pursuing ceramics as a career.

Can you tell us a little about your glazing process? Do you mix your own glazes? How do you get such colorful speckles and painterly patterns?

Before glazing, the bisqueware is sanded and cleaned. The matte collection has the simplest glazing process which requires pouring the glaze inside and dipping the top portion into the glaze. For the more colorful collections such as Sprinkles, Pattern, and Gradient, they are painted with 3 coats of underglaze, then dipped with clear glaze when needed. Currently, I use commercial glazes but hope to produce my own glazes soon.

What does a typical day in your studio look like?
It’s messy! On a throwing day, after four to six hours of throwing cylinders, an abstract clay design on the wall is created. Trimming day is my favorite time spent in the studio, shaving vessels into their final forms. With a combination of masking and waxing, glazing day can be similar to cake decorating, and it’s fun and challenging depending on the project.

Who are some of your favorite potters?
Katie Marks, Brian Giniewski, Ben Medansky, Helen Levi and Lindsay Emery

What are you working on now?
I’m working on expanding my product line, including planters, bowls, and plates. Also working on new designs for summer and fall.