Studio Visit: Martina Thornhill

The effortlessly chill Martina Thornhill had us over to her home ceramics studio. Martina and her husband, Drew, converted the garage of their Mt. Tabor home into a functional space for her and her beautiful work. She graciously walked us through her intricate process; Martina hand builds EVERY ONE of her pieces, and for those of you who don’t know much about ceramics - that's real intense. Hand building is a process that she admits is not conducive to making large quantities but something that ensures that each piece she makes is unique and requires her presence. Martina embraces her curiosity and playfulness, carrying it over into her work by experimenting with interesting clay bodies and custom glazes. Working with clay has always been therapeutic for her; self taught she has been able to turn it into a full-time gig. 

1. What has been your biggest obstacle?

    Myself. I was, and at times still am, so worried about what "real" artists would think of my work. Whether I was original enough, interesting enough, good enough. There was this deep feeling of insecurity like I was waiting for someone to call me out on not knowing what I was doing and the fear of putting myself and my designs out there and possibly being rejected really held me back for years. Those fears still surface every time I move in a new creative direction, but I've gotten better at talking myself through them and remembering that whether or not my work sells does not define it's value. Do I feel proud of it? Does it represent me in the way I hoped? Those ideas are more important.

2. What or who inspires your design?

Lately I've been pulling a lot of inspiration from Japanese ceramics, ancient artifacts, shells and natural textures. Expanding into more sculptural work while still allowing each piece to be functional has been a really enjoyable challenge that has me searching out vintage pottery and designs books everywhere I go in the hope of finding new glaze recipes and intriguing shapes that could possibly be translated into ceramics.

3. What is your favorite part of your studio?

It's proximity to my house. Ceramics is such a time based art with each step based on moisture levels. If things get too dry too fast, they crack. If you work on something that's too wet, it could collapse. Being able to check on pieces throughout the day and sneak in even 30 minutes worth of work whenever I can would be so much more difficult if my studio wasn't next door.

4. Your favorite thing about your workspace?

     After years of using communal ceramic studio space it feels so wonderful to have a space that is completely mine. I can step away and when I come back everything is exactly where I left it.