One of our favorite Portland ceramicists', Alexandria Cummings, work first caught our eye while sipping Portland Apothecary tea at Sweedeedee. There is something soulful about her mugs, they are emotively familiar. Her work features fun proportions, unique color ways, and interesting texture. Focusing on the function of each creation, Alex has managed to make a line of relevantly utilitarian ceramics. Her work seems to be everywhere we turn; her collaborations with Tusk and Langbaan restaurants are beautifully executed, effortlessly complementing each dining experience.
We dropped by Hey Studio for a visit. Hey, founded by Alex and her business partner Dina No, set out to create a collaborative ceramic space and gallery. Members share a communal workspace and some have private areas with their own wheels. Hey is home to over 10 local ceramic artists including Rabbit Rabbit, Dina No, Scot Cameron-Bell and Katie Mudd.
Enjoy the photos and interview below and get a glimpse of Alex’s process and the creatively packed Hey!
1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here?
I was initially drawn to Portland because it sounded like a 'big' city that felt small, surrounded by a beautiful landscape with endless outdoor possibilities. Oh, and I heard Oregon had a Potters Association. I didn't actually know that much about it here before I moved other than a quick weekend trip where it rained. A lot, hahaha. That said, I am so glad I made the decision to move here and have definitely stuck around for the past 9 years because of my ever-growing community of friends, clients and studio mates. I never did become a member of the Potters Association...
2. What are your favorite things happening in Portland (design or otherwise)?
One of my favorite things happening in Portland right now is that so many creatives are starting their own businesses or studios, both craft and design, and are working and kicking ass for themselves.
3. How did your brand start?
I never intended to start my own brand, it just kind of happened organically. I got my BFA in ceramics, took a break and did a plethora of other jobs including preschool teacher, gallery associate, personal assistant... I was working at a creative agency tackling a variety of jobs including project, production and studio management for almost three years. During this time, I opened a shared studio space that I co-operated with another gal and picked ceramics back up and immediately fell back in love. As the years passed, I found myself in the studio more and more, the shared studio business model was growing to what is now called Hey Studio and I continued to grow my business. I finally took the step into full-time ceramics and have been developing my brand now for the past year and a half - its forever changing and evolving.
4. What has been your biggest obstacle?
My biggest obstacle is the quest to find more time, theres never enough of it to get everything done!
5. What or who inspires your design?
I'm inspired by my family, specifically my Great Grandma and my late Great Grandpa. Both were successful artists and craftspeople and always encouraged me to spend time in their clay studio, wood shop or forge with them. My Great Grandma is 95 years old and I still call her to this day to troubleshoot why my kiln is misfiring or why my plates are warping, I love that we have this connection and I know she's proud someone followed in her footsteps.
6.What are your favorite things about Portland?
Favorite things about Portland - we're so close to the ocean, mountains, rivers and lakes - being surrounded by like-minded people - the flowers, plants and trees -
7. What is your favorite part of your studio?
My favorite part of my studio is wherever the plush green swivel reclining chair is, its the super chill zone.
8. Your favorite thing about your workspace?
The two large bay doors - I love opening them on a warm, sunny day letting the natural light and breeze roll in.
9. Tell us two truths and a lie!
I love cilantro.
I had a rabbit named Hambone.
I have a tattoo on my butt.
10. 5 things you can’t live without.
My pups, Curry + Snacks, my fam., trips to New Orleans, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.