A building with a history... and a future! April 11, 2018 10:25
If you’re in the Boston area don’t miss a visit to Mudflat Studios in Somerville, pictured here! Last year I was commissioned to make this platter as a gift for executive directory Lynn Gervens, from her husband Richard Freierman.
Richard had the piece made for Lynn for the 100th year of the Broadway Theater in East Somerville, now home to Mudflat. Since 1971, Mudflat has offered the Boston area the opportunity to work and play in clay as a professionally run ceramics school. It is also home to 34 studio clay artists and several open studio events throughout the year.
In 2011, Mudflat moved to the old Broadway Theater building after an extensive renovation project. During renovation, keeping the history of the building intact was important. In Richard’s words, “[last year] Mudflat had an exhibit and celebration honoring the history of the building, which was originally a movie theater. Although it looks a lot different now, we were able to keep a lot of the original detail and sense of space intact during the renovation. Lynn’s vision for a new home for Mudflat was a big part of acquiring the building and turning it into such an amazing space. At the same time we celebrated the building, I wanted to give her something to celebrate her amazing accomplishment.”
The platter has an image of the building inlayed on the front and on the back there’s an image of the staircase inside the building. To Richard, “The staircase is in the center atrium of the space, and is kind of the heart of the building. The piece really captures the interesting space, and the spirit of Mudflat.”
“It was really rewarding working with Nicole to get the platter made. I think that as a ceramic artist herself, she really appreciated what’s been accomplished at Mudflat.” He also added, “Nicole has a great eye for what makes spaces special. Homes, bridges, cityscapes, museums, and clay studios—she does a great job of capturing them on her custom pieces. And, her craftsmanship is superb.”
It was truly an honor to be asked by Richard to help document this incredible milestone and accomplishment for Lynn and for Mudflat Studios. Richard and Lynn are always a welcome sight at any event, their positive energy resonates with me long after they’ve gone. Thanks for being so awesome Richard and Lynn!
Custom Mugs of a Childhood Home August 21, 2016 17:40
I recently had the pleasure of working with Karen Jarsky, a woman I met while teaching a workshop at a local crafts school, Snow Farm. She told me that the mug I had brought with me as an example (one with my childhood home on it with the staircase on the interior) “nearly made [her] cry sentimental tears.”
Karen and her sister Janet commissioned me to make three mugs with their childhood home on them - one for each of them and one for their mother. It was such a pleasure to work on these mugs because like me, Karen and her sister have so many memories associated with the details of their childhood home. I asked Karen to make sure she pointed the details out, so that I could make sure the mugs I made matched her memories of the house. And so she shared her memories...
Karen remembers that “During most of our childhood there was a pine tree in the front yard, to the left of some of the photos of the front of the house. My parents planted it when we were small, and it was no more than a few feet tall at first. It grew up with us and then got taken down when it was too tall (which is why it’s not in the oldest or the most recent images). It would be wonderful to include that in some form — whatever size makes the most sense to you.”
She also recalled that there were three red chairs on the front lawn, which were “a fixture through our childhood years.” And that the picnic table in the backyard was “there for many years and we had many summer dinners out there.” Finally, that the staircase had a “landing and a right turn like your childhood stairs did, which is why the mug you brought to Snow Farm spoke to me so much!”
With these details she provided the corresponding photos, so that I was able to document the house in it’s entirety - with details of the front of the house on the front of the mugs, the back of the home on the reverse, and the staircase on the interiors.
To top it all off, Karen just made my day when she contacted me to tell me she took the mugs to meet her mom and sister for a week in the Adirondacks where she and her sister surprised her mom with her mug. She told me that “every morning, each of us made our way downstairs and found our mug, filled it with coffee, and then settled in on the porch. When they weren’t being enjoyed that way, they were living on the windowsill. My mom absolutely loved her gift, and the first comment from both her and my dad was, “The red chairs are even on the lawn!” Thank you again for the amazing attention to detail.”
My heart melts :-) Thanks so much for sharing your story with me Karen!
Interested in capturing your memories in a one-of-a-kind porcelain piece of tableware for your loved one? Check out my most popular custom pieces here, and contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions at all!
A Home with 100 years of Family History March 29, 2016 10:24 2 Comments
One of the most memorable custom pieces I've created this past year captures a truly heartwarming story. Kimberly Allison and her mother commissioned me to create a custom plate with an inlaid image her grandmother’s home.
Kim’s grandfather was born in the house in the 1920’s and her grandmother has lived there since they were married in the '40s. Her mother was born and raised there and her grandmother often cared for her there as a child, so this one home holds almost 100 years of family history. Unfortunately, her grandmother’s health began to fail and she was forced to move out of the home. Kim and her mother wanted her to have a way to remember the home.
Kim asked me to include some special details from around the house including the garage, the fence and the rock wall, because in her words, “they each have different memories that are just as important as the structure.”
She explained, “The garage is where my grandpa always worked on his car and made grilled chicken for me when I was a kid. The fence is stockade now, but it used to be white picket that separated my grandma’s yard from my Aunt Phyl’s. My mom’s cousins grew up there, and they were almost like siblings. And I’ve always thought of the rock wall as the home’s pedestal, lifting it from the ground and making it feel that much more sturdy to me.”
“I was nervous that my grandma might not recognize it as her house simply because her health was failing rapidly and she really hadn’t seen in from the outside for quite a long time, but as soon as she opened it she said, “Oh, it’s my house!” and loved it! She immediately asked my mother to find somewhere to put it where she could see it from her bed, which is the highest compliment a piece can get from my grandmother.”
Since leaving the home, Kim’s grandmother has been living in hospice care in an assisted living facility. She keeps the plate in a stand on her bureau surrounded by photos of her family where she can see it and its many memories every day.
To Kim, “The finished piece is exactly what I was hoping for! It’s hard to put into words what it means to me, but it feels like a record of and tribute to the home’s impact on our lives. One of the things I love most about Nicole’s illustrations is that they transcend time. Her carving of my grandma’s home could be from a ‘20s photo when my grandpa was a baby, or it could be from when my mom was walking her dog on the lawn in the ‘50s, one of my birthday parties in the ‘90s, or the day I took the photo in 2015. She captured the right details to make the home come to life and call to mind memories from any point in our history with it.”
In addition she says, “You can see in the finished work how much Nicole enjoys being a part of the stories behind the custom pieces she creates and the care that she takes with each request. At some point I hope to commission pieces of my mom’s home and mine to create a set of three generations of family memories.”
Interested in creating a custom piece of your own? Visit my custom work page for more information!
Custom Wedding Registry - Home March 22, 2016 08:29
“Artists instill the difference between the things that we have and the things that we cherish. Commissioning a piece from Nicole will not only give you the satisfaction of receiving a personalized piece of ceramics, it also helps sustain the creative livelihood of an incredibly talented and industrious woman.”
One of my favorite commissions to date is an eight-person dinnerware service I crafted for Alyce and Chris’s wedding registry. Alyce and Chris met nine years ago at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY and married last May in the beautiful Berkshires. They are both from Boston, moved to London shortly after their wedding, and cannot wait to return to their home city at the end of next year.
For their dinnerware set they provided images of their grandparents’ houses, childhood homes, college dormitory, first apartment and other meaningful locations. Each place setting in the range represents one of the homes. The dinner plates show the homes in full, while the salad plates, cups and bowls show intimate details, such as a front door or set of stairs. Some of their guests even commissioned their own pieces for the set, including a set of sushi plates with inlaid images of the Boston and London Skylines.
In the words of Alyce and Chris, “Unwrapping each finished plate was a nostalgic, heartwarming experience, and our friends and family got to give us gifts that meant something to them as well.”
“China is typically the cornerstone of wedding registries, and such sets are often handed down from generation to generation. Nicole made us a personal dinnerware set that bears even more significance than typical wedding china. We are so happy to have such a personal set of china that we can cherish for a lifetime. We love that they are curious objects that will start conversations over dinner with family and friends.”
Interested in being featured on the Nicole Aquillano Ceramics Blog?
Contact me at email@example.com