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Artist Feature: Alysha Hill

A ceramicist and her whimsical art

Tell us about yourself and your craft. 

I am a born and raised Minnesotan pursuing my ceramics passion as my career. After receiving my BFA with an emphasis in ceramics from MSUM, I started teaching ceramics, jewelry and glass fusing to all ages and levels at the Eden Prairie Art Center, where I also work as their ceramics studio tech. All my personal artwork is made in my in-home studio in my spare time. I make a variety of works, anything from functional dishware to playful decorative art. My ceramics are often a blend of wheel-thrown and hand-built using locally sourced clay. I love incorporating a nice subtle pop of color and whimsical designs that wrap around a piece, leaving one eager to discover more details within. When I’m not making art, I love the great outdoors, playing with my puppy dog, traveling with my husband and all things food.

What does your creation process look like?

Let’s just say I am not one to stick to creating one particular thing or process! I love to play/experiment while creating, which often brings me to other new ideas and concepts.

The ceramics process has many steps and can be a tedious task to get the results that you are trying to achieve. When creating something from scratch, I often start with a game plan of what I want to make (mugs, bowls, vases, earrings etc.) and draw out ideas and forms. Depending on the project, I will choose to hand-build or wheel-throw; this will take me about a week’s worth of time to throw (make the form), dry to “leather hard” so I can trim, then add handles/designs and bisque (fire the clay for the first time). From there, I draw the form I’m working with and draw out multiple design ideas. When doing so, I really think about the functionality of the piece. For example, for a plate, I keep in mind what food I imagine using it for, how it will interact with the plate, how color will reflect on the food – after thinking these things through, I decide on design and begin to think about glazes.

Before glazing, I always test my glazes and surface combinations prior to using it on a final product, which can add more time to the process! Once the piece is bisqued, I sand my work and start the third round of design for glazing. Lately, I’ve been using a slip trailer for wax resist designs, let it dry out for a solid day, then either glaze by hand painting, dipping or pouring. Lastly, pieces are fired to a Cone 6 oxidation and Voilà! Overall, it usually takes me about 3 weeks – give or take – to come up with a newly designed product.

Who or what inspires you?

  • My mother – both her drive to achieve and also do what she loves
  • My college professor, Kelli Sinner – her playful creations and support for others 
  • Mother Nature – hiking/walking, forests, discovering details within
  • Mindfulness and being in the present
  • My students

Best and worst thing about being an artist?

  • Best \ creative freedom and the outlet to give others a glimpse of what’s going on in my mind. Also, having the ability to make something that can last, be a work of art and have functionality all-in-one. 
  • Worst \ I’m definitely not in it for the money, and this practice takes a lot of patience.

Tell us some things about you or your art that most don’t know.

  • I am an ambidextrous night owl!
  • When throwing, I really focus on breathing which helps me also focus on pressure points
  • I embrace minor “flaws” in my work because it is a reminder that my art is handmade
  • Working with clay is therapeutic for me and has taught me to be more open-minded

Where can we find your work? 

You can find my work at A.Hill.Studio’s Etsy and Instagram. The Edina art center also carries some of my pieces, and (soon) my earring will be sold at Honeycomb salon! I also sell at art fairs, here and there, around the Twin Cities.

Closing Thoughts:

Clay gives makers the ability to render ideas and create organic works of art. When I create, every movement I make is recorded into the clay with intention. I hope my art encourages people to be mindful of their environment and the objects we use + take in the beauty and details of a moment in time.

Due to the nature of being a one-woman run business and items being handcrafted start to finish, each piece I create has a unique personality of its own. No two pieces are exactly alike (ever)!