Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Spotlight On: Carey of CocoMason Designs

My best friend threw pottery through the end of high school and most of college.  Her parents were beautiful potters as well and in my house I have little jars and containers all over with their marks on the bottom, holding pens, pencils, knitting needles.  So when I saw Carey's shop with it's glowing blue glazes and perfect curvatures, it reminded me of visiting the studio with my best friend and I had to interview her about her Etsy shop, CocoMasonDesigns.

Tell us about yourself, anything you think is worth knowing. My name is Carey Coco, I am 33 years old. (I'm not sure when that happened) I am a mother of two rowdy boys, ages 1 and 3. I live in Florida but was born and raised in Louisiana. I started potting in college. I changed my major many, many times and finally decided to become a nurse! I added ceramics to my schedule every semester and just fell in love with clay. I finally did become a nurse and currently work in a Trauma Intensive Care Unit. Working keeps me "in the real world" and clay lets me live in a creative dream! The two are very contrasting but both very challenging and work intensive. 

What is your medium and how did you get into it?  When I was around 6 or 7 my best friend and I would make mud pies, literally, we would make hamburgers and buns out of clay dirt in her backyard. With pickles and onions and all! Then, months later, we would play with it again, when it was dry. I guess you could say that I was always drawn to clay and dirt, I'm sure it's in my DNA! I didn't have the opportunity to take pottery in high school, but when I got to college I had some official training. We had a very open studio and you could find me there all hours of the night on a regular basis. My instructor became more like a mentor and my role was more of an apprentice. 

 Where do you take your inspiration from?
I love function. I grew up in a large household, with 5 sisters, were being useful was valued. I guess I have adopted that value too. I like making things people can use everyday. Being pretty is nice, but being pretty AND useful is even better!
I guess my biggest inspirations come from my teacher, what he valued in pottery, shapes, wall thickness, glazes, etc. but really come from everywhere! I draw my colors from nature, the sky, the water, rocks and earth. What more do you need? The hard part is achieving these colors at cone 6! 

I am always looking at objects with an eye for clay. I go through the grocery store looking for shapes to press into clay for texture and items I can use for slump molds. I just taught a class where we used Pringles cans as a form to make tumblers. It worked great! 
When creating, do you have more "Aha!" moments or do you slowly figure things out? What's your process?  Both really. I try to work in a series. I'll make several of one kind of item and then in a few days I'll make several more, looking for ways to make the design better, or fixing what didn't work the first time. Usually I'll figure out the best way through trial and error but sometimes I'll get distracted and move on before I get it figured out! Working in clay isn't instant gratification, it takes weeks before a piece is finished, sometimes much longer, so the process can be quite drawn out. 

What is your favorite piece of art you've created and why? My favorite changes day to day. Currently I'm in love with my new glaze, its a creamy white layered with an iron wash and then a green glaze over that. It comes out looking so interesting, almost purple! I don't have many of these pieces listed yet, but I am planning to glaze a whole kiln load this weekend!

I guess my other favorites are things I have kept. I love my copper ox blood red bowls and there is a mug that I use on really sluggish mornings, its copper red too. I don't have the equipment needed to get these reds. Red tends to be a potters dragon so to speak. 

What is one piece of art you wish you'd created and why? 
I've got a list of things I will get to...wind chimes, a fountain, slip casting, making press molds, getting an extruder to make lidded boxes, slip trailing, I want to make plates with 5 gallon buckets..I could go on... But one thing I missed?  In school we could have built our own kick wheel, I should have done that. 

If you could have one person living/dead own a piece of your art, who would it be and why? My grandparents, all four. They all died before I got to meet them. 

One piece of advice you've picked up along the way that you'd like to share.
My favorite quote. "Strive for excellence not perfection."

One random thing/fact/idea you'd like to share that isn't covered here.
I'm a real cajun. I like crayfish, boudin, jambalaya, gumbo, well, you get the idea. And yes, I am a fabulous cook!

Obviously, friends, I'm back from Florida, and with me come the usual posts.  Since this week will be the second Wednesday of the month, keep your eye out for a giveaway coming up on that day.   Also, the feature this Friday will be more tips and tricks about linocutting!   In the meantime, don't forget to check out Carey's shop at

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