Karen Milstein

Having started taking clay classes about 17 years ago and working primarily with micaceous clay for the past 10 years, I greatly appreciate the earthiness of this medium, and the tactile experience of forming vessels from it. It is a pleasure to make use of the ancient coiling, scraping, sanding and polishing processes, along with some slab work, and I always enjoy the sparkle of the mica. Sometimes I create traditional bean pots, though always with a contemporary consciousness, but more often I lean towards nontraditional forms, on the boundary between functional and decorative. I often incorporate other materials such as juniper roots, turquoise, and on occasion Anasazi shards, evocative of the geography and history of this Santa Fe area, and especially of the Cerrillos Hills.

All my pieces are fired first in my kiln, and then undergo a second firing in my fireplace or in an outdoor fire ring. For me, this is a very exciting and meaningful process, when the fire adds its own energy and markings to the work I have created, in an unpredictable and often stunning fashion. Yes, I can create the form, but the fire adds soul or spirit to the vessel!

Micaceous clay is an extremely practical material. Due to its unique heat-conductive properties, it makes for excellent cookware, suitable for both stove top (with a heat diffuser if your burners are electric) or oven use, and can even be used in a microwave. It is even said that the clay enhances flavor and that the mica adds bone-strengthening qualities to food.

My main career has always been as a psychotherapist, psychologist, shaman/healer, so it is no surprise that there is some carry-over to my work with clay. My intention for all my pieces, whatever their form, is to embody a healing and spirit-elevating quality. And each piece is a container which can hold whatever might nourish the owner, whether on the physical level as food in a cooking pot, or as a place to store wishes and dreams.