About the Artist

(Trimming a bowl at my trusty kickwheel. Photo Madelene Hoffman 2012)

About Me:

It feels as though I was born with an urge to create.

I was raised in a household without many "things". We were 13 children in a home where "making do" and pitching in were the way. There was very little room for decorative items, and certainly no money for them. Functionality trumped decoration hands down. Practicality ruled the day.

As for space in the 3-bedroom house, there wasn't much. We played in the great outdoors, whether softball or bike riding in the quiet country street or adventures in the woods. 

My aesthetics were formed in that place and time.

My tools growing up were pencils and crayons and, if unlined paper was in short supply, the cardboards from my father's shirts.

When I got old enough to babysit, I added some cash to the birthday dollars from my uncle, and bought oil pastels and a real drawing pad. 

A lack of training nearly made me give up on drawing, at age 14. But if you need to make art, something will find its way to the surface, and I began to write, just for myself, just to express. 

In the earliest days of marriage, with my husband at a street fair in Greenwich Village in NYC, I bought four stacking mugs from a potter. In the months and years that followed, I turned them over and around many times in my hands. The bottoms were brown clay with tiny rough bits in it, and the fine marks of having been wiped smooth by a fine-textured sponge while still damp clay. The mugs were glazed gray and blue, and specks of brown from the clay beneath had migrated through the glaze during the kiln firing. They were all broken long ago, but I can still see them in my mind's eye because they made me think.

I did not see why I, too, could not make functional art. And so I began my pottery career in 1985, when I was already the mother of two children, at Kean College's ceramics studio in Union, New Jersey (now Kean University). After about a year I bought my own kickwheel and put it in my basement. A year or so later I bought my first electric kiln.

Thirty-plus years after beginning at Kean, I still write, but nowadays mostly for my journal or my blog. I still draw, and have taken many classes since the early days when I could manage it. In the studio, the old kickwheel now has a motor, and it is adjacent to an electric wheel. The old electric kiln sits beside a newer one with a digital programmer on it. My day job takes place in the second incarnation of Mimi Stadler Pottery studio, in Hillside, New Jersey. I'm still downstairs in the house, but with a small gallery adjacent to my studio workshop. I call it The Gallery Downstairs. My work still bears strong influences from the woods of my childhood. Most of the forms still tend to be practical...with creative quirks. 

About the Pottery: My Philosophy

"Potter" and "designer" and "artist" all encompass what I do. In the simplest terms, I build objects from clay. A handmade functional object can be as much about art as it is about function. In less simple terms, I express what artistry I worked at and developed from whatever you call that initial urge to create.

My objects represent craftsmanship that evolved through slowly changing concepts and methods of execution. This could be said even for the deceptively simple pieces, which I have often arrived at after years of trial and error. My perspective continues to evolve. Freedom in designs and decoration often come from shapes, textures and colors that I encounter while hiking and kayaking. You will see freehand interpretations of leaves, branches and vines in my pottery. I apply these motifs across the board, to functional pieces but also religious-themed and decorative pieces, which brand my own artistic perspective on this medium.

In a world of so many scads of machine-made goods, especially with the advent of laser-built reproductions of even handmade objects (a strange and interesting new phenomenon), those things made by the craftsman's skill are by contrast even warmer and more interesting. They provide a connection between a human maker and human users. 

MimiStadlerPottery.com and The Gallery Downstairs together are a cottage industry using current technologically-based sales techniques, and also allow for personal visits to the gallery to look and and touch the pottery. Contemporary cottage industries have to use high-tech means of selling even while the methods used in creating the objects might be age-old or use old-time tool- but the wish to interact personally with handmade work is a very real one. It is an interesting paradox.

I also teach limited classes. See Pottery Classes and Dates!