Meet Martina Thornhill! A self taught ceramic artist based in Portland, Oregon.
Because of her background in fiber arts, she approaches ceramics from a different perspective. Treating the clay like fabric - developing patterns, fusing seams, and using her hands to create drape and flow. These methods allow her to create production pieces that still maintain a sense of individuality and personality.
The Modern Macramé Team had the wonderful opportunity to visit Martina's studio space and ask a few questions about her/her process. Check it out below:
Hello! Tell us who you are...
I am Martina Thornhill, a ceramicist currently living in Portland, Oregon.
What is your preferred medium?
I like anything tactile. Clay is my most used medium right now, but I also love to sew, knit, cook, and garden.
What was your process in becoming an Artist/Designer?
I've always enjoyed making things and as a child I dreamed about being an "artist" in the hazy childlike definition of the term. I don't consider myself particularly gifted at one medium or another, but I do love to learn new crafts and generally pick them up quickly so I flitted from one thing to the next stockpiling skills and sometimes trying to turn them into marketable items. In 2011 my husband and I moved from Portland to the east coast and I started taking pottery classes again. I posted some pictures of my mugs on Instagram and a couple stores randomly found them and asked if I would sell to them and things sort of unexpectedly steamrolled from there.
My business has developed really organically over the years and all of those stockpiled skills have been useful in growing it, whether it is photographing of my work, approaching hand-building ceramics from the perspective of sewing, or pulling color inspiration from quilts, paintings or clothing. I used to be hard on myself for my inability to commit to one medium, but now I see that it's all part of the process and I couldn't have ended up at this point without going through all of those phases.
What is your design inspiration?
Outsider art, Black Mountain College, Gee's Bend quilts, 70's psychedelic color palettes.
Describe your personal style:
Patti Smith meets Jane Birkin
What has been the biggest obstacle for you creatively?
I have a really hard time saying no to opportunities and get so distracted by the next upcoming project that I often can't just sit still and be fully present with what is currently in front of me. At a certain point I end up taking on too much, which leads to feeling overwhelmed and frustrated which then makes it hard to feel creative or productive. It can be a vicious cycle, but I'm learning to be better at acknowledging it's waves and recognizing that periods of high creativity are usually followed by periods of low creativity and that that is okay. Ebb and flow, hills and valleys.
What advice to you have for young artists?
Just make stuff. Don't worry about who likes it, whether it will sell, whether it's any good. All of that just holds you back. Making art is first and foremost about yourself.
Don't look towards contemporary work for inspiration because what's the point of making something that's already being currently made? Dig through old books and movies instead and visualize how that work could be reinterpreted through your medium. Folk and outsider art can be a great source of inspiration.
Don't be in a rush to sell your work. It takes a long time to find your voice in any medium and it's important to honor that process and give it time to develop naturally.
We used Martina's ceramic beads as a sweet addition to our Hanging Garden Knot Along Pattern! These beautiful ceramic beads are custom made for us and will add a special touch to your macramé or crafts.
Let us know if you have any questions or comments: