Denise Krueger makes small ceramic sculptures reminiscent of plants, seed pods, and ocean creatures. Sometimes they come out as functional objects like salt and peppers shakers and tiny jars but mostly they end up being non-functional pod forms for home decor as wall art. The artist feels these natural forms mimic life at the cellular level, which looks very like the shapes and forms seen in every day animal and plant life.
Pod forms are made from two pinched pots attached together. They’re hand built with low fire clay and fired in a kiln to Cone 04, about 1900 degrees Fahrenheit. They will tolerate rain if placed outside, but they do best if you bring them in if it freezes. If they are wet and they freeze, they could experience some cracking.
The glaze used on this work is food-safe and dish washer safe, so they are all food safe – except for the artier, drier glazes. These glazes are still non-toxic, but are not for food as they could be hard to clean and could trap food, so they are only used for the artier pod forms.
These pieces are inspired by natural life: tide-pools, flowers, seed pods, colors, cacti, dreams, music with interesting rhythms, and mossy orange and green lichen-covered tree branches. She also draws from geology and volcanoes, and the ever-changing local weather.
One of her more satisfying inspirations is collaborating and making art with friends and family.
She has been drawn to making art all her life. Her first ceramics class was at the Children’s Art Museum at eight years of age, where she made a dish for the family guinea pig. She has been fascinated with clay since.
After flunking out of college very early attempting to become an accountant, she struggled to support herself with low-paying jobs in the eighties and nineties. To appease her creative nature, she would go home at night and knit colorful sweaters, socks, and blankets. Later, she would paint geometric designs on wooden objects from thrift stores such as spice racks, bowls, and sectional dishes shaped like fish. In 1998, when she realized that she was trying to mimic a ceramic surface with paint, she began to take ceramic classes at Georgie’s, the local ceramic supply company, and made strictly functional wheel-thrown ceramic work for several years.
In 2002, a class in ceramic hand-building taught her how to make spherical objects using two pinched pots. She is still finding joy in designing new “pod” shapes with interesting lines and textures and discovering new ways to integrate these pod shapes into functional ware. She currently resides in southeast Portland and has a small ceramic studio in her home.
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