The Chronicle

Under the Influence: Britt Hawkes of Sea + Pattern

We discovered Britt Hawkes's Portland brand Sea + Pattern through her cast-concrete housewares, but it turns out the project has had many incarnations — it originally began as a fashion blog, capitalizing on Hawkes's decade-long experience in the fashion industry, before morphing into a line of handmade jewelry that channels her love of both art and architecture. Only recently did Hawkes add the housewares, all of which are named after or inspired by some of our favorite modern and contemporary artists: There's the Giorgio Vessel (Giorgio Morandi) and the Arp Bookends (Jean Arp), plus the piece that ultimately caught our eye, the Chicago Dish, which takes the shape of Anish Kapoor's famed Cloud Gate sculpture and which we immediately envisioned using as a very stylish ashtray.

To celebrate the debut of the Chicago Dish ($48) on Tetra, we asked Hawkes to tell us more about the influences that are inspiring her work now, from concrete floors to color theory.

CLICK HERE TO SHOP THE CHICAGO DISH

Britt's current influences:

1. Frank Lloyd Wright's red concrete floors

I recently visited the Frank Lloyd Wright Gordon House in Silverton, Oregon, and noticed his use of the red concrete flooring, which I had also seen at Taliesin West. It’s a bold choice, but each time I see it I love it more! Currently, I’m playing around with pigments to get the perfect red for future Chicago dishes.

2. Vija Celmins's graphite wave drawings

Her photo-realistic details shine through on each and every one of these drawings. I love that you can’t tell if you’re looking at a photograph or a drawing.

3. Sophie Taeuber-Arp's mixed-media works

I love her use of geometric shapes in her abstract paintings. She uses different components to give more depth to the compositions, so you’re looking at more than shapes floating on a canvas.

4. Color Theory

I’ve always been intrigued by color theory and the interaction of color. The color scheme for Sea + Pattern is very muted, but that’s why it seems so important to get the shades exactly right. I also love seeing my combination of colors together, so you can get a true feel for the color story.

5. Frank Stella paintings

The repetition in all of Stella’s paintings is very pleasing to the eye. They almost have a kaleidoscopic feel to them, especially with the glossy layer on top.

Meet the Maker: S. Jordan Fine of Pattern Play Glass

If you check out her Instagram, you'lI understand right away why the Cleveland, Ohio-based glassblower S. Jordan Fine called her burgeoning housewares brand Pattern Play: Not only does Fine often adorn herself in an effortlessly cool melange of competing brightly colored motifs, but her work itself revolves around the skillful deployment of a rainbow of patterns, too. The way she combines multi-hued blobs and splatters in her hand-blown cups and vases makes them so popular that often they sell out on Instagram within minutes, and the same goes for the pipes that she's been releasing with increasing frequency — which is why it's such a treat that she made an edition of her pipes ($85) exclusively for Tetra, in a colorway she calls "Pastel Paradise."

Scroll down to read an interview with Fine and see photos of her at work, then...

SHOP THE PASTEL PARADISE PIPE ON TETRA HERE

When did you know you wanted to do something creative, and how did you get started in your current practice?

I've always had creative pursuits and never imagined a future without them. In high school I always took extra art classes which led me to visit Italy on a spring break trip where I saw glassblowing done for the first time.

How would you summarize your approach to your work and your materials?
My entire studio practice is centered around color and playing. Glass is a very forgiving and very difficult medium, I like to go with the flow of each new product I'm making to make sure I'm not making anything more difficult than I need to while also making sure I'm not compromising the aesthetics.

What’s the hardest thing about working with your hands, and what’s the most gratifying?
The hardest part is the dependence on one part of your body to always function properly in order to keep making, the most gratifying is having a physical object at the end to show for it.

Did you ever have an epic fail, and what did you learn from it?
I've had many along the way but I'm constantly learning to adapt and adjust.

What’s been inspiring you lately?
Nature!! I've always been incredibly inspired by spending time in greenhouses, at the beach and walking around collecting wildflowers.

What’s a typical day like in your studio?
Very busy! and hot! It takes about an hour for everything to get to temperature once I've arrived so I do some prep, meditation and planning for the day/days ahead.

What’s your studio like itself? And what are your favorite objects in the studio?
My studio is a co-op that I work at with a bunch of other wonderful people in an old factory building. My favorite objects are the pieces of art I have from my friends around the space and some sculptural parade pieces we have hiding throughout.

What’s your smoking ritual?
I'm a daily smoker, I vaporize and use tinctures during the day and use glass pipes I've made or gotten from other makers when I get home for the evening.

Tell us what you love about the piece you’ve made for Tetra.
I love the colors and the shape! These are some of my favorite functional pieces I've made yet!

PHOTOS BY KORY GASSER

Meet the Maker: Ceramicist Eleni Kontos

Like most of us, the pandemic had Brooklyn ceramicist Eleni Kontos feeling pretty bewildered last year, so — inspired in part by the 😮 emoji — she began adding an equally bewildered visage to her plates and mugs in response, a series she's since become known for. 

But her fascination with faces goes back much further, to her childhood: "I've always had a compulsion to anthropomorphize inanimate objects; when I was a kid, I used to draw faces and tape them on lamps," she says. "When an object we use has a face on it, we’re more likely to interact with it in a personal way. If my plate has a face, I’m going to give it asparagus eyebrows. If my ashtray has a face, I might ash on it to make hair. So I hope that when people use my pieces, they get a little extra sense of happiness from the swirly colors, and maybe take a moment to mess around."

Her charmingly awkward faces certainly make us laugh each time we see them, momentarily alleviating some of our own anxiety about the state of the world, which is why we were so excited when she accepted our commission to bring them to Tetra in the form of an exclusive ashtray ($45) and storage jar ($80) that will throw you major looks each time you use them. Read on for an interview with Kontos about her creative motivations and current inspirations, below.

SHOP ELENI KONTOS'S WORK ON TETRA


When did you know you wanted to do something creative, and how did you get started in your current practice?

When I was 12 or 13, I brought a book about portraiture drawing on a family trip to Greece. I spent my trip practicing, and something about developing that skill was so satisfying. I pretty much knew then that I wanted to work in the arts. After studying painting, drawing, and printmaking more seriously, I pursued ceramics as a kind of creative outlet from my creative “work." When I was in college, I looked for a place I could work in exchange for studio use, and somehow that turned into working with ceramics for a decade. I feel so lucky that something I started doing just for fun became my job.

How would you summarize your approach to your work and your materials?

It’s mostly playful, and about enjoying the time I spend working. Even if a piece doesn’t work out, I love experimenting, and I love breaking and recycling things that I don’t want to keep. I love playing with and feeling the different textures and sounds of clay while I’m working with it. A fellow ceramicist once told me she loved watching how rough I was with the clay, which I appreciated. I do respect the clay, but I don’t like to be too precious about it.

What’s the hardest thing about working with your hands, and what’s the most gratifying?

I’ve been working with my hands for so long — they truly are my most important tool. Unfortunately that means they take a lot of abuse. The most gratifying thing about working with my hands is having a very tactile, sensory relationship to the things I do every day. On a daily basis, I touch things that feel mushy or gloopy or leathery, and I dip my hands in water so many times. It can be really enjoyable and grounding, for example, to sink your fingers into some really creamy porcelain at a certain stage of recycling. 

Did you ever have an epic fail, and what did you learn from it?

I’ve had so many epic fails over the years. Ceramics can be quite dramatic. But early on in my ceramic career after destroying something I had spent tons of time on (I don’t even remember what it was), a wisened ceramicist told me “If you did it once, you can do it again.” I think of that every time I fail, and it may suck, it may be a ton of work to have to redo something, but it brings me so much confidence (and experience) to know I can do these things again, however complicated it may seem. I also know at this point that redoing something always goes faster, and is also a chance to improve on the first attempt. 

What’s been inspiring you lately?

I've been inspired by plants and flowers lately. I recently bought a book about NYC native wildflowers, which is visually stunning and also full of really cool info about the plants. I also got some room to garden a bit and all the crazy shapes and patterns plants make have brought me so much joy and peace, so I find myself dreaming about sculpting plants and flowers and sculptural plant vessels.

What’s a typical day like in your studio?

I make a cup of coffee, light a special incense, and make a wish or intention for my day there. I love to jump right into making stuff, or unloading the kiln. I also love mopping for some reason, so sometimes I do that to start the day with a nice, clean space. I’ll usually start work with the most daunting or important tasks and save the fun for the end of the day. I have a special chair near the window where I sit and eat lunch. The train goes right by my window and reflects really cool flickering light into my space in the morning. I love being there, so once I get there, it’s hard to leave. I’ll usually head home when I’m exhausted and it’s dark out. 

What’s your studio like itself? And what are your favorite objects in the studio?

My studio belonged to some friends before me, and when I visited them, I thought it was the perfect studio. Around that time my friend told me about visualizing and manifesting, and I though “OK, I’ll use that studio to visualize what I want.” Not too long after that, I found out my friends were looking to pass on the lease, so I jumped it. All that is to say that it felt pretty magical, and I feel so lucky to be in this space I dreamed about. I love to take care of it and try to make it a nice place. It’s a big open room in an old building on a busy Brooklyn street, with two tall windows that the train passes. I love it because it’s big enough to have gatherings, like movie nights, group projects, and classes. There’s half finished projects everywhere. 

My favorite objects in the studio now are my Nespresso machine and an old wicker chair from my mom’s attic. I like to sit in the chair by the window in the morning and sip my coffee while I plan my day.

What’s your smoking ritual?

Once in a while at the end of the day I like to go up to the roof around sunset and smoke and watch the trains go by. Sometimes a friend will join me and we’ll bring some pillows and sit together.