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Stencils hanging from a clothing line

My creative process proceeds not from form to surface design, but in reverse. I begin with the development of a graphic pattern, which is created and refined using Adobe Illustrator. I play around with scale, layering, and color until I have a design I love. The pattern is the jumping-off point for the creation of the object.

My patterns are derived from an abundance of influences, including Islamic architecture, Eastern European textiles, Japanese woodblock prints, and traditional American quilt designs. The process of bending and stretching a traditional motif into new and surprising patterns is part of the joy of beginning a new piece for me.

What is Slip Printing?

Vibrantly stained slips are stenciled onto flat sheets of clay, and later formed into three-dimensional objects.

Slip printing process

I get color inspiration from a variety of places, in particular the seasonal changes in my garden, as well as color combinations that I find myself drawn to in textiles, tile work, or other forms of art.

Once I have finalized my pattern and color palette, I develop form using traditional hand building techniques such as slab or coil construction. My forms frequently mirror elements of the pattern, for example in the shape of the handle or the curve of the belly. These unique hand-built forms become molds, which are used in the creation of each one-of-a-kind vessel or object.


For a detailed breakdown of my process, read this article.

Heidi Tarver working on the Ribbons piece
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