Maven Muse-Alexandria Cummings
Alexandria Cummings is an amazing ceramicist and co-runs a community ceramics studio in Portland, Oregon. We are thrilled to be carrying her line of ceramics here at Maven, which make perfect holiday gifts. We got the chance to ask our muse some questions and we were delighted to learn more about her work, inspirations, tattoos, and her cute pups. Take a look!
Why did you start your own business?
I had always dreamed about being a full-time ceramicist or owning a gallery/shop but never imagined actually doing it! Growing up, my great grandma was a professional potter while my great grandpa was a jack of all trades including woodworking, printmaking, hand lettering, iron and metal work. They started a pottery studio and shop in 1966, so pottery, art and craft in general were always around. I wound up graduating with a BFA in Ceramics + BA in Art Education from Western Michigan University in 2007 where I was making big funny colorful non-functional sculptures. Fast forward several years... I was working for a design studio here in Portland where I started making enough money that allowed me to invest in a wheel, kiln and studio space where I started messing around and re-teaching myself to throw. A local shop started carrying my work and I found myself in the studio more and more and ultimately needing to make the decision to really go for it full-time or hang back. Long story short, I decided to go for it and am so glad I did! I think it made my great grandma pretty happy, we still chat now about her history in ceramics, troubleshoot kiln or glaze errors or just shoot the shit (she's 95!!). Now, I love when people post photos or send sweet notes - making people happy with my ceramics makes me happy :)
What’s been your favorite collaboration?
I'm not sure if this counts as a collaboration but I just completed a full dinnerware set for a super sweet duo that I couldn't be happier with the results. I visited their home which is in a barn they renovated on a beautiful piece of property outside of the city. They even had horses which are my favorite <3 We caught up, nailed down designs and colors - the project was fun and I love making things for peoples homes. Oh! Also! I've been loving working with the restaurant Tusk here in Portland, they're the nicest people to work with and man do they make the best food.
What inspires your design?
This one is so hard! I wish I had a better, more profound answer, haha, but really I think its a variety of simple things: food / people / function / in the moment / every day life / etc.. For example, I had dinner at a pals house and saw the stack of dishes near the sink growing and growing... Amongst the stack was a pebbled blue and white cutting board, a pomegranate halved with the seeds still in it and half a lemon squeezed and I thought, those colors are stunning, I'll need to make something using them.
Could you tell me more about Hey Ceramic Studio?
Hey Studio is a shared ceramic space that I started with my dear friend Dina No who is also a full-time ceramicist. We lease an amazing warehouse in NE Portland, built out a little gallery space, dedicated workspaces and a kitchenette. We provide people with storage, wheels, kilns/firing and ceramic partytimes - its turned into a pretty sweet little family.
Your dogs, Curry and Snack, are adorable. Can you tell us more about them? What’s it like having them in the studio? Why did you name them Curry and Snack?
Thank you! They're pretty funny. Curry and Snacks have such different personalities but have slowly become pretty attached to one another over time. They're totally the studio guard/alert dogs barking at everyone that comes through the door, needless to say its a bit embarrassing, haha. Snacks will find the weirdest places to set up and snooze for the day whether it be on a pile of clay boxes or on the second shelf of the storage bench, either way, providing a lot of laughs. Curry's always trying to "share meals" with people or climbing on their laps for snugs. I got Curry about 7 or 8 years ago, she was a scrappy lil stray in Fresno before I got her. Thai coconut curry is my all time favorite food and we were cooking a lot of it back then. She's that perfect curry color, so Curry it was. I've had Snacks for almost 3 years, also a stray but found running in and out of traffic here in Portland. I really just wanted to name a pet Snacks and he was the next guy in line. Love them both so much <3
We’re also in love with your tattoos. Which tattoo is your favorite?
Yay! I love tattoos! The current favorite is my newest addition, a pretty lady portrait with a creepy skull done by mega badass babe, Alena Chun at Icon. Alena's been doing a lot of my tattoos lately and each new one turns into my favorite, she continues to blow me away with her ideas, attention to detail and work, feel so lucky to be tattooed by her. Additionally, my left sleeve is all my great grandfathers artwork that was interpreted and tattooed by another Portland artist/tattooer. I was so close with my great grandfather and love having his work with me always.