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SKT Ceramics, Cincinnati

Ceramics artist Susannah Tisue makes everyday ware meant to inspire and calm.

Susannah Tisue made her first drawings at age 3, and to this day, she always keeps a pen close at hand.

“Creating those kinds of drawings is a very precise skill,” she says. “Since one image can take hours to complete, drawing also involves a certain level of endurance that’s almost meditative.”

Although Tisue no longer fashions the fairies that captivated her as a child, the Cincinnati resident has turned her artistic talent into a full-time business. In 2006, Tisue launched SKT Ceramics. In her studio located in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood, Tisue and her staff of seven other artists craft a line of durable tableware that’s silk-screened with her original drawings of scenes from nature. (The S and T are her initials; the K stands for Knapp, her great-grandparents’ last name.)

The idea for SKT Ceramics was sparked after Tisue graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree from New York University and landed a residency at Greenwich House Pottery, a nonprofit ceramics studio in New York. In between crafting her own pieces, she mixed clay and glazes, fired kilns and taught pottery-making to classes of students ranging in age from 5 to 95.

“After that experience, I knew I wanted a job where I received constant feedback from people about my work,” she says. “Although the challenges of owning a business can be very frustrating, they are also very inspiring. I like the fact that I can reinvent the wheel on a weekly basis in terms of the work I put out and enjoy pushing myself to take on new challenges.”

Each of Tisue’s pieces — ranging from a $22 jewelry dish to a $250 teapot — is made from English porcelain. After mixing the clay, the artist throws the pieces on a potter’s wheel or sculpts them by hand. Working in a palette of celadon and icy white glazes, Tisue then silkscreens one of 89 original designs on the piece. Two favorites, the bear and the fox, date back to her days in New York where, as she explains, “animal encounters are few and far between,” but Tisue also takes customer requests. Over the years, they’ve included a bison to commemorate a trip out West. 

“I love creating functional pieces that will last a lifetime,” Tisue says. “They are designed to take people out of the hustle and bustle of daily life into a landscape that is quiet and calming.” 

For more information, visit sktceramics.com.

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