Karen Gayle Tinney combines ceramics with fibre to create stunning vessels and wall art from her home studio in Long Beach, California. After studying Product Design at Parsons School of Design in NYC, Karen spent 7 years designing home products - from floor tiles; to dinnerware; to decorative accessories, before she decided to step back and focus completely on her own work.
It was during her career designing home decor that Karen started to think about mixing fibre; a material she was already interested in, with ceramics - noticing that it was rare to mix these two mediums. Karen started to take ceramic classes to introduce her to techniques and from there she began experimenting in combining the two.
The work that Karen creates often take shape as beautiful vessels, with handbuilt ceramic components built piece-by-piece; smooth and glazed, assembled together with fibre counterparts; textured and tactile. The process and labour are evident in the final pieces, and it's no surprise to find out that some pieces take months to complete, when you see how Karen painstakingly weaves cotton and tencel around a cotton polycore to create fibre coils that sit amongst the ceramic.
As well as these towering handbuilt vessels, Karen creates smaller pieces for the home comprising of vases, shaped ceramic wall pieces with tassels adorning them, and smaller decorative ceramic bowls; topped with her signature coiled fibres.
Focussing on the combination of ceramics and fibres, Karen's explorations look at how she can use these materials together "in harmony to either make them look/ act like one another (and therefore visually defy their physical properties)" or use them to create something a "stark contrast to one another." This material combination is always where the work begins, and it develops from a desire to push the boundaries of a technique or the capabilities of the material. Shapes of vessels continue to get more and more complicated, as she pushes further.
Karen tells us that she takes inspiration from the shape and form of traditional and ancient vessels that are discovered through her visits to museums and galleries. Colours and textures are often inspired by nature.
One of a Kind collections are released through the artist's website periodically and are composed of large scale sculptural objects and wall decor. Karen's “standard collection” which includes smaller scale, functional pieces and decorative objects are available on her website and through a selection of boutiques that you can find listed here.