Tag Archives: Ceramics

Festival Focus: Meet Natalie

23 Jun

The artist, Natalie Squillante, with her usual smile and some pieces from a recent Anagama firing.

Last Spring, I dropped my then 7-year-old and rather timid daughter off at the Jamestown Arts Center to begin a series of after school pottery classes. By the time the first class was over and I returned, she was hugging her instructor, Natalie, goodbye and smiling widely. With a very real warmth and overall positivity, Natalie, a highly practiced ceramicist, encouraged my daughter — and countless others before and since —  to feel completely at home in her classroom. Though she is dedicated to teaching, lately Natalie has been turning a lot of energy, time and focus towards her own art. She finds the time to paint, draw and make pots at any opportunity of each day. Under a new brand she has created called Nautaleye, her pottery is as distinct and genuine as the artist herself.

Festival Fete: What were you up to this past winter/off-season?

Natalie: I’ve made all sorts of funky connections through the Jamestown Arts Center. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with one of my favorite ceramicists, Chris Gustin, using his amazing hand-built kiln, in South Dartmouth, MA. One of the three chambers is Anagama, a Japanese-style kiln, and is fueled by hand with firewood. I prepare and create work for the kiln throughout the year. Along with a group of talented, dedicated ceramicists, we fired one back in October/November and we’re currently firing another. It’s one of the experiences in my life that I look forward to, build up work for, and put a lot of energy into. Loading the large kiln is truly a communal effort and the firing is about a seven-day process. We continually stoke the fire in eight-hour shifts each. It has really grabbed me by the heart. What happens inside can reflect what’s going on in the atmosphere outside. We fired during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the ash blew just beautifully. I may initially throw the pieces on the wheel — the pots, the cups, the bowls — but I think the true beauty really comes from the kiln itself and in the natural ash glaze that forms on each unique piece.

FF: What’s inspired your most recent work?

N: My inspirations have never really changed; they’ve been staples throughout my life. The things that shine in my mind are nature, plants, the ocean and elephants. I have a deep respect and admiration for elephants: their wisdom, their memory and their spirituality. Love, wonder, beauty, joy and meditation inspire me, too.  Each finds a way onto a canvas, a piece of ceramics, on a piece of paper or a wall on a very regular and daily basis. I’ll be donating a percentage of my sales to Hope Elephants, a small organization in Maine dedicated to the preservation and protection of elephants. It’s a lofty goal but I would love to have an elephant of my own in the future. Since I was a child, I’ve been sort of obsessed with them, but learning of a vet who was able to rescue elephants from harmful environments makes me want to have the space and resources to care for one myself someday.

FF: Does your work with children influence your creations? 

N: Working with kids will always be a part of my life and work because I’m not sure I’ll ever not be a kid myself! It’s a part of who I am. I love every moment of learning, growing, sharing, and creating with them. I share a similar joy, willingness, and enthusiasm to create and learn, with students and children, and that is something that I savor and find inspiring in itself. That energy and process is most influential.

FF: Can you share a bit about your process?

N: One of my favorite and frequently used surface treatments is called Sgraffito. After using this process while I attended Maine College of Art, I found out that it’s Italian for graffiti.  Basically, once I’ve thrown a set  of whatever it is I’m making (a few bowls, planters, cups, serving bowls) I let them dry to a very specific dryness in order to foot them. The foot is at the bottom of a pot and is a sweet, pedestal like feature at the base. Some are ornate and complex, while others are simple or without.  I then apply a stain or underglaze. Here’s where the Sgraffito comes into play.  Using carving tools, I then begin to draw onto the surface carving away the stain or underglaze and some of the clay underneath it. I find Sgraffito creates a playful yet informative and beautiful use of positive/negative, foreground/background, history, and expression. It’s the way I enjoy getting information, a story or image that I may be painting or drawing, onto a ceramic piece.

FF: Have you got a favorite piece?

N: I love each piece for one reason or another. Even if it’s just for whatever phrase or word I’ve written on the bottom, the happy mistake or magic that occurred in the kiln or the memory attached to the carving.  They’re all my favorites; they’re like people to me. Maybe I’ll have a favorite come out of the Anagama soon!

FF: What are your aspirations?

N: I’m attracted to clay, partly, because everything I make is functional. The Anagama kiln was used in the Japanese culture to make pieces to be used by the whole community, since it allows for large amounts of pottery to be loaded and stacked inside. I would love to get people to the point that they can throw their own pottery, so they can start to replace a lot of the junk — for lack of a better word — that we consume and accumulate. I’d like to sort of ‘mass produce’ in a handmade way, making pieces quickly and simply, yet beautifully so that they can be accessible and affordable.


FF: What do you look forward to most about participating in the Newport Art Festival? 

N: This is my first Festival Fete selling work.  I was working with Art Is Smart creating and working with kids at the Creation Stations for past Festivals and I’ll be facilitating crafts at the next Festival Fete (at Emerald Square), which I’m totally looking forward to! I’m stoked to see how my work is received by the public. I love the energy of Festival Fete so I’m also looking forward to the overall feeling that it brings and seeing all the beautiful work that will be there. I hope it’s a huge success for everyone and for Newport.

With artists like this one, how can it not be? Natalie can be contacted through the Jamestown Arts Center for group and private lessons and for arts and crafts based birthday parties. She can be found at the Newport Art Festival this weekend as well as future Festival Fete shows. She can be reached on Facebook, as well. Natalie’s work is displayed at the Art Market at the JAC and she currently has beautiful soap dishes and mixing bowls for sale at Farmaesthetics flagship apothecary on Bellevue Ave. in Newport.

Art Happenings

6 Mar

Let’s hope that winter storm “Saturn” coming up the east coast does not put a damper on these RI art events scheduled for tonight and this weekend! The Warwick Museum of Art currently has a show: “Exploring Digital Arts” juried by Steven Subotnick, a renowned animator and video artist who teaches at RISD. There is an opening reception tonight, Wed. March 6th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

Tomorrow night, Thursday, March 7, 5 – 6 pm at the RISD Museum – Community Music Works musicians perform classical compositions. Information: http://www.communitymusicworks.org. Free with Museum admission.

There is an interesting exhibition at Providence City Arts for Youth that ends on March 15th: Feeding the Fire: A Contemporary Ceramics Showcase featuring some amazing ceramic work by some of Rhode Island’s young artists. Check it out this weekend before the show ends.

Sunday, March 10, 2 – 3:30 pm – Artists on Art: RISD Faculty Biennial Tour: Join RISD faculty, Jesse Burke (Photo) and Kai Franz (Digital Media + Foundation), and Mark Moscone, Director of Campus Exhibitions, for an exploration of the 2013 RISD Faculty Biennial, featuring recent work by the artists and designers who inform RISD’s creative academic environment. Free.

Garden City Art Festival 2013

Garden City Art Festival 2013


Art this weekend: Crafts, Charity and Small Business Saturday in Warwick, Newport & Providence

21 Nov

This month we are talking about shopping local, and preferably hand-made as a way to give to your community. Well this weekend you’ve got a great opportunity to do both at the Ocean State Artisans 22nd Annual Holiday Crafts Festival.

One of the members of Ocean State Artisans, Benjamin John Coleman (who is an amazing origami bonsai artist), shared with me one of the most important missions of the crafts festival:

Our show is a charity fundraiser; all admission receipts are donated to local RI charities. This year we will have volunteers from Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts (RICARES) to help our members with unloading their cars, so RICARES will receive the bulk of admissions receipts. RICARES works to increase retention and prevent relapse among people who transition from active addiction into recovery from addiction.  In other words, RICARES helps people who have stopped using drugs. We also gave Meeting Street School students 500 bags to decorate, and these bags will be for sale at the door.  Meeting Street will also be selling their beautiful holiday cards.

And of course we’ll be collecting food for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.  Normally you’d pay $2 to get into our show, but with a food donation you can get in for just $1.  Last year we collected over 5,000 pounds of food!

The Ocean State Artisans Craft Festival is held at the Community College of Rhode Island‘s Knight Campus in Warwick from 10am – 5pm Friday and 9am – 4pm on Saturday. They have 96 crafters this year, up by almost one third from last year. There is plenty of free parking and it’s in a convenient location to the mall – if you are brave enough for that!

We’ve got amazing items, alpaca sweaters, prints, paintings, aprons, ceramics, innovative jewelry, highly crafted boxes, and gifts galore.  In fact, we’ve got some amazingly innovative, locally made gifts you won’t see anywhere else, at prices you can afford.  So not only will shoppers save money, they’ll feel good knowing that they’ve helped support the local economy.

Here is a video made by the Ocean State Artisans:

Of course, this being the busiest shopping weekend of the year, there are plenty of other events going on this weekend. However, since I’m way behind on my Turkey day cooking and packing, I need to briefly mention two more:

The Newport Art Museum Faculty Holiday Arts & Crafts Sale – Creative, unique gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list – including you! All items are made by Coleman Center faculty. 20% of the proceeds benefit the Coleman Center.
Friday, November 23, 10 am – 4 pm
Saturday, November 24, 10 am – 4 pm
Sunday, November 25, 10 am – 12 pm

The Providence Holiday Market begins on Saturday, November 24th, also known as “Small Business Saturday” created by American Express. Outdoors in “Grant’s Block” at the corner of Union and Westminster Streets, the happy tent city of artisans, farmers and food vendors are there every Saturday from November 24 to December 22 between 11AM and 4PM. Take a break from the malls and shop Westminster Street.

From all of us at Festival Fete, have a very Happy Thanksgiving and stay tuned on Friday for another sneak peak at some of our fabulous artists that will be at Festival Fete’s Holiday Market on Dec. 1st and 2nd – THAT’S NEXT WEEKEND!!

We are very thankful for our sponsor, Snip-its!

East Greenwich Featured Artists!

8 Aug


Earth Inspired Clay Works by Brenda Gaudette    iDazz Custom Designs by Trish Kozub

Brenda Gaudette of Earth Inspired Clay Works loves to create unique function ceramic ware and handmade-framed tile/mosaic art works inspired by earth and other elements found in nature – making each piece truly an original.

Her work both celebrates the rich textures, colors, organic shapes and patterns found in nature as well as includes other traditional, contemporary and symbolic stamped design elements.
In Brenda’s opinion, in order to create a successful piece, one must practice thoughtful aesthetic judgments and strong craftsmanship. – “Even the smallest of works are designed and created with an eye for quality composition and technical skill.”
Check out more of Brenda’s work online today!
Trish Kozub of iDazz Custom Designs has been designing jewelry for 12 years, working mostly with gemstones, pearls and glass but favoring those pieces which incorporate signed brooches and earrings from the 1940s, and shoe buckles and buttons from Paris from the 1890s!
Trish works diligently to accumulate amazing vintage goods, which tend to be her favorite pieces (and her customer’s as well). Trish is influenced by the mere beauty of the beads and vintage pieces because they allow her to  create fun and distinctive collections!
Check out Trish Kozub of iDazz Custom Designs today!
And make sure to come out to the East Greenwich Art Festival on September 1st & 2nd in order to see works by Trish Kozub, Brenda Gaudette and even more of your favorite local artists and entertainers!
If you can’t make it out to the East Greenwich Art Festival this year, we understand! But don’t worry, the Festival Fete Holiday Market is just around the corner – happening at the Garden City Center on December 1st and 2nd!

Pinterest, What’s it all About?

13 May

It’s likely you’ve heard the word Pinterest being thrown about recently. Most likely because it’s the most recent, innovative and fresh way to enjoy social media

Pinterest is an online pinboard that allows you to organize and share your favorite interests with friends & family by “pinning” interesting things from various websites, blogs, other social media, etc.

You can visit the Festival Fete Pinterest to learn about our personal interests, our Art is Smart campaign, featured artists and more…

Art is Smart Board

Garden City Center Art Festival Board

East Greenwich Art Festival Board

See all of our Pin Boards here!

Visit us to Re-Pin, Learn about our interests & events, or simply explore!

And create your own pin board at Pinterest.com today!

Happy Mother’s Day!

See you on June 9th & 10th!

Big thanks to our sponsors for making it all possible!

Support Local Art!

9 May

Saxon Designs by Diane Delgado     Rostina Creations by Eddy Phouthakoun

This June 9th & 10th, Festival Fete will be at the Garden City Center  with Eddy Phouthakoun, Diane Delgado and more fabulous local artists for the 2nd annual Garden City Center Art Festival!

Come join us for days full of beautiful local art work, entertainment, food, free kids activities and MORE!

Live entertainment by The Toe Jam Band & The Big Nazo!

“Like” Festival Fete on Facebook to receive important updates regarding our upcoming art festivals!


The East Greenwich Art Festival

Happening September 1st & 2nd at the new NE Tech Campus located on Division Road in East Greenwich

You won’t want to miss this!

We would love to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful sponsors!

Do Your Part To Support Local Art!

2 May

Kewt! By Keelia Kentor      Heart2Heart Design by Kyle Kochiss

This June 9th & 10th, Festival Fete will be at the Garden City Center for the 2nd annual Garden City Center Art Festival!

Come join us for days full of beautiful local art work, entertainment, food, free kids activities and MORE!

Live entertainment by The Toe Jam Band & The Big Nazo!

“Like” Festival Fete on Facebook to receive important updates regarding our upcoming art festivals!


The East Greenwich Art Festival

Happening September 1st & 2nd at the new NE Tech Campus located on Division Road in East Greenwich

You won’t want to miss this!

We would love to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful sponsors!