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Q+A with Frances Palmer

Meet Frances Palmer, one of Annie’s favorite ceramic artists. Frances has been working as a potter since 1987 and has a wonderful approach to her art: “I love the process of changing ideas into form. I don’t make or grow things to hold onto them, but rather to send them out into the world for others to live with and enjoy.”

We think Frances’ elegant vases filled with blooms are the perfect complement to our new Flower Shower collection and recently caught up with her to talk about her work, inspiration and flowers, of course.

1. Where do you seek inspiration?
I seek inspiration from many places. I have a large library of books that I constantly study. I spend a good bit of time in museums and exhibitions looking at work. I find ancient ceramics incredibly fascinating and love to throw pots based on these forms.

Q+A with Frances Palmer | Annie Selke’s Fresh American Style

Photo by: Frances Palmer

2. What is your process in choosing (or pairing) flowers/ceramic pieces?
It is an ongoing dialogue. Sometimes the flowers inspire a pot to hold that particular stem and sometimes the vase speaks out for a bouquet from what is currently blooming.

3. When did you first discover you had a talent for pottery?
I did not start making ceramics until we moved out CT and I had a baby. We were living in NYC but decided to relocate and live in the country full time. I was unprepared for motherhood and for living outside of New York. I started learning to throw at a nearby art guild and fell in love with the process immediately.

4. Can you recall what your first few projects were like?
I wanted to sell my work from the start. My first projects were pots made for Zona, an innovative store in SoHo. Then I made bud vases for Takashimaya’s beautiful flower store, so right away the pots were being used as I envisioned.

Q+A with Frances Palmer | Annie Selke’s Fresh American Style

Photo by: Frances Palmer

5. How has your pottery style evolved over time?
I am known for my white earthenware ceramics, however, my true love is throwing high fire, translucent porcelain. The porcelain tends to be simpler shapes with the emphasis on color and glazes. So I would say that my style has moved in a more minimal direction.

6. How many projects are you typically working on?
I usually have several projects going simultaneously, as the work goes through many stages. All pots require a different timetable, so it is good to have a number of them happening at once.

7. What’s your favorite piece that you’ve ever done?
That is hard to say. I’ve made thousands of pots over the years. The ones that I tend to keep for myself are the ones that went in an unusual direction, or where the glaze did something crazy that I know can never be repeated.

8. What kinds of projects do you recommend for absolute beginners?
Hand building is a good way to begin. Or, if a person wishes to work on the wheel, start with small amounts of clay to get a sense of centering. But it all takes time and so patience with oneself is the most important aspect of beginning.

9. How do you choose backdrops or props for your photography?
I organize the photos that I take in terms of color. I want the photo to have an overall color sensibility, so I look for paint colors that I like for this purpose and paint the canvases myself. The backdrops and props are usually abstract and not a room setting.

Q+A with Frances Palmer | Annie Selke’s Fresh American Style

Photo by: Frances Palmer

10. Which design “rule” or idea do you refer to over and over? Which have you tossed out?
My main rule when working is to follow my design idea to the end – sometimes the work that happens along the way is the best part of this process. I have tossed out the notion that there are “mistakes” in work. I feel there are no mistakes, just alternative solutions.

11. In your opinion, what’s one thing that will never go out of style?
Work that is made with an honest intention of excellence will not go out of style. The artist does her/his very best design and this always comes through in the result.

What about you? What’s one thing you believe will never go out of style?

Check out more of Frances’ gorgeous work on Instagram or on her website.

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