Turning pottery into wearable art
“It kind of feels like we made these necklaces by accident sometimes,” says Ali Gibbons. She and her partner, Scott Reinhard, started making the chunky porcelain and stonewear necklaces last September, not long after they moved from Chicago to Raleigh.
Gibbons is an established ceramicist and painter who worked for Renegade Craft Fair, which holds events across the U.S. and in London, and Reinhard is a graphic designer who worked at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. They moved here so that Reinhard could pursue a masters in graphic design from the College of Design at N.C. State University.
The two saw the move as an adventure and a time to try something new. They began experimenting with the shapes that eventually became the bold porcelain beads that hang from cotton rope, which is hand-dyed by Gibbons.
Not long after their move, they became regulars at the Crafts Center at N.C. State, where access to the center’s gas kiln made extruding porcelain into custom shapes for the beads possible. They credit the support of their work at the center as one reason for their success. “We are in a community of potters here, and very much ‘potter’s potters,’ which is very exciting to me,” says Gibbons.
Gibbons and Reinhard share a passion for art and for the process of making things by hand. “I think the thing I like about it is that we both really don’t have a background in jewelry at all, and I think that’s the nice thing,” says Reinhard. “We’re coming to this area very fresh and purely from what we like from our backgrounds.”
The company they formed is called Shape Shape Shape Shape, with a logo designed by Reinhard.
They say the project was born out of a shared aesthetic and the joy of embracing the experiment. “This was an excuse to try new things, and I think it’s also been a great excuse to build a community or become a part of a community that’s already happening,” says Reinhard.
“Every artist experiences this, but the more you work, the more ideas you have, the more things you learn, which leads to new possibilities,” he says. “That process is just a wonderful thing to get in motion, and this has just been an excuse for that. And if we sell some, that’s great too.”
Shape Shape Shape Shape
The unisex necklaces, which range from $95 to $125, are carried in four stores in the U.S. and Canada, with holiday pop-up shops coming in New York and Michigan. Locally, they are carried at Edge of Urge, 215-110 E. Franklin St., Raleigh.
You can also find them online at shapeshap.es.