Brittany Helms

Brittany first made a connection with ceramics as an Undergrad by experimenting with a wood kiln. Most of her work is derived from manipulating clay structures. In her soap-dish pieces, Brittany turned to Mayco’s Stoneware glazes for a variety of colors and opacities that were user friendly and consistent in different kilns and firings.

Interview with Brittany Helms

Mayco: Please tell us about yourself–what’s your background and how have you ended up where you are today?

Brittany Faye Helms was born and raised in China Grove, North Carolina. She received her B.F.A. in Ceramics from East Carolina University in 2009. After graduation, she continued wood firing as a year-long artist in residence at The Cub Creek Foundation in Appomattox, Virginia. In the fall of 2010, she attended Southern Illinois University of Carbondale for a post-baccalaureate to explore earthenware. Shortly after, she enjoyed being a year-long artist in residence at The Red Lodge Clay Center and used her time there to prepare and apply to graduate school. In May of 2016, she completed her Master’s in Ceramics at The Ohio State University. Currently, Brittany Faye Helms is a lecturer at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

Where did your interest in ceramics come from?

Honestly, I took a class in undergrad and really struggled with the material. I spent all my time trying to improve. Ceramics seemed to be everywhere, the more I saw and learned the more I wanted to experiment with. Then I was introduced to the wood-kiln, it was so physical and community-driven, I felt connected to a rich history of makers. That really sealed the deal!

How would you describe your style of work, the materials you use and how you’re inspired?

I carefully form and accumulate multiples, finding comfort in the plenty. Using the multiples to build quickly and directly, I intend to use clay sympathetically and to expose its raw and malleable qualities. I use and misuse the visual language of pottery, manipulating structure and abstracting the familiar. Masses of earthenware adjust to these transgressions, making compromises that reflect the body’s systems of counterbalances. In this reflection of movement, proportion, and scale these compositions become bodies that enact similar processes to my own. Losing fleshy resiliency the soft vegetal abundance dries and becomes brittle. These objects are vehicles by which I come to understand myself.

What are you favorite Mayco products to use? How do these products show off your work??

These pieces (soap dishes) were a commission and are definitely different than my usual work. I do not typically use much glaze and consider myself better with form than the surface. When I received the request asking for a wide variety of color I knew I might need a little help. After looking through the Mayco catalog it seemed like a great solution. I could avoid all the dread of mixing and testing recipes. Knowing my form, I selected some stoneware glazes that broke nicely in a variety of colors and opacities. The glazes were so wonderfully consistent, different firings, different kilns, no problems!

What effect do you want your work to have on people??

I want these soap dishes to be easy, well-functioning, quiet.

Who is your ceramics “hero”, or an artist that you really look up to?

Pattie Chalmers, Jill Foot-Hutton, Rebecca Harvey All wonderful people that have a way of making that is so honest and not self-conscious. It is careful and messy. I also love looking at architecture Borromini, Michelangelo and Hawksmoor are a few of my favorites. Their working is similar to my taste in ceramics, there is such skill that they play with the rules of the material/ conventions or just gracefully ignore them.

In addition to creating your own ceramic art, what are your hobbies?

I really enjoy yoga and rearranging my furniture (I am not sure if that is a hobby for most but it is with the frequency I do it!) 🙂

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Macedonia/ Greece, My partner’s family is from there. I would go for the pottery, the architecture, the food, the landscape

What would be the ultimate gift someone could give to you?

I think Time is the ultimate gift. Each residency and university I have attended provided the time to really commit to my studio practice. Now that I adjunct two classes and have a part-time job I realize what a gift time is.