Kimberli Cummings

Interview with Kimberli Cummings

Mayco: Hi Kimberli! It was so fun to meet you at NCECA this year and I wanted to thank you for allowing me to put one of your lovelies in our Mayco Booth Gallery. The Fish Pot was a popular Sounds like your entry into the world of clay was an interesting one. Can you explain?

KC: I became a child actress at the age of 3. That was my world without exception until the last 4 TV shows that I guest starred or appeared on were cancelled. I felt it my duty to retire from the business to give actors a chance to continue working. That was 10 years ago.

Back up; I always felt drawn to clay. My public schools offered NOTHING in the way of clay ever. 20 years ago while passing the famed CLAY FACTORY here in Tampa, Fl. I read their marque; ‘you know you always wanted this so CALL TODAY!’ I felt like God sent me a clear message. My first teacher was Kim Kirchman. Twenty years later, we are part of The Fl. Westcoast Ceramics Society and The Tour de Clay. Potters are similar to stage actors; very supportive and encouraging. Most of my clay friends are full time potters and College art professors. I am the greenest of most. I still am spongelike, sucking any and all info on form, glazing and technique from the best of the best. I prefer to draw and paint on clay because high fire glazing and I never dated and will never marry!

Please take a moment to tell us about your process. How do you incorporate Mayco’s glazes into the work?

Jeannie Paul at Hyde Park Studio watched me agonize for years with underglazes, having to paint 3 perfect coats on each apple and leaf I created. You lose so much light and value by doing this. She found Mayco’s One Strokes and encouraged me to try them. I was able to do 5 pieces in the time it once took me to finish one. I love to layer and use my piece as a canvas. I treat the canvas like watercolor paper. You can’t go wrong, ever! The Mayco colors are so vibrant and true that a third of my work is glaze fired only once, leaving a matte but RICH color finish. Many of my clients custom order them this way.

What inspires your ideas for imagery? Form? Color?

My Mom was a professional artist, a fashion illustrator when I was a little. I have always been a color ‘freak’! I repainted my childhood bedroom all the time, using bright purples. In my adult life, my garden is all I need to inspire me. There are over 55 greens that I’ve counted so far ( are you ready for inspiration for some additional greens???). We have summer 10-11 months a year so I am never at a loss for inspiration. My other is the Gulf of Mexico. The water changes colors as the sun shifts, the sea shells make me feel like I’m 8 years old again and the beach houses are painted in various shades of hot pinks and turquoise and yellows. What’s not to love here???

What my clients tell me is that when I was not happily married, I had a palette of black. 7 years ago, after marrying Bill Cummings, my pallette immediately resembled a color wheel. Need I say more?

Finally, it looks like you have a really close group of clay artist friends in the Tampa area. Would you like to give any shameless plugs to them?

Robert Pipenberg was my first celebrity guide. He taught me all about Raku. I furthered my interest in this with Scott L. Aubrey, who is my current clay coach and for the last 9 years. He is the most under estimated and overlooked potter I know. I studied 2 summers with Paul Soldner and Rudy Autio, as well as one week with Peter Voulkos.

Rudy was my favorite ever! I had a mad crush on him. I think I stalked him for years. He reminded me to be childlike and free with clay and to make pieces that I want to make, never to conform. He used to always say, ‘ Don’t tell me what you want to make, show me what you’ve made!’

My Clay group has an impressive list of potters as well; Ira Burhans,Glenn Woods/Keith Herbrand,McKenzie Smith, Mark Fehl(Kim Kirchman), Peter Streit, Jack Boyle, Harry Welsh and Kim Wellman and Chuck and Linda McGee.

Linda Arbuckle changed it all up on me once more 2 years ago when she taught me the true meaning and history of Majolica. She keeps no secrets but instead gives every idea she ever birthed, away. I am the luckiest for knowing her.