Clay artist Julie Schnell Madden likes the idea that something you wipe off your shoes can be turned into something exquisite. In her ceramic work, the Virginia artist does just that.
The artist: The Toledo native earned an undergraduate degree in ceramics from Ohio University and two masters’ degrees in ceramic and sculpture from Bowling Green State University. She has taught at several universities, including Mississippi State and Bowling Green.
In 2018, she moved to Charlottesville, VA, where she works and teaches at City Clay, an independent clay studio.
The goods & materials: Functional and decorative clay pieces.
What’s popular: Mostly mugs ($38) and bourbon cups ($30), which she calls “Bad Day Bourbon Cup” because the cups hold a lot of bourbon. Most of the cups/mugs are raw burnished clay on the outside with a glaze on the inside and on the handles.
What is burnishing: A technique in which the surface of the clay is compressed (with a shell in Madden’s case) to allow the surface to feel polished after firing.
Other favorites: Perforated votive candle holders ($20 and up), which are burnished on the exterior and feature a silver metallic interior glaze.
Inspiration: Lately, the dark chocolate brown clay material itself.
“It is absolutely sexy and luscious with a creamy, satin finish,” she said. “And because of all the iron in it, the glazes can just pop. I used to throw porcelain and this has a similar feel.”
Awards/honors: Over the years, many international and national exhibits and awards, including a Palmer Scholarship from the Toledo Museum of Art to travel to New Zealand to study how indigenous artifacts were used in teaching.
Claim to fame: Her work is held in the Meridian Museum of Art in Mississippi and the permanent collections of Bowling Green State University and Ohio University.
Fun requests: In undergraduate school, trying to outperform classmates, she made a set of clay bongo drums for a friend who stretched rabbit skin across the top to create a drumming surface. Also created 40-inch-tall barstools.
What’s new: The Covid series of platters accented with ribbons of clay. The ready-to-hang bowls ($250) are two inches deep by 18 inches wide. The Covid platters are pictured on the top right and on the bottom row.
Side gig: Occasionally, open mic nights at comedy clubs.
Where to buy: www.julieschnellmadden.com
Get social at: juliemaddenclay on instagram