Meet the Crafters: Kara Highfield Ceramics

November 23, 2017 | Halifax Crafters Society

If you’ve been a regular at Halifax Crafters shows, you probably know Kara Highfield Ceramics. Kara has been selling at Crafter’s since 2013 and has almost a decade of experience working with clay. Her pieces are for “the celebratory and the everyday”, featuring stunning geometric patterns and oh-so-dreamy colors! Kara grew up in London, Ontario, where she first fell in love with clay. She came to the east coast to study both ceramics and printmaking at NSCAD , but says she ended up spending all of her time in the ceramics studio. She now works out of her home studio in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, using a stencil process to create her signature pieces “Now I feel I am feeding both passions [printmaking and ceramics] with the decorative stencils I have been applying to the work.” We can’t wait to see all of Kara’s pieces up close and personal- make sure you stop by too!

What do you make?

I make many different styles of cups and mugs, large and small bowls, plates and platters, jars, match strikers/holders and ring holders. Some of these pieces I make in large quantities and others are more one of a kind pieces.

Tell us about your process.

I throw and trim every piece by hand on the wheel in my home studio. For the more decorative work I cut a stencil by hand, or laser cut a stencil I’ve designed on the computer. I apply a layer of coloured slip to the work while it is still wet, then allow it to dry, lay down the stencil and apply another layer of slip. I repeat this process of cutting and applying slip until I am happy with the layers. Then I allow it to set and very gently pull up each layer of paper which reveals all the layers of colour.  I allow the work to dry before bisque firing it, glazing and putting it in the kiln for a final firing.

What parts of the process are most satisfying and most challenging?

Probably the decoration is most satisfying. I layer the coloured slips with my stencils and then peel them out revealing a very precise pattern. Who doesn’t love peeling things?!

There are many aspects of working with clay that can be challenging and time consuming… but that is part of why I love the medium. It can be weeks before you see a finished product. But when you unload that final glaze firing it is like Christmas morning, like opening a treasure chest of goodies! 

What do you listen to while you work?

I always start off the day with CBC One then switch between music and podcasts/audiobooks. I love podcasts! Recent favourites are The Daily, 2 Dope Queens, 99% Invisible, Which Please, Ear Hustle, and many more. When I really need to get a lot done I have all the Harry Potter Audio books on standby.

When you’re not selling at Crafters markets, where can we find your work?

I have been spending most of my time doing large commissions of dinnerware for individuals and restaurants. I have been working with chef and owner of Fleur de Sel Restaurant, Martin Ruiz Salvador, to make one of a kind dishes for his food creations.  

This winter I will be working on a new sculpture project funded by Arts Nova Scotia through their creation grant program. I will be doing a show and artist talk in Lunenburg at the Lunenburg School of the Arts in April or May so stay tuned to social media! 

What are you excited about the Winter Market?

I always look forward to the show as a social event as well as a working one. I live on the South Shore so spending the weekend in the city and having old friends and customers come to visit and catch up is such a fun bonus.

A place you love?

The water! I try to get to the beach, lake or pool as often as I can. It keeps me happy, focused and calm.

Favourite time of the year?

Summer, I love the heat and the long sunny days. 

Three things you need in order to create?

Listening device, warm drink, chocolate.

What’s your favourite way to procrastinate?

Cleaning, gardening and dog walks.