We Ashleys have a firm business rule: we only work with nice people. Everything you buy from us not only represents our Retro Den commitment to beautiful aesthetics, but it speaks for the hard work of someone who is nice. You're supporting the success of local goodness. And today, we are happy to share with you about the lovely potter we work with, Suzanne Burden. Enjoy this question and answer session with her below.
Where are you from? Born in Georgetown, Texas, I've called many places home. From way down South, all the way up to the Pacific Northwest. My immediate family now lives in Northwest Arkansas, and I've spent a good deal of time there. It's an area I'm glad to have ties to.
How long have you been working in ceramics/what is your history? My history with clay dates all the way back to mud pies in the backyard as a little girl. I've always had a longing to work in clay, but I didn't truly begin pursuing my love for the craft until college, and even then it took some time before I accepted what it was I truly wanted to do. It's been 10 years now since I made the leap, but only in the last few years have I begun to find direction. That can be the hardest part and it is an ongoing journey.
Why is this your medium? Clay allows me to explore my interests in texture and the tactile. I love its flexibility, strength, and permanence, transitioning in and out of different states of being. I also love how it challenges me conceptually–from the basic idea of a vessel to the simple textures and patterns I play with in my work. Clay allows me to create sculptural and utilitarian objects, it is a medium that allows me to connect visually, physically, and conceptually with my work.
What inspires you? The everyday inspires my forms from the magnolia pods that cover my deck, to my obsessive collection of seashells during my time in North Carolina, my Mother's vintage tablecloths, and the simple, repetitive dash, dash, dash in the middle of the road. I love textures, patterns, basic lines, and shapes that continue over and over. There is not a moment in my day that I don't discover a pattern, texture, or form that I want to play with and incorporate. It is an epic battle to keep my mind grounded in daily tasks outside of ceramics, and to not become overwhelmed by the barrage of ideas running through my mind.
What do you enjoy about collaborating with our shop? First off, who wouldn't want to work with the Ashleys? Retro Den is not following the commercial, mass produced side of design and home decor. It's about preserving history and telling a story, creating a dialogue in your home that reflects you. It can be overwhelming to open your mind to a creative thinking process; they are providing the elements for people to create a space that reflects them. I have spent most of my life moving, I've lived in many homes, but it was never the house itself that held any meaning for me, but the people and items placed within. I love the concept behind what they are doing–create meaningful spaces, live your life on a beautiful background.
Why is art important in the home? The art you place in your home does not have to be some high end painting or large sculpture. As long as the piece speaks to you–that is the most important thing. It can be as simple as a ceramic mug, a quilt your Grandmother made, the picture your child drew all coming together to create layers of color, texture, and history. Art creates conversation and adds to the tapestry of your day to day living, why wouldn't you want the space you dwell in to tell a story, your story.
Why do you love Tulsa right now? I've only been in the Tulsa area a year, but it's obvious there are big things going on while still maintaining a great local, small town vibe. Tulsa is a city, but there is a sense of community. I'm excited to be a part of that, a community.
"Art creates conversation and adds to the tapestry of your day to day living, why wouldn't you want the space you dwell in to tell a story, your story."
Follow Suzanne on Instagram: @mudhousestudio