Archive for the ‘Artist Crush Fridays’ Category

For me, this is probably the most anticipated blog post yet. As a fellow potter, I have a deep appreciation for well-made, unique ceramic art. Last Friday, I paid a visit to Cahaba Clayworks, in Leeds, AL, home of Earthborn Studios, where ceramic artist and owner Tena Payne and a small team of friends and family create hoards of gorgeous bowls, platters, coffee mugs, plates, and tons more for clients all over the country. Her vessels are each unique, organic, and sophisticated.

Just to list a few of Earthborn Studio’s major clients: the flippin’ BELLAGIO in Las Vegas, MGM’s famed Resort & Casino, Treasure Island Resort & Casino, Brombergs, and of course the fabulous Chris Hastings’ Hot & Hot Fish Club in Birmingham.

Tena, who, by the way, is super gracious, gave me a tour of her enormous studio that should probably be given its own zip code. She has done a great job creating a functional studio space and has had some incredible luck finding essential studio equipment at either ridiculously low prices or even free. (Jealous!) Rebecca Sikorski, Tena’s daughter, showed me around Earthborn’s gorgeous gallery space. Jason Ardovino, another integral part of the Earthborn team, helps Tena create over 70 works each workday for clients all over the country.

Jason smoothing the surface of the bowls.

Me: So what’s the latest with Earthborn Pottery? Tena: We’re working on a new line for Hot & Hot Fish Club. Chris Hastings, Hot & Hot owner and award-winning chef, has requested a little bit more of a formal line. So, we’ll be going to an all-white line  using the Vanilla Bean glaze on the dark clay. We are also working on another order for Sushi Samba, a Las Vegas restaurant; we also just got a letter a couple of weeks ago from them requesting a new order for their restaurant in London. This will be a totally different line from what we have at Birmingham’s Hot & Hot Fish Club. 

Bisqued wares. Works in progress.

Me: What inspires you as an artist?  Tena: Primarily the earth. I set out to major in Geology, but that didn’t happen. The clay, though, is amazing. I love the infinite range working with clay offers… there’s no limit but your imagination. I take certain earth elements, rearrange them, and put them in the fire. It’s really amazing and exciting to see what comes out of the kilns.

Earthborn's gallery

Me: So how did you get your start? What was your “big break”?  Tena: I knocked on the back door of Hot & Hot Restaurant in Birmingham. At the time, I was selling growing and shiitake mushrooms to local chefs. Chris Hastings, head chef and owner at Hot & Hot, mentioned that he was looking for some handmade ceramic dishes for his restaurant. So I said, “Well, I’m a potter.”, and then we started talking and I worked with his ideas to create a line of pottery for Hot & Hot. That was about fifteen years ago. That experience taught me that if one restaurant could want an entire line of my pottery, then there must be more.

Me: You have had some incredible success and your work is getting worldwide exposure. What is your best advice for an up and coming artist?  Tena: Focus on a narrow niche. Both in the products you choose to create, and the market to which you sell. Specialize in a small area. Kinda like we learned to write term papers… don’t choose ‘The Middle Ages’, choose a small element like “Breeds of Chickens in the Middle Ages”, or ‘Weaving Practices of Devonshire in the Middle Ages’…. dial down to what it is your really, really love to do…’cause if your successful (and we want to be, right?) you’re gonna be doing a lot of it! There are millions of niche markets!

One of my favorite details that Tena incorporates into her designs is the ammonite imprint. This fossil has a beautiful hellically-spiraled shell shape that makes a very interesting texture in the clay.

Of course I had to take some original Earthborn pottery home with me!! I had quite the hard time deciding which one to choose – all of her work is so beautiful. Any of Tena’s gorgeous pottery would look fabulous in any home!!

For all you SEC and Auburn fans out there…GAME DAY MUGS!

Many thanks to Tena & all of the folks at Cahaba Clayworks for being such kind hosts!


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If you haven’t already heard of Mickey Lynn or own a piece of her gorgeous jewelry, you totally should. Her work is phenomenal – it’s unique, feminine, and best of all, super sparkly. I fell in love with her jewelry three years ago during a trip to Atlanta to visit a college friend & amazing artist, Whitney Wood Bailey, at the Tula Arts Center on Bennett Street’s gallery.

Mickey’s studio was just across the hall from Whitney’s. I peered through the window and the longer I looked, the more schmushed my face became against the glass. I’m sure I left face prints. Sorry, Mickey.

Me: What are you working on right now? Is there a current project that are you most excited about and why?   Mickey: Right now I’m finalizing winter collections and planning a trip to South America to visit the mines where we source our stones from.

Me: You’ve had some awesome success and your creations are selling all over the country! Do you have any advice for working artists on how to get your name and work out there?   Mickey: My advice to working artists is to never give up on the goals you set for yourself. When you hit a wall, (and you will), use your creative skills to figure out other avenues to achieve your goals. Also, network, network, network!

Me: What is it that inspires you to create?  Mickey: The stones I work with are what inspire me to create. I prefer to use designs that allow the stones to speak for themselves. Each stone is truly unique and beautiful, I don’t want to take away from that with a complicated design.

Me: Do you have an artist crush? If so, who is it and why?   Mickey: Whitney Wood Bailey! Ever since I laid eyes on her work, I have been captivated with her creations…I really connect with the way each painting has a balance of organic and controlled technique.

…One of my favorite aspects of her jewelry is her use of materials. She has an extraordinary way with texture, color, shape, and design…all of it, really. Bottom line, her work is fabulous and would make any woman feel beautiful and feminine!


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Vicki is one of my new favorite people. She is cute, tiny, and full of life. Oh and her work. It’s pretty fantastic, too. My husband and I visited her booth at Magic City Art Festival this past weekend and were seriously swooning. Someone, please get me a tissue, my mouth is leaking drool.



“Wanna Be Like You”
Mixed Media on Canvas
24 x 24 x 3

“Painting,  for me,  is a heartfelt passion and becoming an artist is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.  Although I have been inspired by and painted with many artists over the  years,  I am mostly self-taught.



“Neon Trees”
Mixed Media on Canvas
22 x 28

     I continue to aspire to develop my unique style by experimenting with different mediums taken to a whole new level.  I work to create unique pieces by layering the different mediums in a way that will speak to the viewers with excitement and interest.  I have a passion for abstract art,  but also enjoy the occasional change to realism.  My abstract paintings come from within and are rarely preplanned.


Makes Me Smile
Mixed Media on Canvas
48 x 48

 My goal is to create  art that is so powerful that it draws the viewer in with interest, and that the sense of style and sophistication will be shared and appreciated by all.”

– Vicki Denaburg


“Escape 2”
Mixed Media on Canvas
14 x 14

Don’t you just want to JUMP into one of these paintings? BEAUTIFUL! 


You can find Vicki’s work at the following galleries:

Art Alley
109 Broadway
Homewood Al. 35209

Local Color Gallery
1912 Broadway
Nashville Tn. 37203

Vicki Denaburg Art Studio
3400 Cold Harbor Circle
Mountain Brook Al. 35223

Watson Gallery Fine Art & Framing
198 Fourteenth Street
Atlanta Ga. 30318

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Fridays are artist crush day. Recently, Ashley Addair’s work has captured my heart. This etsy artist has got some serious talent. Oh and her story. Not only is she an incredible painter, she’s also a good story teller.

You can visit her lovely shop by clicking here.

“on my back looking up”

“Born to a ballsy moto cross racer and a beautiful trailer park gypsy, each right out of high school, we lived in a van while following Dad’s race circuit until my brother was born. Upon his arrival we settled in a double wide nicknamed “the brown house” at the foot of my grandmother’s hill. For several years, and every childhood summer after we moved, my brother and I ran barefoot with a dozen or so cousins building forts, riding bikes, and catching crawdads in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

After our parents divorced, Mom, my brother, and I went to live in Virginia Beach. We moved at least once a year but we always stayed near the water. Brokenness hung around, but we grew and healed and smelled salt water.

“alignment with the story”

We moved again, and I went to high school in a suburb of Chicago: white collar and wealthy. We stayed culture-shocked and cold for a full year but found our warmth in a few sturdy Midwesterners.

I decided to go to college in Lexington, Kentucky because I wanted to escape the fate of so many college women: to find a suitor and marry him happily ever after. I thought for certain I wouldn’t find that in central Kentucky.

That was the year I would meet Levon and drop out of college.

“from my great-grandmother’s kitchen appliance handbook”

He was charming and handsome and we decided there wasn’t any sense in having separate life adventures any longer. Two months after he graduated we were married. No plan, no money, and a bad honeymoon later we landed in Madisonville, Kentucky where he bill collected and I attended community college. Not the adventure either of us had in mind. We moved to Nashville. Then Knoxville. Levon worked a dozen or more desk jobs while I finished an English degree and half of a Masters in Education. In the last year we moved from Knoxville to New York City to Grace Acres Farm to Virginia Beach to Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico. All to find that actually, we really like Knoxville.

“if your grandma had balls she’d be your grandad”

During our Brooklyn stay I saw a graffiti slogan. In blood red paint it read, “You are not your neighborhood.” I think I understand that the author was reminding us that our worth isn’t measured by the status of our surroundings but I don’t think we can easily separate ourselves from the places and communities we inhabit.

Moving around and seeing things has given me a healthy dose of audacity. There are many ways to live a life; and so I’m trying out a version of my own.”

– Ashley Addair

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