In our new Meet the Maker Series, we will be getting to know the artisans behind all of the wonderful handmade goods we carry in our shop. We feel so lucky to share such a well-curated collection of goods with all of you, and none of this would be possible without the beautiful minds behind these pieces.
Next up in this series, we are thrilled to introduce you to one of our favorite local ceramic artists, Kristen Saksa Juen! Kristen’s vibrant joy and true passion for her work is contagious, and when visiting her studio a few weeks back, we couldn’t help but be inspired by her love of her craft. We loved hearing how she got started, and we know you will walk away inspired by her story.
How did you get into working with clay? Was it something that came naturally to you earlier in life or was it a new love/skill you discovered as an adult?
While studying biology in college I took a couple ceramics classes on the side for fun. My creativity was always something that I thought I would have to satisfy on the side. It took me several more years to have confidence in my artwork, appreciate the value of my creativity and entertain the idea of working as an artist. When I got back into ceramics and started to develop my own style, I started having so much fun I really couldn’t stop.
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working in the studio?
I love to explore nature and be inspired by the beauty of plants and the outdoors.
Favorite taco in Austin? :)
Bring back the El Presidente Fresa’s!
Do you have any past advice from mentors/teachers/professors/friends that really stuck with you that you still apply to your life now?
My dad told me once, do something every day that scares you. He encouraged me to try new things, even when they are intimidating. Those words have kept with me, in life, and in the studio. It’s scary to challenge myself, and sometimes my new ideas don’t work out. But often I surprise myself with what I can accomplish.
Is there anything specific to Austin that has inspired the designs of your work?
I am inspired by the friendly creative community here in Austin. It is a really big leap to jump into starting your own little business. The creative friends I have met here in Austin have given me courage and support to keep going.
Were there any other techniques you tried out before you settled on using primarily slab rolling?
In my first ceramics classes I learned several techniques including hand building techniques, like slab or coil building and throwing on the wheel. Building with slabs of clay was an early favorite for me, but there are still new techniques I am learning about all the time, especially with glazes and ways to fire, so I try to keep learning as I go.
What’s a brand or small business that you love and admire?
I really love and admire my friends Lindsay and Dimitar and their brand Era Ceramics. Together they design and create lovely dinnerware in addition to being some of the friendliest people I know with beautiful spirits.