Karen is a resident of Hudson, WI (native Minnesotan) who has a love for the art of the Southwest. She has always been drawn to pottery made by the native people of Mexico and the Southwestern United States — particularly the smooth feel and rich color of the highly polished black pottery and the carvings and textures used to decorate the vessels. A potter for over 30 years, 1999 marked a style shift from wheel thrown vessels to the hand built, burnished pottery native to the southwest and Mexico. This included studying with master potters from Colorado and Mexico, where she learned the native traditions including: making clay, coil building, polishing and firing.
From making clay to using unique firing processes, the creation of Sebesta pottery is a labor-intensive partnership with her husband, Dave. To attain a smooth clay body, Dave produces several colors of clay which are utilized for high polish and black-fired pieces. Over the years, Karen has studied various pit-firing processes for blackening the pottery and using horse-hair to create singed lines on the light-colored pieces. In addition to these techniques, Karen has also developed her own firing process to achieve rich, earth-tone finishes. To compliment the pottery, Dave creates unique steel and leather display stands.Karen’s work can be found in galleries in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
I create pottery that is hand-built using a very ancient coiling method or other hand building techniques. Depending on the size, design and finish, these pots can take anywhere from a few hours to several days to complete.My pots are hand polished rather than glazed, producing a very unique finish and enhancing the natural beauty of the clay. With this process, I use low fire clay that is very smooth and in order to achieve a very high gloss polish on my black, red, or light yellow pots, I produce my own clay. I use deer bones, steel and stones for a high-gloss finish or nylon for a satin finish. Because my pieces are not glazed, they cannot hold liquids or be used for food. If desired, dried grasses, flowers or sticks may be used in the vases.
I fire pots in my kiln using a reduction technique that replicates the pit firing method used in Mexico and pueblos of the American Southwest. The pots are placed inside an oil drum in the kiln with sawdust and then fired to approximately 1500 degrees, which burns the sawdust and evenly blackens the pottery inside and out.
After an oxidation fire I apply single strands of horse hair, which burns into the pot. This creates the beautiful “lightning strike” lines and shading.
After an oxidation fire in the kiln, the pot is fired in an outdoor pit using a variety a materials to give subtle variations of earth tone colors.
Handling and Care:
Before the pot becomes leather hard, I use a blade to press indentations around the pot creating a detailed pattern.
Pottery Handling and Care
As with any valued art piece, fine pottery requires a few simple steps to maintain their integrity. Some works of pottery are more delicate than others, but certain preventive measures should be taken.Although my pottery may look shiny, it is hand-polished, not glazed. The pottery is for display only. It should not come in contact with food or liquids. Handle with clean, dry hands.When moving pottery, support the object evenly using both hands. Avoid lifting the piece by the rim or an edge.Keep your pottery out of direct sunlight. Ultraviolet light can cause damage and is cumulative and irreversible. If your pottery is on display near a window, close your blinds or curtains during the day to minimize exposure.Use a soft cloth or feather duster to clean the pots. Never use any cleaning solutions on your pottery as they will be permanently damaged.
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