Emily Kiewel creates functional pottery in Charles City, Iowa. Her workshop is located next to her home nestled in a small patch of Walnut and Oak trees near the Cedar River. She has been making and selling functional pottery for close to twenty years. She discovered throwing while in college. After receiving her BA she continued throwing pots on her own. During this time she realized that working with her hands and being creative could be more than just a hobby and decided to make it her career.
She moved to Japan for over two years where she received her most formative training. She was lucky enough to find a potter to teach her. Not just any potter but a third generation production potter immersed and educated in the tradition of forming beautifully crafted functional ware for use in the home. The training was rigorous. Often, a day would consist of forming a single shape hundreds of times over. Each was recycled until a perfect item was created.
The techniques she learned are over 2000 years old. She makes her own tools for each piece in her repertoire. One of these is a "tombo" which is made from bamboo. It is used like a caliper and measures the depth and width of the pot to keep the size consistent. Tombo means dragonfly in Japanese. She also makes a wooden rib for each piece out of cherry wood and uses Japanese trimming tools.
She fires her porcelain and stoneware in a gas fired kiln, usually in a reduction atmosphere, reaching temperatures to over 2300° Fahrenheit. She mixes all her glazes, some of which are her own recipes. Since her pieces are made to be used in the kitchen and home, they contain no lead or other harmful metals and are food-safe as well as safe to use in the microwave and dishwasher.
"I am motivated by the materials I use and my surroundings. I use elemental substances coupled with a spinning wheel and gravity which I influence with my will. All which are primordial and basic. With earth, fire, patterns on a beetle or a tree trunk I create an object that is made to enrich the daily rituals of life."