The Norcross Art Fest is just around the corner for Oct. 6-7, and Norcross Patch is profiling different vendors for the 2012 festival.
Toni Macri-Reiner is a fine craft artist who uses clay vases to create sculptures. Before the fest, Patch asked her about her inspiration, pieces of work and heroes.
Under what genre is your art classified as? My art is considered fine craft. It takes special skills and specialized tools to create, a kiln, a potters wheel and a slab roller.
How would you describe your art to a complete stranger? My work consists of hand-thrown terra cotta clay vases. When these are dry enough to handle, I trim the bottoms & sides to give them a certain shape. I then sculpt a face on them, attach a piece of clay to the top of the vase fashioning it to look like a turban. I then make & attach a couple of flowers to the turban. When these are completely dry, several coats of glaze are applied to the turban. I then paint some kind of fun design over the glaze, leaving the face free of any covering. They are then fired to about 1950 degrees. That was the long answer.... I make vases that look like women's faces wearing turbans & real earrings. They are fully functional as vases, planters, wine bottle holders & have many other uses.
How long have you been producing art? As a child I took classes in clay... won a ribbon in my city wide CYO hobby show! I've always been fascinated by clay... how you can work with something in one form and then by heating it , the material totally changes into something totally different. I'm a very practical person , so Iike making things that are fun, but useful.
How did you first get started in art? In the 1980s I began pursuing my career by doing local shows, not traveling too great a distance. In the 90s I started traveling farther for shows venturing as far as South Florida. (I'm from Indiana.) My daughters were often helpers on the road. Learning everything from salesmanship, marketing, map reading and changing flat tires! My husband has been a full time musician for the last 40 years, working on most weekends he is only able to offer the occasional help on the road. In the last several years I've done as many as 28 shows a year from Michigan to Florida and from Oklahoma to New York. Whimsy has always attracted me because I love to view the world in a sort of off kilter way.
Who are your art heroes? My real artistic heroes are the everyday people that work with clay because they love it. Sometimes they struggle to make a living. But the magic of opening a kiln after a firing and seeing if the kiln gods blessed you with interesting unbroken work keeps them working with clay.
What is your favorite piece in your own collection? Why? I have a few pieces of my own that I really like. A couple of really large turban girls with good colors, of which I am particularly fond. Mostly after I have handled them many times, I am ready for them to find good homes. My favorite ceramic pieces are made by others. Techniques that I don't myself do.
Do you have a website? My website is toniware.com. I ship work all over the country.
Where do you live? I live in Indianapolis In in a large house near downtown. My studio is in my house which I like.
Are you a full-time artist, or do you have another occupation? I have been making and selling my ceramics full time for about 28 years. Recently I became a hypnotist. I now have an office and see clients, who want to make changes in their lives. Pain, smoking cessation, weight loss and phobias are just a few of the many issues that respond well to hypnosis. I think it fits well with being an artist. Inducing trance is easily learned. The artistry comes after that.
How many times has your art been featured in the Norcross Art Fest? I've been in the Norcross art fair for several years now. I like it because of the friendly people.The event organizers, Cindy & Francis are the best. The artists are treated well, which isn't always the case at every show. Doing a lot of shows you make friends with other artists, especially the ones you are set up next to during the show. You might feel like best friends afterwards. Sometimes you see them often & other times only once a year. When you do see each other there are now "daily duties to attend to. Going out to dinner with friends is a favorite thing to do. One thing I've always enjoyed about art fair friends is that it's not like other in town friends, you can enjoy their company but yet never have to clean your house & have them over!
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