About Tabbatha Henry
I have been working in clay since I was a little thing and made my first sculpture, an ice cream sundae, followed closely by a pair of owls on a log, both of which are still in my collection!
I studied ceramics in earnest during college, then spent the next 10 or so years honing my technical skills during studio exchanges and work studies in private and community studios. Finally, after learning what I could through sheer trial and error, (still the best teachers, I believe) yet still yearning for serious feedback and aesthetic criticism, I went back to graduate school. I received my MFA from the School for American Crafts at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2005. Ready to take on the world, I moved back to Vermont soon after, and in 2008 launched Tabbatha Henry Designs.
The process of ceramics has fascinated me since my Intro to Ceramics class in college (or, judging by those owls, even longer than that). When working in clay, the first thing one might notice is a dialogue that emerges between themselves and the clay. Whether trying something for the first time, or making something for the 100th time, there must exist an understanding between maker and material. Really, it is the maker who must come to understand the material, but through doing so, the material becomes limitless. My challenge, and perhaps everyone's who has ever worked in clay, has been to find the sweet spot between my needs and the capabilities of the material. If the clay does not abide, then I, my approach, or my attitude, must work around it. The process can be humbling and challenging, and keeps me on my toes. Once I find that place though, the only limit is my imagination and willingness, or not, to succumb to the material.
I am, of course, inspired by the winter landscape here in Vermont. The ever-changing subtleties of light and shadows and the resulting shapes and patterns are a constant source of awe. Hiking through the woods and noticing the intricacies of the moss, the composition of leaves fallen on the ground now covered with frost, dark branches against the grey sky as they splay out from the trees, or the path of the half frozen river…though I have seen these things a million times, somehow it is always new and magical, as if for the first time.
The influence of nature in this way, along with my love for the simple clean lines of Scandinavian design, inspires me to make beautiful objects that even the most discerning animal would have in its den.
when I first heard this phrase used by another ceramic artist to describe herself, I was awestruck. she meant that she was more in tune with objects than with people. while she didn’t elaborate, she didn’t have to. I knew exactly what she meant, as this was the description I had been looking for my entire life! it gave me reassurance to know that I was not alone in choosing objects over people, and it was freeing and empowering. I finally had a place to hang my hat.
its no surpise that I chose to pursue life as a maker of objects. growing up I was surrounded by a family who appreciated and cultivated the love of objects. we existed with beautiful and well crafted antiques passed down generation after generation. we dined with elaborate silver and glass for special occasions, we walked on oriental rugs that were threadbare from footsteps of those who went before. my mother has elegant, traditional taste, and every room is thought out down to the last detail. my father, a bit more eclectic, would drag home carnival ephemera from days gone by, to my mother’s chagrin. my uncle taught me about great art, hanging the modern masters on his walls, and collecting tongue-in-cheek items such as a 3 foot tall marble replica of baldaccini’s famous thumb sculpture in paris.
as I look upon the objects that I surround myself with, I see they all carry from my predecessors. the midcentury modern glass menagerie I inherited from my grandfather. my grandmother's cameo bracelet that I’ve hung on my wall. my father’s old leather chair, well worn and sturdy. the antique silver forks with crazy, elegant shapes…I don’t even know what they were used for, but as objects they are lovely just on their own.
clay has always had a special place in my heart. from a young age I resonated with the material, and it has held my interest ever since I made 2 little owls sculptures on a piece of wood, in, like, the second grade. as a material it is always full of potential and challenges. tactile and physical, I love the process of working with clay. there is a dialogue that develops between maker and material that seems to fit right into my object-orientation. with clay I can have a discussion, we can go back and forth about it, and, if i listen just so, it can speak to me in a way no other material can.
it is from this place of reverence that I make objects for you. I want to embellish your life with beauty, elegance, and, adding my own twist to things, elements of the natural world. I want to create things that will bring you joy for years to come. objects you will love, and pass on to others. It is our goal to bring you these revered objects: inspiring designs infused with nature, crafted with integrity.
Each piece is made by hand in our Vermont studio. Assisted by Cadence Shae I cast, decorate, fire, and ship from an old grist mill, overlooking an ever-changing river in Northern Vermont. We do our best to create unique and inspiring works of art to be enjoyed for generations to come.