Jill Burns: I studied painting in college and after graduating went to work in the museum field. I was the registrar at the Worcester Art Museum, which was a wonderful environment for inspiration. Not only was I exposed to the great works in the gallery, but my favorite places were the storage areas. Lots of treasures there. I took ceramics classes several years later and was hooked!
Jill Burns: I have been working in ceramics for over 20 years. About 12 years ago I was an artist in resident at the Worcester Center for Crafts so I could devote full time work at my craft. At the end of that I was awarded the Worcester Arts Council Fellowship. It was a marvelous validation to what I was doing and it gave me the courage to start a ceramic studio called the Fire Works, a suite of studios and shared equipment for ceramic artists.
BH: Tell us a little bit about Early Bird Designs. How did you come up with name?
Jill Burns: Early Bird Designs is my line of functional pottery and personal accessories. I am, in fact an early bird. Always have been. I could never sleep late even though the teens years. Plus I think it reflects the sort of fresh and playful take on the porcelain work that I have been doing for the past few years.
BH: Tell us about your work. How is it made and what are your inspirations?
Jill Burns: Most of the pieces start as porcelain slabs and are formed into functional ware, such as cups, platters, vases etc. When the clay has stiffened I inscribed a design and inlay a dark slip. That forms the base drawing, so subtle color can be added later in the process. The ware is very durable and can be used everyday and is fine in the dishwasher and microwave. Images are lively versions of grandmother’s bone china and 18th-19th animal and plant engravings. It is a marriage of my early training as a painter, with my love of clay.
BH: What can we expect from you in the next couple of years?
Jill Burns: I am always creating new forms and designs, but I have been thinking about doing a pottery subscription of some kind. Maybe a “Cup-of-the-Month”! I also have a small line of porcelain jewelry and accessories and I’d like to expand that as well. I usually post updates on my Facebook page, so check it out. www.facebook.com/Earlybirddesigns