sullivan owen headshot

Sullivan Owen

Associate Artist - Current

After leaving the world of retail environment design, I founded my own floral and event design studio in Philadelphia ten years ago. With clients unable to gather during the ongoing pandemic, I found myself on sabbatical. I had long kept sketches of vessels for floral designs that I wished I could find and took a class in Mold Making & Slip Casting at The Clay Studio in July 2020.

I have a fine arts and 3D design background but mold making and casting were entirely new to me, I found the process challenging and unlike any handbuilding or wheel throwing I had done in the past. I enjoyed the work so much that I joined the Associate Program in December 2020 with the intention of developing a collection of floral vessels primarily for home décor use.

My current process begins with sketches of floral design shapes that I enjoy making. I then imagine what sort of vessel would contain the flowers and water and begin sculpting a soft clay model to mold. I love the process of designing an undulating form, often taking inspiration from fashion and flowing fabric and then casting the mold to capture the details in a thin shell of porcelain slip. Slip casting allows a delicacy in the ware that is hard to achieve in other ceramic processes in my opinion.

Because each piece is designed for use with actual flowers, I pull, cut, twist and ruffle some of the edges of my pieces which allow flowers to fall gracefully over the rims. I developed my own porcelain slip body that casts well but is flexible enough to stand up to the additional manipulation and can be cast very thin allowing pieces to feel airy and translucent like sheer fabric. The chemistry of clay bodies and glazing is something that I find fascinating, and I am continually trying to learn as much as I can about ceramics materials so that I can achieve the designs I imagine creating.