Meet Kip O'Krongly!

Kip’s Background

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Kip received her BA from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota in 2001.  She has participated in multiple residencies at Northern Clay Center and has also been a resident at Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts and the Archie Bray Foundation.  Kip teaches workshops across the country, most recently at Penland School of Crafts and St Olaf College. Kip currently works out of the studio she refinished in her Northfield, Minnesota home.

You can find some of Kip’s work here and see more examples on her website www.kipokrongly.com.



What are some of the biggest hurdles you have faced with being an artist?

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I think one of the biggest challenges for me as an artist has surrounded finding balance.  Not only the commonly cited work-life balance (which as a self-employed artist is just a given!), but also balance within my work itself. What is the ideal mix between reliable pieces and time dedicated to studio play?  How do I juggle my love of detail with looming deadlines?  Or how to balance the work that goes into each piece with the prices I charge? While I still struggle with these and many other questions of balance, I’ve learned that part of my challenge stemmed from a limited understanding how long things really take me to make.  Over the past few years I have done extensive time studies of my studio “regulars” and it has transformed my studio practice. Now I know if I need to make 10 mugs, 15 plates and 5 bowls exactly how many hours I’ll be committing to making those pieces.  While that explicit knowledge was hard to swallow at first (I am a tortoise of a maker!), it’s helped me answer vital studio questions about timing and pricing. Knowing answers to those questions frees me up to better plan my time and to fit in all the things I not only have to do but want to do.

A peek at Kip’s time studies. Want to do this for yourself? Click the image above to download a copy of her time study spreadsheet!



Where do you go for inspiration?

My current body of work is influenced both by contemporary discussions about food and climate change as well as a few pivotal events in my past.  As a child growing up in Alaska, I experienced our need for energy firsthand during the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 – I was ten years old at the time.  I had no clue what a considerable weight the event would have on my future relationship with energy but visiting the devastated beaches in Alaska remains a vivid memory nearly 30 years later.  My husband, an environmental economist, also has a significant impact on my work in clay.  His studies of resources and energy weave into our conversations and ideas we discuss often filter into my work.  On his recommendation, I first read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by food activist Michael Pollan back in 2005.  This book marked a significant shift in my approach to working with clay.  Pollan’s clear voice gave concrete structure to ideas I had previously only pieced together.  With his book as a starting point, I continue to be influenced by and draw from the concepts Pollan explores along with the wealth of reporting on agriculture and climate as I think about my work today. 

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How do you spend your time outside of the studio?

When I’m not in the studio I still seem to gravitate toward working with my hands... I love to bake and am a huge fan of the Great British Baking Show (I’m signed up to take a baguette making class later this month!). Sewing and gardening are other hobbies I regularly pursue, and I always seem to have a house project in the works. You may also find me listening to Hamilton on repeat (I finally got to see it this year!), taking daily walks with my pup, Girdie, or in the cities with my husband checking out a new restaurant or playing our favorite pinball machine — Medieval Madness.

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