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Friday, June 6, 2014

First Friday: Burning Fork Studio

Not long ago I was introduced to Burning Fork Studio in Knoxville and I was drawn to the modern, clean lines and beautiful lace detailing. I love dishes. Love them. I also love to have people over to share meals...I should have multiple sets of dishes for each occasion right? ha! My countess dreaming mentality coming out again...

Lahla at Burning Fork Studio discovered clay at a very young age thanks to her artist Mom. When she told me that all I could think about was last month's Mother's Day First Friday piece and how the little ones of those moms may one day have work that is talked about just like Lahla. Makes me so happy. Speaking of moms, Lahla is a new mom herself and learning how to weave motherhood together with her art.

One of the most interesting things I've learned about Lahla's work is her love for interior design and how it plays a part in her work. I was able to see her wonderfully decorated home, just a few blocks from my house, during our visit a few weeks ago. I can definitely see Lahla's style in her work and I think that is one of the coolest things about getting to know the artists that we have featured.

I'll let Lahla tell you a little more about herself.


PP: How long had you been creating pottery before you launched Burning Fork Studio?

LD: I started making functional pottery in college, about 7 years before I started my business. But I developed a love for clay as a child in my mom's after school art lessons. 

PP: Were you creating the lacey work you make now when you started your business?
LD: No, when I started my business I was searching for my own signature "look," and struggled to find it at first. When a student of mine wanted to make lace pottery in our class was the first time I ever tried pressing lace into clay, and I was hooked! When customers really responded to the lace imprints, I knew I could build my business around those patterns.  

PP: What made you decide to have a specific set of forms? 
LD: I like a cohesive look among all of my pieces, so I gravitated toward shapes that complemented each other and would look good together in a table setting or just on the shelf.

PP: How did you decide on the items you wanted to include in that set? What is it about the pieces that made the cut that you love or that makes you decide the public should have access to them?
LD: I wanted to design a set of tableware, and items that could complement simple tableware that people might already own. For example, you could purchase a set of turquoise bowls and mugs to go with your white dinner plates, and the forms are simple enough that they should fit right in. 

PP: Why did you choose white, turquoise and orange as your color options?  Where did the color inspiration come from?  

LD: A friend designed my logo for me, and those were the colors we chose for my logo. At the time I wasn't making pottery in only those colors, but they were part of my color palette. As I narrowed my patterns and forms down I settled on these colors because they were bright, cheerful, and went well with my pieces. 

PP: How did you decide on the shapes you work with? 
LD: I am drawn to simple shapes with clean lines—I think they are a nice contrast to the intricate, feminine patterns of the lace.  

PP: I noticed Domino books and magazines in your home (on top of a well-designed room)...does interior design play into the role you think your pieces should play in a home? 

LD: Yes! I'm always thinking about how my pieces could be used both functionally and to decorate with.  

PP: To me, your work deserves to be displayed in a specific way in certain types of homes. Do you envision your work in certain environments? 

LD: I really just think about how my items could work in my own home—I think as an artist, your work is most successful if it's something you would use or display yourself. If I don't love it, no one else will either!

You can learn more about Lahla on her website or on Facebook and Twitter. To purchase her work visit her Etsy store. Photo credits to Burning Fork Studio.

The creating of a dog bowl

Artist Statement: I’m a bit of a homebody. That’s not to say I don’t like to go places. I just love all things having to do with life at home. The cups, plates, pots and pans, chairs and tables, napkins, blankets, pillows, lamps, rugs, mirrors—all the useful pieces that fill a house and make it belong to a specific person or family. I am fascinated by them—vintage, modern, mass-produced, handmade. They say something about us. If a total stranger were to take a peek inside our houses, our things would tell a good part of our story.

Because I am so drawn to the useful things, I make artwork that I can use. From hand-built coffee mugs to hand-painted coffee tables, I always envision how each piece would fit into my home (or someone’s home) before I make it. I love the idea of my work being incorporated into someone’s daily routine, becoming treasured objects that help define one’s personal style and aesthetic.

Beyond my love for both beautiful and functional artworks, I am drawn to the processes involved in making them. Clay work and furniture painting require a discipline and patience that do not come naturally to me—waiting for clay to stiffen or paint to dry before being able to move on to the next step of the project is sometimes frustrating, but always rewarding.

I never tire of the thrill of getting it right. Of creating something in which someone can serve dinner. Of painting a beat-up old chair into an original, functional artwork. Of making something lovely that you can use, and treasure, and help you tell your story.


  1. Thank you for a wonderful piece on Lahla and her work! I am very flattered that she accredits me with her love of art and clay! She was always very creative and had an especially good eye for color and color combinations, as well as technical ability in drawing and sculpting. I am one proud mother!

    1. Kathy, thank you for sharing your creative love with Lahla! You should be very proud. We love her work and are excited to see more in the years to come! Thank you for sharing art in your East Tennessee community! I hope to visit your studio one day. :-) -Alison



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