ELEVEN SIX WOMEN | KATE CRASSWELLER
Photos courtesy of Kate Crassweller | @katecrassweller
Meet Kate Crassweller a seasoned fashion design and concept, industry creative turned ceramicist. Crassweller makes exquisite, ceramic sculptures and describes ceramics as:"an elemental outlet" for her "design creativity." Crassweller found working with clay a grounding, therapeutic outlet against having a demanding, corporate fashion job and being a mama to two young boys. Crassweller and ELEVEN SIX co-founder: Catherine Carnevale worked together as design co-directors at Calvin Klein back in 2008 and have since been connected through their synergy. ELEVEN SIX had the honor of showcasing a stunning, 6 piece sculpture collection of Crassweller's work in our recently opened retail store in Kingston, NY. We couldn't have asked for more stunning art forms to accompany our textural, knitwear collections. See Crassweller's work available in store HERE. In this story Crassweller is intimately captured at her Brooklyn, NY home wearing some of her favorite ELEVEN SIX knitwear pieces.
Can you share with us your design background and when and why ceramics came into the mix?
I’ve always been interested in art and design, and dabbled in many mediums as I grew up. I went to art school in the UK and ultimately decided to major in Fashion Design. After University I landed a job as a womenswear designer in New York and have been working for large design houses for nearly 2 decades. I love the creative problem solving that design requires, and appreciate the marriage between art & commerce that challenges both the artistic and practical sides of my personality. After my second son was born, and feeling quite burnt out with parenting 2 small children and working a demanding corporate job, I was seeking an outlet that was more vital, meditative and personal- I found that in clay. I started my clay practice by taking classes in wheel throwing, which can be so mind-clearing in its repetition and the focus you need to maintain between your hands and the clay. I don’t know, however, that I’m necessarily an innate wheel potter, and I ultimately moved onto hand building and sculpture. It feels much more open-ended and full of creative potential.
Can you describe your ceramic style and what inspires your work?
All of my pieces are one-of-kind sculptures that are built through the hand coiling method. I never sketch out ideas before hand- I let the clay lead me. My pieces tend towards an organic, sensual spirit, that often evoke elements of corporeal forms. I prefer to work in raw, unglazed surfaces that celebrate the natural texture of the clay. I think growing up in the UK, I’ve always been inspired by the work of English sculptors like Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, but as a trend director in fashion, I always have my eye on what’s happening in style, art, culture, interiors, food, and color, and I draw from that well too.
What have been highlights for you working on the ceramic medium?
Working with clay has made me both more connected to my inner self, and more connected to a community of artists that have brought so much dimension to my life.
Can you share your process or design approach?
I never really have a plan, i just begin and let the form and clay guide itself. It becomes a bit symbiotic. Sometimes I have an idea of what I’m trying to achieve, but I almost always feel disappointed when I try to force the form too much, so I approach the work more loosely. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s part of the clay process- pieces break, they explode in the kiln…sometimes it’s heartbreaking, but ultimately you have to let the work go, and move on to the next. Ceramics practice has a way of putting things in perspective and making you humble!
You have shown your ceramics as part of the female focused L’editions…can you share with us about this art collective?
L’Editions was started by my great friend Sarah Brook, and brings together multi-disciplinary artists, all of whom so far have happened to be women. She’s a genius curator and supporter of her artists, and being part of this collective has meant everything to my work- it has allowed me to see myself as a real artist, and the women that have been part of this group so far are incredible creatives; we all have so much mutual respect for each other, it’s like having a team of cheerleaders and constructive critics behind you. It’s taught me that it matters who you bring into your life, and that all boats rise with the tide.
Do you have any exciting plans for Kate Crassweller ceramics in the pipeline?
I want to push into more ambitious scale and more adventurous sense of color and surface as I evolve my practice. Im craving a sense of freedom and experimentation- maybe it’s a reaction to the (literal and figurative) containment we’ve all felt throughout the pandemic.
What does the ELEVEN SIX brand mean to you?
To me, ELEVEN SIX is about harnessing craft through a meticulous eye for what women actually want to wear. It’s such a reflection of who Catherine is as a woman and a creator- she holds herself and her product to the highest standards, but there’s a sense of joy and ease that goes along with what she designs. It’s the ultimate luxury; comfort and design that you can’t find “just anywhere”, and that you want to pull out season after season. The fact that these sweaters are majority made by hand by women artisans is also so important. You can feel the expertise, heritage and care that all the hands that touch these sweaters bring to each piece.
Which are your favorite ELEVEN SIX knitwear pieces from the current collections?
I love the sculptural dimension of the Aurora sweater, with its modern take on cables- it’s insanely soft and cozy. the luxe sportiness of the Tatum Sweater with its open collar that shows the collarbone but has a sexy tomboy edge is exactly the kind of effortless thing I want to grab and throw on with vintage denim. And I love the simplicity and minimalism of the Edie mock neck in the perfect shade of gray that can go with anything, but still feels like enough of a statement to get noticed. I also have my eye on the Sara Cardi as a great staple in the emotional tangerine color!
See Ceramic pieces from Kate Crassweller available at the ELEVEN SIX Retail store and online HERE