Betsy Morningstar of Hood College


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Meet the Artist

  • About This Artist

    Betsy loves a life full of creative busyness. She has earned a Bachelors in art education, and Masters in education and is finishing her second Masters in ceramics. As a high school art teacher, she pushes her students' creative brains to new ideas and encourages her students to create artwork that connects to who they are at their core. Helping her students create beyond what they thought was possible has always filled her with energy and joy. On March 13, 2020, school and work were canceled, the world shut down and Betsy, who loves to be surrounded by others, was all by herself. As a social person, she knew that if she was going to be alone during the pandemic, she would need something to occupy her busy mind. Allowing herself to fully immerse herself in creating with clay was the perfect solution. So, she clambered up a ladder in her kitchen, climbed through the hole in the ceiling, and transformed an old storage space into a tiny upstairs studio. Each day she carried her cat up the ladder, and got to work making and experimenting. Betsy needed a way to work though the anxiety of isolation, connect with others and validate the importance of day and life in isolation. So, a porcelain notebook paper was crafted, and the journaling began.

    Betsy has always been a journal writing person. She has been chronicling her travels, explorations, thoughts, and happy memories in notebooks for years. The ceramic journals themselves began as a challenge to herself to validate the importance of day and life in isolation. The journals served two purposes; to find tiny moments that reminded her that life was important, full, and joyful, and to be a place to let out the difficult emotions and feelings she was thinking, but afraid to express out loud.

    The ceramic paper cranes are her moment of hope and love in all the struggles and weirdness that the papers and notes express. Inspired by an actual paper crane gifted to her during pandemic isolation, the cranes are the reminder of love, goodness, connection, and hope that no matter where we are on the rollercoaster of life, there is always hope for the brighter side.

  • Q&A With This Artist

    A: I like to push the limit of the transparency of porcelain to mimic the quality of paper. Once thin enough, I hand cut each individual hole for the spiral bound edge, binder holes and add a perforated line. Once it’s perfect, I rip each spiral hole one at a time to create that frustrating fray. The colors of the lines are added using the mishima technique. The final step is choosing the perfect note from my journals for the surface, which is then carved and filled with color.

    A: The physical form of the paper transports me back to beautiful, simple moments. I love the comfort of the blue and red lines, the placement of the binder holes, and relish the frustration of the frayed edge when it is removed from the spiral. There is beauty in the folds, wrinkles and waviness that gives away the secret that that page has been used. I love replicating a familiar object that is often barely noticed in our day to day lives, making it permanent and important in porcelain.

    A: When you pick up the notebook vessels, they are as light as real paper. Then hold it to the light and the thinnest papers are translucent and glow. Also, I really enjoy tricking people! People often think there is a real piece of paper on the form, and are surprised when I explain how I handcraft all the details from scratch. Recreating a nostalgic form that causes others to pause and think, “...wait a minute…” and then smile when they figure it out, makes me laugh every time.

    A: I always encourage my students to play, experiment and be curious about the possibilities in making rather than the fear of failure, and I feel the same way about my own work. When creating during the pandemic quarantine, I allowed myself to play and made a rule for myself that I could only make things that made me smile. The creation of the papers came from a playful curiosity and the sheer personal delight when I was able to craft a form so close to its inspiration. I continue to be encouraged to make when I watch others experience my work and pause in wonder of how it was created.

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