Kala Stein

Artist Statement

I believe in the potential of the collective and explore this notion through strategies of multiples and patterning of form. Through fragmentation of the utilitarian vessels I challenge its autonomy and assumed function. Pattern with the forms as well as developed by repeating form suggests utopic order and a universal language of pattern.

Archetypal ceramic forms, chosen for their formal strengths and cultural significance, are the basis for all of my designs. The cup is central to my interests as it is socially significant in the realms of home, business, health, and celebration. It is for everyday and for celebration; it is robust in its role, yet intimate in its function.


An intimate connection with ceramic material and process informs my logic of making. My desire is for optimum efficiency. A sensitivity to inherent qualities of the materials dictate the processes I use.

Slip casting with plaster molds, traditionally an industrial production and design process, provides a way to make large editions of the same object. I bring the slip casting process into my own studio with different intentions. With soft clay models I am able to make temporal actions historic. Gestures of the hand and tool are marks in the clay and, with plaster, I am able to capture those marks in the molds I make. The mold then transfers these unique marks into every piece.

My multipart molds do not have keys or registration marks, but are bound together with nylon straps each time they are used. This way, the mold is shifted, reordered or re-configured resulting in a distinct, autonomous object while using the same mold parts. I refer to as a “modular” mold system. The variables in the mold systems are also variables in the cast object.

I am not striving for a perfect human-less object, but instead incorporate irregularities and variables into my systems to reveal traces of process, individualism, and authorship. I am not sacrificing craft by doing this, but I am asserting a promise for the continuum of the handmade.

-- Kala Stein



Kala Stein (b.1979) is an artist and designer noted for innovative mold making and casting techniques. Her work explores dynamic systems and sustainable practices within the intersection of design, production, and the handmade.

Kala received her BFA in Ceramics from SUNY New Paltz in 2002 and her MFA in Ceramics from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2009. She stayed on at Alfred to teach and curate at the Cohen Gallery from 2009-2015.

She has shown in over 40 national exhibitions across the country, works with private clients on custom designs for the home and hospitality industry. Her community based work is aimed at developing models that will help organizations, schools, and private practitioners operate with more sustainable practices.

Kala is the Director of Ceramics at Sonoma Community Center, Sonoma, California where she is developing and enhancing their community studio, artist in residence program, and community outreach programming.


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