Stephen Ruby- Studio Assistant 2013

Stephen Ruby
Stephen Ruby
Stephen Ruby
Stephen Ruby

Artist's Website

Steve is from the Bay Area, CA.  His interest in wheel-throwing initially pulled him into the medium, however, over time he has grown to explore and incorporate elements of handbuilding, moldmaking and even printmaking into his work as well.  Beginning by taking classes at a city college and working for years in studios as assistants and technicians, he soon found himself teaching classes full-time.  For over a decade, Steve has been instructing students through classes and workshops.  Currently Steve's studio is in Oakland, CA. 

Artist Statement
I love the making process.  I have been influenced through history and my environment and as a result that manifests into my work.  Being filtered through my personal lens, I am left with a hybrid between traditional influences and my personal esthetic.     

After exploring a new medium (monoprinting), I have found that the way I look at ceramics as a medium has changed.  Through exploring sgraffito, a type of decoration made by scratching through a surface to reveal a contrasting color underneath, I find I am able to utilize classic design while updating it to fit my style.  Being influenced by native American, Mexican and Asian motifs, my designs have begun to take a more floral esthetic allowing me to experiment with stains, underglazes, engobes and glazes as options for creating contrast through color resulting in more dynamic surfaces.  It is through these motifs, that I feel free to utlilize the entire surface through repetitive design and the creation of negative space to emphasis contrast.   

I consider my past experiences as a form of accumulating tools or options that I can pull from during the making process.  While initially I was attracted to ceramics via the potters wheel, I find that today I spend much less time on the wheel than I do decorating or embellishing forms that have already been made. 

Experience at Rat City Studios
My obsession with clay began on the potters wheel.  I had wanted to learn how to throw for a long time and as I made more and more thrown forms, I soon realized I wanted to add my unique perspective to the traditional forms I was throwing.  I began to alter and adjust symmetrical forms to a more unique orientation.   This is when I discovered work by Deborah Schwartzkopf.  I felt that she had taken clay in the direction that I had wanted to, creating unique forms that left me thinking about the process.  Eventually I applied and was accepted to an assistantship.  It was an eye-opening experience into the life of full-time ceramic artist.  I loved being privy to the processes and receiving guidance and critical inspiration.  At that time, Ceramistas Seattle was born, eventually becoming Rat City Studios, where my studio space was located.  I was guided into developing my own glazes and a more focused approach to making work.  Before my assistantship, I was having a hard time developing a voice in my work due to the fact that I was so attracted to every aspect of the clay making and glazing process.   I wanted to do everything.  Rat City Studios helped me clarify my goals and I realized I still could pursue all the aspects I was interested in, but I had to proceed one step at a time, seeing through one direction of exploration before beginning a new one.  

Deborah Schwartzkopf

Rat City Studios is the workspace of Deborah Schwartzkopf, Seattle based studio potter and instructor. Her mission is to engage and build community through clay – one person, one neighborhood, and one experience at a time. In service to this pursuit, she offers studio assistant positions for emerging artists, connects people through social events, instructs classes and workshops, and maintains a lively career in the ceramic arts!