American Craft Council Open Studios: Skinny Ceramics


As we continue our celebration of the American Craft Council’s California members, today we highlight the work of award-winning designer and ceramicist, Susan McKinney. Her acclaimed company—SKINNY Ceramics—explores the boundaries of clay and other materials, expressed in woven and biomorphic forms. Here, she shares more about her work, her inspiration and her love for California.

Tell us who you, what you make, and how you make it.  SKINNY is a creative studio based in North Bay CA, founded by Susan McKinney, a contemporary ceramic artist and industrial designer. The studio is a place to explore color and materiality through inventive, handmade collectible objects. Today Susan’s work is known for its expressive, organic forms and uniquely woven style. Her artwork seeks to connect people to the wonders of the natural world, especially the unseen ones.

-Why are you participating in San Francisco Bay Area Craft Week? Describe any exclusive items that will available in the Craft Week Markteplace. Why and how are they special?  In lieu of in person events this year, I am hoping to connect with our community in this new way. I miss seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones, and the surprised look on faces when they realize my work is ceramic and not leather! 

The items in the marketplace represent my broadened approach during lockdown. In addition to my popular handwoven baskets, I’ve explored solid forms and new materials like glass! Coinciding with the Craft Week, my Quarantine Diaries will be live on my site for a deeper dive into the stories and processes behind these unique collections.

As a California-based artist, how do your surroundings/environment impact your work/practice or process? I came to California like most, seeking the ideal of it – you come to California to change the world! It’s a place and a state of mind, a seemingly endless source of natural beauty and ingenuity, woven in it’s land and people. The energy of the sun, the fires, and the magic of the rolling hills in Northern California all have a big influence on my daily life and practice. Living in the North Bay, it’s quiet and surrounded by nature, but close enough to access the vibrancy of the bay culture. Grateful to live here during the pandemic.

Why is it important to center or bring craft into our social or daily lives? Bringing craft into our daily lives honors the traditions of the past,  while advancing them forward through our modern context. I believe the objects we invest our time, energy, and money in should last beyond our generation. Centering craft in our lives helps us live with fewer, better things.

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