Mess Ceramics was created by Ceramic Specialist, Irina Salmina, whose desire was to create high quality ceramic products expressing her creativity. Handmade ceramics takes long-term effort to get classical technique beauty, which adds individual spirit to the interior. CBW had an interview with Irina Salmina:
What led your interest to Ceramics, what was your background before launching a studio?
My interests were always pretty diverse and I was constantly learning something new, searching for ways to express my creativity. Throwing on a pottery wheel was something mesmerizing for me so I thought I needed to try that magic. Then I saw that working with clay has endless possibilities and so I started experimenting with different forms and decorating techniques getting deeper and deeper into the possibilities. I ended up with geometric forms, Maths was always my favorite subject at school; I have an engineering background – I graduated from The Georgian Technical University, in the third year of my studies I entered a Cisco course for beginners and then continued my self-education in that field. I worked in IT for 5 years as a Cisco IP Telephony and Contact Center Engineer in Tbilisi and in Moscow as well, so as you can see it’s not a typical artistic background.
What difficulties did you face while making your dream a reality?
The main problem was with the materials, tools and equipment. I wanted to make something complex and different – however I was severely limited because the materials and equipment are hard to get in Georgia. Everything is ordered from abroad, and becomes quite expensive because of the shipping and taxes which still remains a major challenge. I became obsessed about “ceramic shopping” digging in the internet for something interesting to try. So I used to order a lot of new glazes, tools and books from US instead of a new pairs of shoes. I had to raise the money to buy my equipment myself which meant working different jobs to do this.
Describe your working day, how do you invent comfortable environment?
I always start with a cup of coffee, turning on some good music and tuning in to the right wavelength. I am always dancing and singing whilst I am working on a project. That gives me a better expression. I listen to British internet radio pretty loud – fortunately my studio is on an industrial estate. Mostly my work is physically hard, I start with the clay and make it into different forms depending on the project – everything is done by hand so I can ensure the highest quality. Sometimes I work into the night and can’t go home until something satisfying is done, indeed there are some processes I have to do to the end, no matter how long they take.
Tell us about the techniques and materials that you use, is it hard to get any in Georgia?
When I started to think about making tiles I did research on techniques that could be used. I tried a lot, before I got an understanding of the process. Then I created a some kind of technological combination of old and modern techniques, which was improved through trial and error many times before it became usable. The trial and error method is the best for learning and problem solving. I call my work a symbiosis of engineering and art with technical complexity. As I mentioned earlier materials, tools and equipment was and is a big problem. Ordering from abroad makes self costs much higher than they would usually be. I work with white clay mostly, different kinds of glazes and do experiments on my home-made decorative materials, still mostly I order chemicals from abroad because it’s simply impossible to find them here in Georgia – it’s to be hoped that the government will support creative industries by cutting tariffs on imported artistic materials – after all Georgia is a country of artists!
Are there pieces you can’t say goodbye to?
I can’t say goodbye to my first serious artwork I made after a couple of days I started working with clay. It was a vase with spikes having nice cosmic look. It was very hard to accomplish. I am always interested working on complex projects. So I spent dozens of hours forming, polishing etc to get exactly that perfect look. And after finishing I realised that I found what I want to do, just fell in love with ceramics. This piece has a very symbolic meaning to me and will stay with me forever.
What has been your favorite project so far?
I like that my artworks are becoming more and more complex. A lot of planning , calculations and theories about how to get that look are behind this. I started making handmade geometric tiles, then continued making installations with them as wall decors in the frames. Now I am not limited to tiles only . My art is transforming all the time. The latest installation project I am working on now is the most complex I ever made and is my favourite for now. It’s a modern architectural parametric design, consisting of 25 pieces. They are arched curves and each has a different angle. I made a special material for them which gave a cobalt blue velvety surface in different shades. A spray application technique is used for the coating. Besides the artwork itself another difficulty developing a special stand for that to be installed on. So for now I spend more time on developing the fixing technique then the artwork itself because of the complexity of the installation parts. It’s still in progress.
Do you have any upcoming events where your work will be showcased?
Yes now I started a very interesting collaboration project with an interesting Georgian Artist. We are preparing our secret project for exhibition, we’re at the very beginning but I think it will be something interesting. Hopefully we will be done by the end of the year. For now I can’t say more. If people want to see examples of my work there are lots of photos on my facebook page – people interested in seeing physical works and discussing projects can message me through facebook and arrange a meeting at the studio – as long and they are okay with mess!