Hi, I'm Shannon Kelly. I make handmade functional ceramics and hanging planters at Orphan Ten, my backyard studio, named after a Modern-Shed that was “orphaned” after a developer took delivery of seven of ten units before running out of money.
Aside from being a lucky number and a reference to the fingers that make my ceramics, #10 was the last in the production line and easily customizable to accommodate a kiln and potters wheel.
The name is also an homage to my grandmother Lillian - who was orphaned at 3yrs old and adopted at 7yrs old. She was a champion of creativity, and when I’d paint outside the lines on the picnic table, she would simply wash it off at the end of the day with a hose. In her sixties, my Grandma took up painting and became quite the accomplished artist, selling her landscape and floral scenes locally.
I love how the name Orphan Ten reflects the past, present, and future of the space and my work as a ceramic artist.
Pottery has a long shelf life – hidden within an archeological dig, merchandised at the Goodwill, placed around the dinner table with friends, or presented at an artist exhibition in a gallery. As a culture, we learn about past peoples from stoneware artifacts that don’t easily decay like fibers, metal, and wood. There’s a longevity to ceramics that pushes me to create items that are a representation of today, will be loved tomorrow, and are durable for the future.
I make pottery in small batches and each one is unique – with its own subtleties in shape, glaze break, or slight unevenness along the rim. Some bowls have slight rings along the inside from my fingers as I pull the clay on the wheel. The hanging planters are a mixed-medium art object with hand-tied paracord knots for outdoor durability. Keeping those human details intact is intentional.
Finding a balance between controlling the clay and allowing for variants within the process brings me joy. Every piece has its own story that it’s deeply sentimental and deliberate.