Sage Cortez | Episode 281
Sage Cortez is the hands of Hand & Fire Ceramics. Sage is a designer, ceramist, and craftswoman focusing on perfecting qualities of hand within functional tableware. Sage’s work is intended to bring life to any table it is brought to–to be a refresher in a world of casted, symmetrical, and manufactured goods. Currently Sage is finishing up her BFA as a sculpture major in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. It is important to Sage that all her materials are locally sourced, food safe, and well made to provide you with the best quality to her ability. Hand & Fire is Sage’s inspiration towards being creative every day; whether it be clay or flour, Sage always has her hands in something.
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About your work. Why dark clay?
I use dark clay because it is different than everyone else’s. It brings a warmth that a light clay doesn’t bring. I initially started with porcelain and moved all the way down to these black clay bodies. It just brings something totally different to a glaze.
Using a dark bodied clay, does it affect the form you are going to be making? Does it challenge you differently?
It definitely does. It makes me think about it more as a surface itself rather than something I am going to cover up. So I try to make it as attractive as I can make it. It has some technical issues that allows me not to make certain things the way that I like them. I try to allow it to have its own say but also put in mine as well.
Do you hold the recipe for your glaze close to your chest?
Yes. I am totally open in explaining how I get to that point but I don’t want to just give it out to everybody. I think that it’s important that you have some things that are secret, but I like helping people.
How about your studio mates, do you share with them about your glazes?
Yes, we all share, but we don’t share with other people.
Why is the secrecy of that important to you?
I think it allows you to have your own voice in a way that other people may not be able to get it.
How important is the educational process for preparing you for life and for a maker that wants to earn money?
I think it is really, really important. It is totally beneficial to me and so many other people. It hasn’t necessarily prepared me to start selling my work, but it has made me see that people are interested and helps me critically challenge what I am making and what other people are making, to be able to look at the world a totally different way than when I first came in.
As a student in the middle of your educational process, what is one thing that is a negative about the process (where they could improve) and one thing that is positive (they are really nailing it here)?
A negative aspect I think would be, specifically in the fine art community, the negative sentiment towards crafts people and selling. That has definitely been difficult to overcome but it has pushed me in a good direction. I guess that would also be my positive.It has really made me want to do something different and do it anyway. It’s done a lot of good for me there.
How important is community and the support of friends and people you love around you as a maker?
It is the most important thing. It changes the way that you feel about the things that you are making and why you are making them. The support that I have found is totally incredible. I have never experienced something like what I am getting right now.
What is one complement that comes to you that still warms your heart when you think of it (about your work)?
I think in reference to my photographs being really well put together. And working well to explain what my pottery is but also putting them as a form of a digital format on the computer.