A Studio Tour: Kuu Pottery
Today, Kassandra Guzman sits in a bright sunlit pottery studio in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. Everything is painted white - the walls and floor a perfect foil to her bright, fanciful pots. But it’s been a journey to get here.
Kassandra (called Kuu by her friends) started working with pottery casually in a community class in South Florida’s Ceramic League of Miami. Shortly after, she optimistically purchased a wheel and kiln from Craigslist and set it up in her parents back yard. To her disappointment (and surprise), when she ran her first fire, she found that one of the coils was faulty. So, as a beginning potter, she learned one of her first major lessons: it can be expensive.
Not in the least deterred, she got a shed from her mom to protect her kiln in the backyard, and within months, started having friends over for classes. Shortly after, she moved out and continued teaching from her first apartment while maintaining a full time job. She taught every night for a year. Unfortunately, as a novice potter working and firing from her apartment, she became ill from fumes and dust, and began to show toxic shock symptoms.
In need of recovery, Kuu moved back in with her parents and succumbed to family pressure to start a degree in accounting in order to have something to fall back on. Ultimately, she pursued a business degree instead, and opened a small studio in North Miami while she finished her BA.
Upon her arrival to Seattle, she operated from her apartment for four to five months while she explored numerous locations to find one that inspired her to set up shop. Kuu was surprised at Seattle’s dedicated spaces for artists, and has felt more supported here than in Miami. Even after finding the perfect space, though, she had to rewire her kiln from a 240 to 220 Volts to fit the electrical availability of the studio, and also footed the hefty electrical installation bill required to connect her kiln.
From having set up several studios, she’s learned a valuable lesson: find a small corner where you can access tools in immediate proximity so you don’t waste energy on moving around. However, Kuu admits embracing her chaotic energy and enthusiasm for new projects by trying new things as they spring up in her mind rather than inhibiting herself by following a disciplined and organized approach.
Here in Seattle, she’s had the opportunity to market her work through an expanding e-commerce business and focus her energy in growing as an artist rather than as a teacher. Most important to her at this time is creating a body of work that is spontaneous, colorful, and embodies her sense of curiosity. Not planning on teaching at the moment, she feels the most grounded in her solo studio where she’s exploring molds and making her own glaze.
Kuu’s determination to make pots and to share her passion with those around her has taught her that flexibility is key - and is necessary to grow and make the most of her practice. She’s learned the ability to pack up and move as often as she needs to.
Even now, ensconced in her perfect little studio, she says she doesn’t have attachment: as long as she can pack up her kiln, wheels, and clay, things will be all right.
Kassandra Guzman (@kuupottery on Instagram) is the owner of Kuu Pottery. We're so glad we had the chance to see her studio and chat!
Photography by www.ellaarie.com