SKINNY is a creative studio founded by Susan McKinney, a contemporary ceramic artist and industrial designer. The studio is a place to explore clay’s materiality, connecting Susan’s passion for inventive design with natural materials. Today, her ceramic work is known for its expressive, organic forms and uniquely woven style.
Constantly in motion, she is in a playful search for sustaining beauty. Her work seeks to connect people to the wonders of the natural world. Based in Marin, California, her handmade collections range from sculptural to functional objects, giving space for nature and creativity around the home.
Materials & Ingredients
I use four different clay bodies from either Laguna or Aardvark – Speckled Buff, Cassius Basaltic, B-mix, Raku Sculpture clay, and fire to Cone 06 for bisque, Cone 5 for glaze. My preferred method of finishing is to fire the clay unglazed, to highlight the natural texture of the material and process. I have a small range of underglazes, mason stains, and glazes that I regularly use as well.
Packaging & Delivery
Starch peanuts, bubble wrap, cardboard boxes. USPS for shipping, or free local pick up.
Quality & Value
There is not really a standard of “perfection”. My work is meant to embrace the imperfect, organic nature of clay, transcending seasons and time. It’s ceramic so it can of course break, but if you take care of it, it will last forever.
My woven pieces actually use a very economical amount of clay. I like the challenge of using as little clay as possible to create something that feels full and voluminous. Additionally, during the clay recycling/reclaiming process I mix in colorful stains, to give new life to old clay scraps.
Local Supply Chains
Clay People in Richmond is one of the last remaining ceramic supply shops in the Bay Area. I buy 90% of my supplies and equipment through them. They are a wonderful resource!
I draw inspiration from weaving and other ancient craft techniques, which aren’t exactly energy efficient… but there is wisdom there I think we can all learn from. Weaving asks us to seek nature, to slow down, to make things we need, but in a way our earth can sustain. With my experience as an industrial designer, I’ve spent a lot of time designing products for mass production. With that, you inevitably design for efficiency, repeatability, cost targets, and fast schedules. All that effort and modern technology for a product to often times last only 2 years. It drove me to wanting to create objects that would last multiple lifetimes! My goal is to take the wisdom of the past and combine it with my hopes for the future – to live with and create fewer, better things.
Joy is an essential part of my process. I think that translates through the work, and ultimately to the person viewing it. Putting a smile on people’s face – when they realize the work is ceramic and not leather or fabric – is what motivates me to keep creating. Now more than ever it is important to inspire joy and optimism in others through art.
Goals & Aspirations
I would ultimately love to get away from using bubble wrap for shipping.
ADDITIONAL READING LINKS