Artisanal Imperfections: Pottery by Marité Acosta

Marité Acosta’s pottery is refreshingly original. Her techniques and aesthetics emerge from years of work in fashion, textiles, and food. Such a broad range of experience provides a great foundation for an original take on pottery.

Marité shares her unique background and insight into how her works emerge organically. Much of her process involves serendipitous happenstance in producing irregular textures and details.

“I start one step, and then go on to the next step. I look at it—it’s not done. Then, boom! There’s a swipe of black ink across it, and it’s still not done. Then I dip it in glaze—now it’s done! It’s one happy accident after another.”

"I have swatches of paint strokes in the background and then I work with different glazes to get that sort of blue green effect. It sort of creates a plaid effect, but I’m not painting a plaid." The Brush Plate via mariteacosta.com.

Working primarily as a food stylist and chef, Marité has found creating pottery to be one of the most rewarding activities as an artist.

Tforia.com: I am curious about your background. You’ve worked with textiles, you’re a chef and you create amazing pottery.

Marité: Well, that’s my world, that’s my whole background: fashion, textile, food and pottery. I’ve discovered how incredibly related it all is in a weird sense.

T: It’s interesting how your ideas can translate across all mediums, rather than just one. Tell me how you went about learning the techniques required in each field.

M: I studied fashion design, and then I did design for children’s clothing, which of course was closely related with textiles. I had to design everything that went on the textiles for all the clothing lines. I went from that to a print studio where I focused a lot on home furnishings.

I had taken pottery years ago, just for fun, with my design team. We used to do it just to get out of our world and go after work. I always loved it. For years, it stuck with me, how much I really enjoyed that.

Following the print studio, I wanted to go into food, because it was another area, of something I just love. I took the leap and I went to culinary school with the intention of not working in a restaurant but to explore everything else that that world had to offer.

"to me they felt like paintings almost, once they were photographed" The Pencil Edge plate via mariteacosta.com.

Food styling is where I’ve landed. Even the process of that was kind of organic in letting it happen, but of course with some direction, guiding fate a little bit. I was lucky enough I worked for three years at Food Network, and I did such an assortment of things there that was amazing.

The first month I was there, the guy who hired me definitely read my resume. He knew my background. We were working on a cupcake app for the iPad. He said,’Oh, do you think you could come up with a color palette for us for these cupcakes?” And I said, ‘Color palette, yeah.” Of course I could do that, because that was my world, colorist was my first title. Color, textile, it’s all related.

Here I am, spending weeks making color palettes made of frosting. It blew my mind just how quickly my world came full circle. It’s not a typical thing you see in the kitchen.

I did a lot of recipe developing and testing and styling and more and more getting into the styling. I am a freelancer and I had a little bit of a slower period. The pottery thing had been in the back of my head.

I wanted to take a class just for fun. One class turned into another class and that class turned into another class, and then I became a studio potter and I’m like ‘Oh my god, what am I going to do with all this?’ I’m just making, I had to just make and I found myself spending as much time as I could in the studio.

"There’s the texture, the paint, everything is going in different directions." The Black and Blue Drip bowl via mariteacosta.com.

It’s like going into a yoga class. Pure meditation and joy. A pretty happy place.

I started taking pictures of it, just to refer and make records for myself. I put them up and all of a sudden, people were like ‘Hey, I really like it.’

So I started selling, even though I had no intention of creating a shop when I first started. I can’t just keep accumulating it. What am I going to do with it? I just like making it.

T: The joy still remains in creating the pottery, now with the popularity of your pieces?

M: I had been getting approached for wholesale. But I’m not a production potter. It would take the fun out of it.

It’s not about the money, it’s about getting pieces I like into people’s hands, if they want it. It makes it really special in that way, because that’s not my job—I cook! That’s my career, which I love.

T: It seems that the experiences you’ve had contributes to your knowledge of translating aesthetics onto pottery. It all comes across so well.

"I took a pin tool and just carving out. These are special to me—they came out of nowhere." The Shrug Vessel via mariteacosta.com.

M: It’s like layers, it’s obvious that the textiles, the texture, the paint brush and the plaid, is just a culmination of my design background, I don’t isolate the design that I did. It’s just layers of who I am today. The difference here is that I can do it in the colors that I want.

The aesthetic process is the exciting part I find in any design. It’s the editing thing, knowing when to stop is enough. When you’re plating a plate of food, you can always remove something. When you’re doing pottery, you need to know when to stop. So that’s, just the whole process is just relaxing and fun and more artful than anything else that I’ve done.

There’s always a little bit of ‘have to’. Here I don’t ‘have to’ anything; it’s just what I decide. In food styling I’m catering to the client, whoever I’m styling the food for. In fashion design, I’m catering to the brand, the bosses and the masses. In this, I’m just catering to what I like. The fact that anyone else, likes what I do is the biggest reward of all. Of all the design work that I’ve done, which are a lot, in a way this is the most rewarding because I’ve just let myself do what feels best to me about it.

I would think with any art, the deepest gratification would be ‘I can do whatever I want!'. If other people like it, great, but that's not the purpose of creating art.

"I took a shopping bag, it was a burlap on the outside, textile, and I tore that bag apart. Now that’s the texture that I use for the majority of them." Textile plate via mariteacosta.com.

T: It’s nice to hear that you’re staying true to why you’re involved with pottery in the first place.

M: I’m really grateful I have the opportunity to do this. I spend as much time at the studio as I can. Sometimes I go in and I know what I want to do already, before I go in. There are days that, the best days are when I don’t know what I’m going to do, I’m just going to go in and just do. Those are extra special. I make sure I have a balance of those. I think interesting thing happen then.

It’s interesting though, with travel, since I’ve traveled around the world, but I’ve never traveled to Japan. Japanese design inspires me greatly—the whole approach of imperfections with pottery is something that I like.

"The glaze on top has two to three different angles, it can either sway a little blue or a little green or a little grayer. The black in the background comes through as a dark blue instead of black." Small Brush bowls via mariteacosta.com.

I love that something can remain imperfect and beautiful because of it. It’s what people are. Most things in life are not perfect and that’s the beauty in it.

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For Marité's most recent creations, visit mariteacosta.com. Visit Tforia's feature of Marité's pottery shop here.

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