By Margarita Hirapetian
If you're in the market for something truly unique that will brighten up your home and be immediately noticed by your guests, RAW artist Female Alchemy has just the thing for you. Tatiana Cardona handmakes striking pottery (everything from bowls and flower planters to mugs and ashtrays) adorned with whimsical lips that grab your attention and draw the eye, and you can definitely call them conversation starters. In fact, one look at her gorgeously colorful Instagram feed, and you'll be hooked. It’s both arresting and soothing, thanks to her meticulous curation.
Tatiana loves featuring lips on her handmade creations because "they seduce the viewer and make the everyday things in your home more interesting." That really couldn't be truer. Not only do lips "have a playful sensuality" as she says, but they also offer a myriad of ways to get creative. In Tatiana's work, you'll find ashtrays with lips smoking a blunt, mouths with tongues sticking out or touching provocatively, a flower pot with a mouth open to reveal glistening fangs (perfect for Halloween or anyone with an appreciation for something a bit darker), and a particularly eye-catching mug featuring a long tongue as the handle. Any of these creations in your home would indeed add a sense of fun and liveliness, and probably be a source of envy, too.
Tatiana reveals how happy she is to have found something to call all her own, "Before I started featuring lips in my work I was all over the place, I really wanted to create my own style and have my own "thing" I guess you can say. In this search, I playfully took a break from creating things from a conceptual perspective and just decided to try and just have fun with it again. Then I made two really tiny cups with lips on them and I loved them, so did all of my classmates and that's kind of how it all started." Still, there are challenges to grapple with in ceramics. In fact, Tatiana reveals that pretty much "everything" can be an obstacle in pottery, "Ceramics has so many steps until you reach the completed piece so it's a lot of trial and error. There are so many things that can go wrong, so each step you're holding your breath hoping your piece survives and it comes out how you expect. I think time has really been my biggest challenge. The process is so lengthy so when something fails, you are now set back by maybe a week or two. So you really have to pray something new you're trying works out the first time especially if you're on a deadline."
Despite these frustrations, ceramics also sound like something that brings Tatiana a sense of peace. Working directly with your hands, not being afraid to get a little bit messy, and really connecting with your work on a tactile level presents a different type of artistic experience, after all. As Tatiana explains, “I love working with my hands, and there is a certain rawness to it that you just can't get with painting. I knew how to communicate my ideas better through ceramics than with 2-dimensional mediums. I feel with clay I am closer to earth and to the history of art making.” Moreover, Tatiana is eager to share her work in a way that makes a positive impact, and certainly looking at her work cannot fail to make you feel happy. This also happens to be a major goal of hers. She says, “I ultimately just want my work to make people smile. I make affordable art that people can own and use in their home. I don't think art should be confined to overpriced abstract pieces that only the rich can have the luxury of owning.” Making art accessible to as many people as possible is such a noble endeavor, especially because that’s not always the case. For some, art can even be intimidating or unapproachable in certain instances, but with Tatiana’s creations, you can not only display each piece in a pride of place, but also use them, bringing you closer to the art as you do so.
As she continues to create, Tatiana has been exploring other mediums, even though pottery and her emphasis on lips have brought her great joy and success. Looking to the future, she says, “I always want to learn new things and don't want to confine myself to one art form. I really like collaging so I want to try doing some more of that and I want to tackle some issues in my art that are important to me, like climate change and the effects human activity is having on the animal kingdom.” There’s no doubt she will find success in other avenues, should she choose to pursue them with as much determination as she has done working in ceramics so far. Her creativity is also something she has cultivated since childhood, and continues to allow it to bloom. She says, “Of course as you get older it gets harder to think outside the box and bring out your creativity, but I try to keep an open mind wherever I am in whatever I'm doing, and take mental notes of things that inspire me. I also like to look at what other artists are up to and see how I can take my pieces a little further.”