MAR 05, 2022

Designer of the Day: Rick Hintze


About the Show

Centuries of ceramic traditions collapse into the hand-built coiled vessels made by Rick Hintze, whose balanced, statuesque works merge the ancient and the modern. Inspired by the picturesque landscapes surrounding his studio in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin, the esteemed potter animates each piece with imperfections—slight variations in curves, incidental markings—that speak to his kinetic process while evoking memory through the ages.

The most important thing you’ve designed to date: The most unique thing I have come up with is the clay and wood ash surface that varies from dark red brown to cornmeal yellow. The quality of this surface depends on an underlying stain of iron oxide, the thickness of application, and the temperature, atmosphere, and duration of the firing.

Describe the problem your work solves: I am trying to build forms that enclose elementary volumes that energize the surrounding space and that have varied surfaces in terms of color and texture that enhance rather than detract from the basic shapes. The building method I use (coiling) also lends itself to imperfection so that the surface curves are not geometrically perfect. For me this adds a sense of presence and personality to the forms.

Describe the project you are working on now: I am currently working on some large, round forms, concentrating on the sense of volume created by the proportions and the swelling of the curve of the profile from base to the neck of the pot. I am also paying particular attention to the termination of the neck and lip, experimenting with different shapes, sizes and surfaces to find what best enhances the existing form.

I work on more than one problem at a time, so I am also experimenting with some more or less vertical shapes, vaguely tree trunk like, and letting the coiling process express itself more without excessive scraping and paddling to smooth out the irregularities. I will be trying out some new surface treatments for these forms in terms of color and texture.

A new or forthcoming project we should know about: I have no commitment at present to a particular event. I am always working toward trying to create a coherent body of work.

What you absolutely must have in your studio: Solitude, quiet, music sometimes, podcasts occasionally, hot water for tea, good lighting.

What you do when you’re not working: I enjoy time to read, to cook, and exercise. In the summer I bicycle, play golf, and race a sailboat. In the winter I walk when conditions are good, play some indoor tennis, and otherwise ride a bike trainer.

Sources of creative envy: I would not use the word “envy.” I greatly admire ancient pottery as well as the work of many past and present potters and sculptors. If you are asking about inspiration, I think my visual faculties are at work almost constantly, taking in both the natural and man made, occasionally coming across something extraordinary, sometimes fleeting.

The distraction you want to eliminate: Because of the location of the studio, we get a lot of unexpected noises (traffic, sirens, tools or machines). These are the most distracting.