According to Apartment Therapy, if you want to have a perfect day in Charlotte, it must include a visit to Powder Studio. We totally agree, the dynamic duo of Nathan Tucker and Stephen James are taking on the world of traditional ceramics and raising the bar with their one of a kind porcelain housewares and lighting fixtures. The contemporary forms and witty details (check out their “choir” votive) bring a little levity and art into any home or office. Read our interview below to learn more about Stephen and Nathan and then be sure to pick up a piece for your space, or as a gift at the Vintage Charlotte Summer Market!
HCLT: Describe yourself in three words.
S – Eccentric, Resourceful, Sassy
N – Dreamers, Design-geeks, [mess]Makers
HCLT: When did you realize you were an artist?
S – I’ve loved the arts my entire life. I grew up taking art and performing arts classes and had a very musical family. After meeting Nathan, he introduced me to the process of slip casting and from there we jumped right into getting our hands dirty and creating crazy, cool stuff.
N- I think my parents knew before I did – I remember repeatedly getting in trouble for lighting things on fire in my sandbox and creating “projects” using the melted constituents… I caught on more slowly. My ‘AH HA’ moment was in my early 20s when I realized I could actually draw from life pretty well with my non-dominant hand. That was when I began to see my future as an artist.
HCLT: Who or what inspires you artistically?
S – In the overall creative concepts and design of our work we pull inspiration from Outer Space – how could you not be inspired by such a magnificent thing?! We pull from pop- culture references like space crafts to the very literal phases of the moon. As far as leading figures in the Ceramics World, we really admire the work of ceramic sculptor Thomas Schmidt. His work is actually not very similar to ours at first glance, but our materials and design processes are very similar; it’s refreshing and challenging to see a common process diverge to dissimilar destinations. In March, we got to see some of his works, shown at the Nelson-Atkins Museum while we were in Kansas City for NCECA (See photos here!), and we have plans to collaborate with Thomas on a lighting project in the coming months!
N – Stephen nailed this one. The ceramic process itself – the act of mining ordinary substances from the earth and affecting permanent chemical transformation via heating those ingredients to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit – mimics natural processes that occur at infinitely larger scales than our studio (and also leaves many aspects of our work totally out of our control). To us, our process is a microcosm that reflects the forces that created us and continue to shape the universe. Conceptually, it’s difficult not to take inspiration from such personal yet universal parallels with the ultimate creative force. So yes, we watch a lot of documentaries about Outer Space and I believe one can pretty easily see that in our work.
HCLT: Tell us about your current body of work?
S – Powder Studio creates handcast porcelain jewelry, homewares and lighting fixtures in small batches. We like to think of each new piece as a new member of a family whose personalities complement each other. Our goal is to bring a smile to your face. Whether you’re wearing a necklace or walking into a room where our pieces are displayed, we like to bring a spark of delight to daily life.
N – In the interest of economy, we create prototypes that fit in the palm of your hand, and then scale up our favorites. This means you can usually score S, M & L sizes in your favorite pieces. Right now, we’re working on LARGE ‘Rocket’ and ‘Mothership’ LED pendant lights, and a few surprise items for the VTGCLT Summer Market on June 18.
HCLT: What do you think is the most valuable art experience in the Carolinas right now?
S – In the Charlotte Area; I loved Skyline Artists in Residence shows at the old Good Year building in Uptown Charlotte. I loved seeing artists from various disciplines get a chance to display, perform, or install their works around an event that cultivated a community environment.
N – Ditto – the Skyline series was excellent. The recent Cherry Pie show at Union Shop was relatively smaller but well worth the trip out to the airport area.
HCLT: What is your number one art piece/place/event in this area?
S – I really have the feels for the McColl Center for Art and Innovation, but lately I’ve really enjoyed smaller neighborhood/local art shows popping up in various venues. The Arts are so important in defining our community. Being present to experience local art, meet artists and art enthusiasts, and build relationships around art provide a much more enriching experience than just attending an art show at a gallery or museum.
N – Anyone who hasn’t visited our studio building (The Hart Witzen Annex in NoDa) is missing out on the unglamorous yet fabulous day-to-day life of the local artist community. Any time – day or night – you can witness sculptors, painters and designers making a HUGE MESS, “making it work” and having fun. There are no rules, and I usually enjoy being a part of the process more than the final result.
HCLT: What book is on your nightstand right now?
S – When I See The Wild God
N – My iPhone, with a Bernie Sanders article on the screen haha
HCLT: Best meal in the Charlotte area?
S – My house. I’m a banging cook….and we have a fire pit for after dinner drinks. (;
N – I consider myself relatively smart, so I’m not going to disagree with that. He really is a tremendous chef.
HCLT: Where can we see your work?
S – You can find a custom color line of our lighting in Frock Shop on Central Avenue, or visit our BRAND SPANKIN’ NEW website: www.powder-studio.com. We post special events and pop-up markets on our social media outlets and we will be at Vintage Charlotte on June 18th.
N – You can also come visit our studio, but you can’t wear anything nice because you are guaranteed to be covered in white powder when you leave. We’re open by appointment only, so just pop over to our website and shoot us an email to schedule a visit.
HCLT: What is up next?
S – If we told you it would ruin the surprise.
N – Livin’ the dream duh!
Keep on Dreaming, guys because we are seriously enjoying the fruits of your labor! Also… when can we come over for dinner? 🙂