So, this is a particularly special edition of our blog. While we truly love and appreciate all our artists, Danielle Pugel, affectionately known as Dani, holds a particularly special place in our hearts. We had the pleasure of working directly with Dani at AMACO. We thank her for the legacy of Test Tile Tuesday. Watching Dani work is like watching a small machine. She throws, carves, pinches; she draws clouds, polka dots and stripes. (We always know when we stumble across a piece of her work around here.) Now out west, Dani works with more sculptural pieces, exploring graphic patterns, and remains loyal to her adorable mugs and pinched jewelry dishes. Dani, we are proud of you. (And we miss you... and your polka dots.)
How did you come to be interested in working with clay?
Before high school, like when I was 14 or 15, I worked for an artist who made wooden collectible spoons. I also learned how to weld around that time and decided I wanted to do art FOREVER- specifically stuff that involved fire. So my freshman year I signed up for a bunch of art classes and an introductory 3D class I picked had a clay project and I just fell in love with the material!
What inspires your work?
I’ve always been fascinated by language and communication as well as organization and categorization. My work is a little loud with the colors and overdone with patterns but that’s my way of using the material to communicate my personal energy and my touch! The people of clay also inspire me- I used to work for AMACO managing social media and had the opportunity to meet hundreds of clay people and there’s just something special about how clay impacts people.
What’s your favorite thing about clay?
Oh! It’s so hard to pick one thing. Maybe it’s how there is not just one way to do it- there are so many options and different approaches to shaping your own clay experience. This means both with the tools and materials but also with how you make your career work.
What has been the most challenging part of pursuing ceramics?
My main challenge in clay has only started getting real since I moved out of Indianapolis. Working at AMACO during and after my undergrad provided me with discounted materials and a functioning studio I could use for free. I also traded my weekend time to work at a ceramic studio across town in exchange for space. Since I moved to Arkansas, I have been bouncing around studios assisting and teaching and have yet to settle down for too long at any one space- causing my work to suffer. I also have problems knowing when it is time to be in the studio and when I should make myself available for the other two jobs that I have here. It’s all worth it though!
Which AMACO products do you always find yourself going back to? How do these products speak to your work?
I have always loved the AMACO Velvet Underglazes - there are so many different ways to use them! They are great for handpainting, slip trailers, and also can be used easily for printing- so perfect for making all of my patterned work pop! I also love the stability and colors of the Celadon line and prefer HF-9 as my cone 6 clear of choice.
If you were an ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?
Salted Caramel- pretty sure I am already made out of it from how much I’ve eaten.
Who was your childhood hero?
MY DAD (he’s the best.)
You find a genie lamp and are granted three wishes: what are they? (Play by the rules: no bringing people back from the dead, no making people fall in love, no killing people, no asking for more wishes.)
- Ceramics forever- no other jobs.
- An unwavering ability to always eat healthy no matter what.
What element do you most closely identify with?
Copper, I think.