It's easy to imagine these miniature vessels coming to life at night on their shelves, breaking into song and dance in a Looney Tunes moment of … cuteness. Heidi Bekebrede is the Northern California multimedia and ceramic artist who crafts this Cuteware collection. She tells us that her inspiration “is my desire to convey the joyful feeling that is evoked by the Silly Symphony cartoons from the 1930s. All the bees, trees, cats and dogs are singing and dancing with the plates and cups in a lovely colorful world of happiness. I make colorful cartoon folk art that is sometimes functional or at least pretending to be useful.”
Bekebrede studied studio art at the University of California, Davis in the late 1970s, under the tutelage of Robert Arneson and Roy De Forest, artists famous for their funky, irreverent styles.
Along the way, she fell in love with the medium of clay. She recalls a bumpersticker Arneson had on his van that read (tongue-in-cheek), “Ceramics, the World’s Most Fascinating Hobby.” “Clay comes in so many colors and textures, and glazes are infinite in variety of color and translucency, so making things out of clay and firing them in a kiln is always interesting. Even after 35 years of experience, I still get excited to open up the lid of my electric kiln and see the results,” said the artist.
Bekebrede operates her studio in Davis, producing her wares to sell at local galleries and museums (the Artery in Davis, the Crocker Museum store in Sacramento), a selection of art fairs, and direct to customers via her Cuteware Etsy shop. In her studio, she is kept company by her canine muses (and sometime models): granddogger (and Instagram star), Mr. Wolfgang Cuddles, a Shih Tzu; visiting from Italy. He is joined by Sweet Baby Boo-Boo (a Brussels Griffon); and her locally famous Dachshund, Frederick Von Weiner. Freddie is known for his speedy exploits at regional Doxie races.
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The artist also creates custom orders ranging from canine ornaments to commemorative plates. The kilns will be stoked and the assortment of clay characters will be singing and dancing as soon the lights go down.
For more information on Cuteware go to etsy.com/shop/Cuteware.