a r t i s t b i o
Thank you for visiting Baked Clay Studio and for your interest in my work. I am a ceramic artist and teacher with an MFA in Ceramics from Hood College ('09) and a BA in Art History from Middlebury College ('99).
I live just north of Washington, D.C. in historic Frederick, MD with my wife (she's a photographer) and our two daughters.
Since 2001, I have been a full-time high school teacher; teaching Ceramics + AP 3D Design.
In 2012, I became an Adjunct Professor at Hood College, teaching "History of Ceramic Arts" for the college's MFA Program. I have also directed the History of Ceramics Lecture Series, which hosts curators, archaeologists, and art historians from the Smithsonian, the Walters Museum, and the area's universities.
In the Fall of 2013, I also joined the Loyola University faculty; teaching evenings and weekends as an Adjunct Professor.
In 2014, I was honored to be named a Top 10 Finalist for the Martha Stewart "American Made" contest (Q&A interview below).
Most recently, I was a Resident Artist in Onishi, Japan where I spent the summer working at Shiro Oni Studio, just over an hour north of Tokyo.
My own studio practice is focused on designing modern interpretations of the Eastern temple bell. I also enjoy designing functional tableware and interior design pieces that allow me to explore a diverse range of modern forms + ancient-looking surface finishes.
VISIT MY TEACHING WEBSITE
teaching philosophy | selected student works | artist statement
Just click the button below to check it out!
Martha Stewart Awards
American Made Q&A with Cameron Petke
MS: TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS.
CP: Baked Clay Studio was launched as I was completing my 60-credit MFA in Ceramics, while teaching full-time, just after my 2nd daughter was born. It is truly a labor of love. I create my own work in the available moments between lessons with my students, with my daughters playing next to my wheel on the weekend, or in the quiet moments of the night in my tiny basement studio when the kids are in bed. I began making bells right after my daughters were born, because they are symbols for beginnings + endings, and their sound can signal moments of tranquil thought + contemplation; a concept especially important in the age of social media and the 24-hour news cycle. Each bell I make has a clear-ringing and unique tone and design experiments are done to determine the ideal shape, size, and firing temperature needed for pleasing acoustics. "Baked Clay" references the raw clay surfaces I use to mimic quarry walls, baked earth, marble sculpture, and the weathered and worn patina of time.
MS: TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORKSPACE, SHOP, OR STUDIO.
CP: I live & work just north of DC in historic downtown Frederick, MD. I teach at a local high school and often create work in between lessons or alongside my students there. I also teach the clay courses at Loyola University in Baltimore and have begun to do the same; working next to my students. My favorite workspace, however, is at home. I have carved out a small, but intimate, studio space in our basement, surrounded by a furnace, a radio, some drying + display shelves, and regular visits from my two young daughters (both aspiring potters with their own wheel pulled up next to mine). My studio, like any other artist will tell you, is a refuge. It is a place to escape the noise of the world, slow down, and put your hands to work as they were meant to be. Time stops there. Ideas don't. It's a pressure cooker for productivity. This is where images of Neolithic pots + 20th c. Modernism merge with college memories of swimming in VT marble quarries while studying Bernini's masterworks.
MS: WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
CP: I'd have to say other artists and their work ethic first. Their grit especially. A big box store can open on every other block and hundreds of new crafts businesses will pop up online the next year. They know it's not necessarily a solid 9-5 with a 401k, but their passion drives them to carve out their niche despite the challenges + setbacks. I'm also inspired by the open-source education other ceramic artists offer to each other. Without the fear of plagiarism or the want of compensation, these artists and professors inspire one another and offer guidance simply so handmade craftsmanship endures. My own aesthetic is inspired by exploring the endless potential of the raw + unglazed ceramic surface, and the challenge of marrying the sleek profiles of Modern design with ancient Neolithic surface qualities. Music drives my process; news stories the concepts. I am also a huge fan of the work (and working partnership) of Hans Coper and Lucie Rie. Both subtle + earthshaking at the same time.
MS: WHAT MAKES YOUR BUSINESS STAND OUT?
CP: "Stand out" makes this a difficult question for a deferential Midwesterner, and, like all makers, self-promotion is usually the hard part. I do believe there is something unique, in that, I make personal temple bells; not a common object to re-create in clay. My business is rooted in a desire to share carefully crafted objects for one's home or garden to usher in moments of peace and contemplation. Each is a symbolic sculpture and a functional object at the same time. My interior design pieces, my blackboard mugs, my marbled porcelain serving ware, all of my work actually, began in a workspace where I was surrounded by students. Their curiosity is contagious and being watched by them has fostered, in me, a commitment to consistently push the quality of the work on my shelves. These objects I make are special to me, because they are used in the special daily rituals of life: having a cup of tea, serving a family meal, ringing in a wedding, or meditating in the quiet hours of the day.
MS: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE AN ASPIRING CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR?
CP: The difference between a hobby and a career is not just the paycheck, but a shift in perspective of what's most important. We do this once, so a firm commitment to pursuing an absolutely great life and a little bit of grit to help you get up when you hit an obstacle or two, are the first essential ingredients for a life as a craftsman. After that, just smile, enjoy it, and be present in your day to day, because the alternative is often awful. Make what you love. The rest will be wonderful because you're doing that.
MS: WHAT DOES AMERICAN MADE MEAN TO YOU?
CP: The foundation here was built on exploration and the need to begin something new and accept all newcomers. I guess that's it. American Made means endless exploration, limitless creativity, fearless choices taken on slim chances, and, at the same time, the encouragement of anyone with those same ideals. It means setting high standards of craftsmanship, marrying that with conceptual nuance, and building off of the plethora of international influences that are in our DNA. For me, American Made means representing a new generation of makers in an ever-growing global economy, with every intention of keeping it local, personal, inspired, and finely crafted.