Artisan: Jill Zeidler

This artist’s functional, whimsical ceramics bring art to everyday life.

By Kate Hull ∙ Photography by Tori Pintar


Inside Workshop, an art and design boutique in downtown Jackson, Jill Zeidler’s pottery stands out for its simple elegance. Zeidler, who took up ceramics at age nineteen, crafts each piece by hand from a slab of clay in her new studio and shop, which opened in June in Big Sky, Montana.

Susan Fleming, the founder and owner of Workshop, and an artist herself, has carried Zeidler’s pottery since she opened the boutique in 2010. “Jill’s work bridges the gap between modern and classic,” Fleming says. “It can be a part of a modern home or sit on a giant farm table amid rustic interiors.”

Zeidler’s work also bridges the gap between form and function. One of her stoneware platters, pitchers, or bowls—her palette is restrained to neutrals and soft pastels, and she does both glossy and matte glazes—is as comfortable being used to serve food and drink to family and friends as it is on a shelf as a statement piece. Zeidler sometimes stamps pieces with imagery, a process called xerography transfer, inspired by the landscape: Some pieces at Workshop have honeybees, flowers, or arrows on them.

“[Collectors] of my work seem to enjoy the simplicity, the colors, and the unique shapes,” Zeidler says. “Whether they are purely sculptural or meant to serve food, their modern, organic look is a draw.”

“[Collectors] of my work seem to enjoy the simplicity, the colors, and the unique shapes. Whether they are purely sculptural or meant to serve food, their modern, organic look is a draw.”

[ Jill Zeidler, artist and potter ]

As a young girl, Zeidler spent hours at craft fairs with her grandmother, a seamstress. Days spent working alongside her—whether sewing or selling—left a mark. Zeidler started studying ceramics at Northern Arizona University before temporarily transferring to Montana State as part of the National Student Exchange program. After she graduated (from NAU) in 1998, Zeidler made her way back to Montana, where galleries throughout the state exhibited her work, which, at the time, was predominantly sculptural and inspired by the Southwest landscape familiar from her college years. “My body of work was large-scale sculptures that were relevant to rock formations and mimicked nature’s found objects,” Zeidler says.

Around 2005, Zeidler began to apply the same style she used in her sculptural work to functional pieces. She says the transition was natural and that it is still evolving. “The biggest difference is now every time I make something functional, I work on how it will perform: how a teapot pours, how a mug handle feels in the holder’s hand, and how deep a bowl should be,” she says.

Whether sculptural, functional, or a mix, Zeidler’s work is organic and loose. She works with slabs, hand-stretching and joining them as you might a sewing pattern. For example, her “gourd”-style bowls start as two separate pieces: a bottom and then the rim/ring. Both are cut from clay using patterns before Zeidler joins them, placing the ring on top of the round bottom slab. Each bowl has its own character, which becomes a unique part of that piece’s look. “That is just the way they are born,” Zeidler says.



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