Originally from New Hampshire I moved to Catskill six months ago after living in Manhattan and Brooklyn for more than 29 years. In 2002, after working for many years in the music industry and in a small start-up during the dot com boom I felt an urge to do something completely different with my free time. I wanted to meet different people and step outside my comfort zone. I had recently traveled to Spain and Mexico and fell in love with their pottery, collecting several pieces.
There was a paint-your-own pottery studio in my neighborhood that had hand building and wheel throwing classes. I took hand building classes every Saturday morning for one year because I wanted to really learn the feel of clay, how it reacts in your hands and how you can manipulate it. Throughout that first year I saw other students throwing on the wheel during open studio times and it intrigued me, so then I started taking wheel throwing classes every week. For several years I thoroughly enjoyed spending a good part of my weekend in the ceramic studio, enjoying it as a hobby, continuing to learn from different instructors and being able to make mugs, bowls, plates, and vases for myself and my family.
In 2011, I decided to open an Etsy shop-the beginning of FisheyeBrooklyn. I grew up in a small rural town in New Hampshire and we spent most summer vacations near the ocean off the coasts of New England. I had been making small bowls that were pinched and pulled by hand with edges that were a bit thinner than a traditional pinch bowl. They were inspired by the numerous shells I had collected over the years and they became the main focus of my shop in the beginning. I carried this pinched edge look into some of my other bowl, plate and vase designs as well.
As I took the step into selling my ceramics, I joined a larger communal ceramic studio in 2012 where I would have my own space to work whenever I wanted to. Not being restricted to open studio hours allowed me the time and the freedom to experiment more and to produce more work.
My ceramic education continued as I took trips and workshops to learn different methods of ceramics. In 2013 I joined a Potters For Peace (pottersforpeace.org) brigade for two weeks in Nicaragua and Honduras, learning about their water filtration factory and visiting several rural pottery communities. We worked side by side with these potters, learning from each other. I learned more about pottery in those two weeks, both from the local potters and from the other participants of the brigade, all potters from around the U.S. and Canada.
In 2015 I took a two week soda and salt firing workshop at Penland School of Craft in North Carolina. Once again, I learned more about pottery in those two weeks than I had in tren years of weekend classes. I also did a five-day wood firing residency at Salem Art Works in Salem, NY in 2016 with two studio mates. It was a very hands on experience learning to load and fire a small, top-loading wood kiln.
I continued to add new items to my Etsy shop as I gained more confidence in putting my work out in the world. In 2014 I was contacted by a buyer from Food52.com. They had a newish online shop, selling all kinds of kitchen and homeware items. They discovered my pinched edge blue porcelain soup bowl in my Etsy shop and wanted to also sell it in their shop. The buyer visited my studio a few months later and saw my shell pinch bowls. For that holiday season we collaborated on a slightly new design of these bowls that has become exclusive to Food52.com-the gold dip pinch bowl. I now sell eight versions of this bowl with them, plus two versions of the soup bowl, five dinnerware sets, serving bowls, and platters. Visit and view my variations on my designs at food52.com/shop/merchants/fisheyebrooklyn
FisheyeBrooklyn continued to grow organically. In early 2015 I was contacted by Rich Torrisi, a chef who with his partners, owns several NYC restaurants including Carbone, Santina, Dirty French, ZZ’s Clam Bar and Parm. He was opening a smaller, intimate restaurant and had seen my work in my Etsy shop. We collaborated on a pinched edge pasta bowl with gold designs reminiscent of flowers. Unfortunately the restaurant never opened, but two years later he contacted me again. He and his partners had just purchased the Four Seasons restaurant in the historic Seagrams Building and he was interested in using another bowl design I had previously proposed. He also introduced me to his pastry chef, Stephanie Prida. I ended up making wavy pasta bowls with a silver design for Chef Torisi and large plates and bowls with silver edges for Chef Prida that are being used in their restaurant, The Pool. This was a huge job for a producer of small-batch handmade ceramics and took several months to complete. By this time I was fortunately a full-time ceramicist as I had decided to quit my day job in mid-2015. I threw, trimmed, and glazed all the bowls (130) and with the help of an assistant, made and glazed over 200 plates with clay slabs and slump molds. It was an incredible learning experience and I was fortunate to be working with a client who understood the process of handmade ceramics. Also, the silver design and edging is done with white gold luster and can scrape off if not taken care of properly, so they agreed to hand wash all these items – unheard of in a large restaurant.
I collaborated with a couple additional restaurants over the past few years. In 2017 I made several styles of my shell pinch bowls for a restaurant in San Francisco-Avery Restaurant. In order to make them a bit more durable for a restaurant setting, I kept the edges a bit thicker. They include a gold luster design and edging and are also being hand washed by the restaurant. I made small shell pinch bowls to be sold in the accompanying wine store of The Lost Kitchen restaurant in Maine in 2018.
I continue to develop and grow FisheyeBrooklyn focusing mainly on modern, organically-shaped functional ceramics for the table and home, as well as restaurants.
I’m constantly inspired by the shapes and textures nature has to offer. I’m also inspired by these same things in more urban environments – the texture or peeling paint on a building, the graffiti on walls. When I see something that catches my attention and I think how cool it could look in clay I usually take a photo to refer back to.
I’ve always been surrounded by creative people and I’m delighted to move to an area that’s full of them. The creative community in Catskill has been incredibly helpful and welcoming. With the help of Sharon at GCCA, I was able to find a storefront studio space on Main Street, one of my main goals. Besides having plenty of space to work in, it will also give me the opportunity to show and sell some of my work directly to customers. I’m excited to meet more people as I become part of the community. I’m at my space a lot of the time, so please stop by and introduce yourself.
Visit Fisheyebrooklyn.com and follow Kim Gilmour on Instagram @fisheyebklyn