MIRI ORENSTEIN

Miri is an illustrator and ceramist based in Manhattan, New York. Originally from Haifa, Israel, Miri brings a unique style to her ceramics, after discovering the medium when she made the big move to the States. Below we talk to Miri about her creative projects and her love of the clay medium.

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Hey Miri!

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your creative aesthetic?!  

I was always obsessed with making, and always learning a new creative thing: painting, beads, origami, very old photo editing software, interior design, photography, graphic design—the list is so long! Although I had so many areas of interest, I always tried to find just one word to define my creative style and form of work. I felt stuck, like I was fighting with myself. It's only been lately that I've started to finally understand that I can't define myself with only one word. I love creative, art, design, and craftsmanship, and I guess that I'll always find new creative forms and subjects that suit me at the moment—I just need to go with it.

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We love that you’re not limiting yourself by attaching labels to your practice.

We absolutely adore your ceramic planters and creations in the office, they’re so sweet! How did you discover the love of clay and what is it about pottery that you’re drawn too?

A few months after I moved to New York several years ago, I took my first pottery class. Before the move, I had worked as a graphic designer in Israel and I knew that the move to NYC would be a great time to try other fields.

It took me a few weeks to fall in love with pottery, and another few weeks to understand that I could draw on a piece and create my own unique designs. Then it was another year of intense and obsessive training until I was able to make a proper piece that I really loved and could be really proud of. Pottery's not that intuitive a process—you have to gain a lot of new skills and it takes a lot of practice, like playing an instrument. At that time of my life, I needed to learn to believe in myself. Learning something from scratch was so fulfilling, and after working at a computer for so long, it was so amazing to work with my hands, get dirty, and make whatever I wanted! I enjoy the messiness of the work process before it finally becomes a fine piece: there's something so satisfying in that process. And the functionality of the result makes it even more fun!

At that time of my life, I needed to learn to believe in myself

Your illustrations translate beautifully across from paper to your pots. Do you plan your designs before transferring them onto the pot or simply go with the flow?

I wish I could go with the flow! I always wanted to be that kind of artist, to draw intuitively, a different subject every time, and everything from my head! But I'm completely the opposite. In my process, I always make a lot of sketches until I find the final design that I will actually proceed with. For the illustrations that decorate my pots, I've created basic templates of the "ladies" for each product so they'll all be pretty much the same shape and size, then I draw each one differently. 

These days, I'm working on a new collection in which I use a screen-print technique. That way, I can get the perfect, fine accuracy that I aspire to. This new method might also give me more time to try out new ideas and new work techniques. So many ideas to try—so little time.

Eee exciting things! When it comes to ceramics, what/who are you most inspired by?

Wow! There are so many ceramicists I love! Every day I'm exposed to new artists on the marvelous (and horrible!) Instagram. This probably won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows her work: Rami Kim influenced the way I observe and "see" design and ceramic art. I adore her professionalism in search of material and shape, and her preoccupation with repetitive motifs and the female figure—a recurring theme in my work throughout my life.

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Being based in the incredible city of New York, how do you find the creative scene in NYC? And what is your favourite place to visit for inspiration or a creative day out?

In the beginning I found this incredible city and its amazing creative scene very exciting, but also a bit overwhelming. There's a ton of possibilities every minute and you always feel like you might miss something unforgettable. Today my best recommendation for inspiration is to not miss the subway! Every line has its own unique character and every station has a different and inspiring story!

As we are super nosey here at Ohh Deer, we want to know what your studio space is like! Is it a little corner of your room, a pottery studio or maybe an attic space? And do you find this is the area you are most productive?

I work on my ceramics at a beautiful sculpture and ceramics place. The space is so inspiring and it's pretty quiet in there. Everyone is very focused on their work and it's easy for me to stay focused when I'm working in there, too. But when I'm not working on my pottery I'm working from my home. My big dining table has become my official workspace, although most of the time I'm actually working on my sofa—which is so not helpful at keeping me focused and productive! So I'm still in a process of becoming more "responsible and mature" and sitting in a proper chair (:

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A final and nice and easy question – what is your favorite shape/style of pot to make?

The world of ceramics is so vast—there are so many things to explore that I haven't even thought of yet! But right now, my favorite and most challenging shapes on the wheel are bottles. I especially love playing with sharp edges. It's so pleasing for me to make such a clean look using a handcrafted process and technique. 

Thanks so much Miri!

You can find Miri using the links below:

Website: miriorenstein.com
Online shopmiriorenstein.com/shop
Instagram: instagram.com/miri_orenstein

Want to get in touch yourself? If you’re a creative with something to share we’d love to hear from you! Head to our contact page for more information!