This Christmas, you’ll find hanging from the branches of trees all around Australia and the world, thousands of little white ceramic keepsake stars stamped lovingly with the name of someone precious in that home.
Each personalised star began its ceramic transformation in the tranquil open-air studio of Brisbane artist Kylie Johnson. In this creative space, bright Queensland sunlight filters through tall gum trees, falling upon stacks of freshly cut clay shapes, intriguing metal tools for stamping, and hands carefully sponging each clay piece with colour.
Kylie has nurtured her talents for illustration, poetry and ceramics into a bustling artistic business, keeping us enthralled with fresh creations each season.
During her study of Visual Arts and Film at QUT in Brisbane in the early 90s, Kylie Johnson met a group of artists and potters and became part of the group known as Amfora. With this group she rekindled her love of ceramics that was first instilled by her parents.
Kylie’s ceramic art practice starts and ends with words and poetry. Kylie’s words are the defining feature of her work like any mark or decoration would be for others. While working with Amfora, Kylie also self published three poetry books.
In 1996 Kylie set up her business paper boat press, in its early stages creating a boutique greeting card range featuring her own whimsical poems. This has now grown to include ceramic Christmas ornaments, ceramic jewellery, original illustrations and functional ceramic vessels.
Kylie’s Christmas range is eagerly anticipated each year. Alongside her trademark personalised name stars, we love the Christmas bird ornaments, delightful little tags for labelling your Christmas baking gifts like rum balls and sweet things, and her first illustrated 2012 Calendar.
It is important to Kylie for the words to be pared back and laid out in a way that is both deliberate and happenstance at the same time. Each letter stamped into the clay is done so to reflect the nature of the piece it is being stamped into, in a way that harmonises the two. The words are coloured deliberately to look inky and brown, with the occasional word highlighted in a different colour.
In 2008 Murdoch Books published Kylie’s first commercially published anthology of poems, count me the stars, a collection of her self published books. After the success of her first book, a once courageous heart was published in 2010.
Kylie has found that by putting her poems on ceramic pieces they have found a new audience in people who wouldn’t normally read poetry. The poems become a functional object that can be touched and treasured forever.