Colour you can touch
Tactile, sensual and colourful, Tina Frey’s bowls, trays and vessels just beg you to touch them. Formed in the versatile, textural material of resin, each piece comes from a handmade clay mold, leaving the hand of the maker clearly visible in the charming finished product. From humble beginnings in 2007, when Tina started her company with just two bowl designs, her work has grown to incorporate vases, utensils, platters and even garden products, as well as a recent foray into working in bronze and copper. We caught up with the creative force behind these delicate pieces to find out what makes her tick creatively.
Why do you work in resin - what are the benefits, and what is it like to work with?
“I have always been fascinated with the material as it has such versatility and there are not many people who work with it. I like how it can be translucent, colourful, or very simple, pure white. It can look like glass, porcelain, or like stone, but it is a surprise when you touch and feel the pieces since it is not what you expect. The benefits are that it is not as fragile as glass or porcelain and can take on many forms and functions. I also like the contrast of the material when paired with the metals.”
You sculpt by hand in clay first - what does this add to the finished pieces?
“I like sculpting the pieces in clay first since I like the handmade feel and the wabi sabi, or imperfect nature, where the piece does not look machine-made. The pieces are completely made by hand since after they are sculpted in clay, a mold is made, then cast in resin in small batches, and hand sanded to achieve the soft matte finish.”
Colour seems incredibly important in your work - how do you select colour palettes?
“The colour changes with each season. I find it so inspiring to see colour in different combinations and it can give a totally different feel depending on how you put it together. It can be very calming and white, or dark and moody, or blue like the sea, or happy like colourful jelly beans and candies!”
The majority of your pieces are for serving food - how much are the colours connected to this?
“A lot of the pieces are suitable for serving food but when I sculpt the designs, I want them to have more than one utility and be multi-purpose. For example, a vessel can be used for food, your desktop, a vanity tray, for plants, or just be sculptural. It is meant to be many things and used throughout the house. It can look cohesive in a grouping and equally decorative by itself. The colours definitely add interest to the pieces and food can be served on something that is in an unexpected colour and not typically found in other dishes.”
How do you present and enjoy food at home?
“I like a mix of informal and traditional designs and it all mixes together very well. The simplicity of the designs are meant to be able to mix with many different styles from mid-century, to Scandinavian, modern, to vintage or antique pieces since I think it is fun to not stick to rules. Generally, my home style is more clean, simple, and modern designs that are timeless. I do have some classic pieces also and it all goes very well together.”
Can you tell us about how travel influences your work?
“I love travel and really enjoy seeing the different colours, cultures, landscapes, nature, architecture, and the sea. All of these things influence my work and I like translating what I see into three-dimensional sculpted forms and also into graphics in two dimensions. The colours from travels influence the colours of the collection each season. I love being near the ocean and the majority of my holidays revolve around a place where I am surfing or near the blue sea.”
Can you tell us a little about your studio?
“My studio is located in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. It is an industrial part of town that is changing to include art galleries, museums, and restaurants. It is nice to see the neighborhood coming to life. I love the sunlight in the studio in the mornings and I always get there really early before everyone else does. I sculpt all the designs in the studio and still take all the photographs for all the catalogues and website there, since it is a multi-purpose space. I enjoy seeing what I created come together in the picture I envisioned. I also love reading books, magazines, found objects, and blogs for inspiration.”
Photography credit: Tina Frey Designs