Recently we had a chance to meet with one of our ceramists, Mike Farabee. He has shown with us at MADE for over 5 years now. His items have a lovely, organic flow to them, often mimicking shapes and forms you would find through one of the many foundations of scientific study.
How did you get started creating your pieces?My very first introduction was a lost wax class at Phoenix College in ‘95. I visited a ceramics teacher I knew one night during class, and the energy in the room was a huge draw for me, so I decided to give ceramics a try too. I have been creating ceramics since Aug 1998. I have a PHD in Botany and Geology and I taught higher education (until my recent retirement), so what initially started as a stress release became something I truly enjoyed, which I then began exploring through classes and workshops.
What’s the favorite part of your work/what you make?Most of my work is wheel thrown, and I love the challenge of that. My favorite item that I make is usually my tea pots; they are a combination of thrown clay and hand milled details.
How do you express your creativity through your work?Texture is always a draw for me, I love to experiment with what you can accomplish texturally. One of my more popular mugs is wheel thrown and features what looks like multiple lines, but is in fact one line that starts at the bottom and moves continuously to the top. Coming from a science background, it is interesting to be able to play with textures to mimic something like cross bedded sandstone. Or even in terms of biology or botany, to be able to look at a plant stem cross section under scope and be able to play with similar representations. Color application is another moment for me to play creatively, as it is something of a guessing game what your final results will be after firing.
What brings you joy?
Happy accidents, like working on a piece and being concerned that it won’t work and then something changes and you land where you need to be. Similarly, struggling with a piece and you feel like you need to walk away from it, then coming back to it and it has grown on you. Learning always brings me joy and of course my wife Anne.
What challenge(s) have you overcome?My biggest challenge within my work has been, believe it or not, learning to center clay on the wheel properly. There is the initial accomplishment but really learning which hand and what pressure application best suits my ability took me some time. With those subtle improvements my practice really improved. Time and energy will always be a challenge, but some of my work I’ve liked best has been when my academic brain has been worn out and the studio time allows me to open up into a creative flow.
Anything exciting in the works/coming up for you?I’m working now preparing for the fall season, with new color palettes, opportunities and new approaches in firing. I am switching to a mid-fire technique which fires the clay at lower temperatures; essentially the difference between electric firing instead of gas.
What do you wish for the world?Peace
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I hope to have more opportunities to create work now that I am retired. You can find more information about my work and my wife Anne Rassmussen’s on our website