Local Spotlight: The Makers Behind Our Spring Collection

Local Spotlight: The Makers Behind Our Spring Collection


Spring is in the air, folks, and with it comes the promise of new beginnings and, in our case, the delightful chance to chat with Tess Kress, the remarkable talent behind The Minimalist Ceramist. Tess isn't just another artisan; she's a local Novato legend whose ceramic and now, thrillingly, cement curios have stolen the show at craft fairs far and wide - and let's not forget their coveted spot within our very own store. As the rain clouds started to lift, we found ourselves amidst the creative bustle of this month's West Coast Craft festival, where Tess was kind enough to sit down with us. She's here to spill the tea on her latest venture: a line of cement curios that promises to be as refreshing as a Spring breeze. So, buckle up, dear readers, as we dive into the world of Tess Kress, learning not just about the magic of molding earth into treasure but also about the journey of a creator continually reinventing her craft.


Journey from Hobbyist to Business Owner

Q: You've gone through a significant transformation from using ceramics as a creative outlet to becoming a business owner. Can you describe that journey?

A: "I first started ceramics in October of 2021, I thought it sounded fun. There was a pottery studio around the corner. It was my birthday, and so I was like, oh, I'm going to do something new and fun, because I've been stuck at home during the pandemic.

I fell in love right away, and I just couldn't imagine not working with clay as much as possible. And my children kept bringing home rocks and pinecones and acorns and leaving them all over the kitchen table, and I was like, I am making you a shelf to hold all of these, because I tried all the things I could find. I had gotten them a printer's tray, but it was not deep enough for their treasures. And so I made them shelves, and I just absolutely fell in love with it. And I was like, you know what? Other people need this too. And so I just kept making them, but then I can only have so many in my house. So I was offered a free booth at the Novato Art and Wine Festival, just because they had a little space available, and I was the artist in residence at the pottery studio. And it went really well, and it kind of just went from there. I was like, I think I'm going to turn this into a business."

Arch curios by The Minimalist Ceramist

The Creative Process and New Directions

Q: Can you tell us about the process of creating your pieces, especially your move to incorporating boldly colored cement?

A: "So I hand build all of my pieces out of ceramic. Previously, they were all one of a kind. So I worked with a slab of clay, and then I would just kind of pinch out and sculpt each of the little cubby areas in the curio shelf. Just this year, I started a cement line, and so I make the original out of clay. I start from the inside, and I work my way out using slabs, which is really fun because I don't know what the finished piece is going to look like until it's complete, and I just kind of keep adding cubbies until it feels done. And then after I fire that piece, I use it to make a silicone mold.  With that mold, I hand pour cement, and I use different pigments to get different really fun colors, and I have these really fun small batch handcrafted cement curio shelves. They're so cute."

Q: "I'm so happy that you've come to this point where you're just able to satisfy the demand!"

A: "Trial and error to get there, though! And an expensive endeavor."

Bold new colors by The Minimalist Ceramist

The Impact of Local Artistry

Q: How do you believe purchasing from local artists enriches the buyer's life or the community?

A: "There's something, there's some charm and ethos to a handcrafted item that just like can't be reproduced in mass production. And you're stimulating the economy and helping individuals. And I just, as a maker now, I recognize how much work goes into it and how much love and heart and soul. And I just am constantly trying to buy everything I possibly can from small makers because it's so important. And small shops because, you know, small shops go out and they're supporting the makers and they're supporting the economy. And oftentimes they're going above and beyond,"


If there’s anything we’ve learned from Tess (besides the fact that I now need approximately 17 tiny treasure curios in my life), it’s that creativity knows no bounds. We invite you to dive deeper into the whimsical world of The Minimalist Ceramist. Explore Tess's collection, marvel at her latest curios, and maybe, just maybe, find that piece that speaks directly to your soul. Follow Tess on Instagram for a daily dose of inspiration and behind-the-scenes peeks into her creative process that are as delightful and refreshing as stumbling upon a hidden garden in the middle of a city.

The wonderful Tess Kress, the creative mind behind The Minimalist Ceramist

So, what are you waiting for? Visit Tess’s website, follow her on social media, and become part of a story that extends far beyond the confines of this blog. Because in the end, supporting local artisans like Tess is not just about acquiring objects; it’s about inviting pieces of someone’s heart and soul into your home, and there’s truly nothing more beautiful than that.

Until next time, keep finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, and remember, the world is full of art and artists waiting to be discovered, supported, and cherished. Now go forth and let art invade your life in the most unexpected and wonderful ways.

Join the Bowerbird Family: Dive deeper into the Spring Collection and discover more stories like Tess's, celebrating local creativity and craftsmanship.

Explore Tess’s Work: Bring a piece of The Minimalist Ceramist into your home and experience the beauty of functional art, handcrafted with love.

About Tess Kress

Tess Kress is the founder of The Minimalist Ceramist, known for her unique ceramic and cement creations that blend functionality with aesthetic appeal. A self-taught artisan, Tess's journey reflects her deep commitment to craftsmanship and her community. Her work, beloved by the Bowerbird community and beyond, is a celebration of the art of the everyday.

Follow Tess on Instagram | Visit Tess's Website


    Back to blog

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.