Frances Palmer has been making ceramics since 1987. A trained art historian, the artist has long been drawn to working with her hands. Palmer began as a printmaker before diving into the world of pottering and gardening. Her artistic philosophy speaks to those hoping to tangibly engage with their pieces. Palmer’s work is created to be used. Her handmade ceramics are functional art. The potter produces vases, platters, cake stands, mugs and more that can be enjoyed daily. She is known for her signature white glazed pieces featuring soft curves and beaded details.
Palmer works out of a barn, which has been converted into a studio, at her home in Connecticut. The artist designed a lifestyle that not only allows her to pursue her artistic passions but also supports and sustains them. In her backyard, Palmer grows the flowers that fill her vases and urns — often dahlias (the flower that kickstarted her green thumb). In her kitchen, she bakes treats and cooks meals to fill her platters and dishes. Palmer also shoots her pieces for her social media pages and website. The artist’s aptitude to try new things and self-sufficiency comes through in her work.
In Life in the Studio: Inspiration and Lessons on Creativity, Palmer writes “What goes on my platters and in my bowls and mugs is as important to me as what goes into producing them; I’ve whipped up innumerable meals in the kitchen to feed my family, and entertained friends and clients in both the house and the studio. It’s all about living with the clay.”
Palmer appreciates the uncertainty of her craft, finding joy in the surprises afforded by the kiln and glazing process. Some of her pieces feature the Japanese technique of kintsugi, piecing broken pottery back together with gold –– highlighting the beauty in breaking and in coming back together. Palmer is also inspired by ancient pottery and ceramics that prioritized both function and purpose. “My hope is that my work, too, conveys much more than its intended purpose, and that it encourages constant use,” she writes. “I imagine that it never sits in one place for too long, and that as the pot moves from shelf to table and back again, it communicates an appreciation of life’s moments, big and small.”
Palmer’s work has been featured in Vogue, Architectural Digest, The New York Times, Better Homes & Gardens and more. She has collaborated with luxury lifestyle brand AERIN and has sold her work in Barneys New York and Takashimaya. Annually, Palmer has exhibited at the North Haven Gallery. She lives in Connecticut with her family.