Kevin Byrne spends a lot of time in what used to be his garage making pottery. All sorts of stuff: plates, mugs, bowls, soup tureens, canister sets, lamps, trays, chip ‘n’ dips, sandwiches — you name it, he’s probably made it.
“The objects that I make from clay are made a few at a time and one kind at a time. I use a warm colored clay body that I have developed over the years and glazes that are compatible with it. The richly patterned brushwork is made with an eye to complement the form of the vessel, as are the colors. The shapes and kinds of pots that I make have developed from many sources: nature, art history, suggestions that people make as I meet them at art shows and, of course, personal hunches and insights from the experience of making pots for over 35 years.
“My inspiration also comes from the thrill of seeing someone else lovingly hold something I’ve made in their hands.”
Portrait of the Artist Wearing a Name Tag
Among other things, this picture, taken in late 2007, clearly demonstrates that the artist is who he claims to be.
The Artist Went to School.
For art! Kevin Byrne has a B.A. in Sociology from LeMoyne College, Syracuse, New York; 60 hours of intensive, searing fine arts coursework from Phillips University, Enid, Oklahoma; and an M.A. in Ceramics from the University of Tulsa. This allows him to thoughtfully peer out his studio window while throwing pots and authoritatively theorize about societal norms among the squirrels in his back yard.
Ceramics and You
Cooking for hours at more than 2,000 degrees fahrenheit tends to stiffen a material’s resolve. This is certainly true of the clay Kevin Byrne uses, which starts its time with him as a pleasant, if quiet, pile of dense mush and ends as a magnificent work of stoneware, hand-decorated and ready to hold some soup for you while you eat.
Questions Some Might Frequently Ask About Stoneware, Particularly the Type Produced and Sold by Kevin M. Byrne, M.A.
Q: Is this stuff microwave-safe?
A: Dude, of course. The temperatures in your microwave will almost certainly not exceed your dishes’ firing temperature.
That said, here’s one very important thing to keep in mind when microwaving ceramics: Clay retains a significant amount of heat — much more than your plastic microwavable vessels do — and can become maybe a little bit hotter than what you’d normally want to put your hands on. Get a deeply trustworthy set of potholders, is what we’re saying here.
Q: Is this stuff dishwasher-safe?
A: The short answer is yes.
The long answer is yyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssss.
Q: This stuff doesn’t have any lead in it or anything, does it? Like the glazes, or the clay, or —
A: — I’m just gonna stop you right there. No, it does not. There is no risk whatsoever associated with purchasing, eating from, or giving as a gift the ceramic stylings of Mr. Byrne. His pottery is a reward-only situation.
Q: So is stoneware breakable?
A: We would categorize stoneware as being roughly as breakable as Pyrex glass, the really sturdy (also microwave-safe) stuff for cooking.
Stoneware is extremely sturdy stuff, and if you take even decent care of it, it’ll basically last forever. Ask an archaeologist what s/he finds when digging up ancient civilizations, and that archaeologist will give you a direct answer: Secret armor and weaponry that the dinosaurs used in the epic battles they waged against one another. Ask an archaeologist what else s/he finds, and the other direct answer? Pottery fragments.
Clearly, then, your mission is clear: Buy some pots from Kevin Byrne, then protect them from harm well enough that the alien archaeologists who examine the charred, blackened remains of our planet four million years from now will find them fully intact and ready to use for serving whatever unfathomable protein solution they sustain themselves on.
Q: Is it true that purchasing stoneware made by independent artists in said independent artists’ former garages prolongs life, encourages more deeply felt friendships, and can ultimately boost the quality of life among humans by a factor of up to six?
A: When combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise; an open mind, accommodating personality, and sense of fun; and a rewarding career coupled with a loving family and rich inner life, the purchase of handmade stoneware from an independent artist can absolutely do all these things, though keep in mind that no stoneware is foolproof.