Heather Knight is a North Carolina-based ceramic artist. Her work in porcelain extracts patterns from nature and presents them in their simplest repetitive forms. I don't recall how I came across Heather's work - perhaps it was a random find at Etsy. I can't remember. But I do know that since then, the images of her work have lingered in my subconscious despite the fact that I've never seen them in person (this will change, I promise myself...) I recently got in touch with her to ask her about her work. Am I imagining it, or is there science lurking behind those micro-tile textures?

Textural Wall Tiles

Textural Wall Tiles by Heather Knight of Element Clay Studio

How long have you been creating art professionally? What’s your background?

I started my studio in 2007 and became a full time artist in 2008. I earned my BFA in Ceramics in 2006.

Will you describe your work for those of us unfamiliar with it?

My work is what i would call Organic Modern in style. I work solely in porcelain, and focus on texture, using nature as an inspiration and a "less is more" attitude. I hand make bowls, tiles and other decorative and useful items for the home.

Urchin Bowl

Urchin bowl by Heather Knight of Element Clay Studio

What inspires you as an artist?

I use nature, fashion and interior design as spring boards for my creative process. I pick up things on walks, but also find inspiration in unexpected places. It may be an art opening, a magazine spread, an awesome corner of an antique store, an interesting seed pod, or a dream........ there are magical sparks that happen in a split second where everything makes sense and I see how it will make its way into my work.

Micro Tile: Hydrangea

Hydrangea Micro Tile by Heather Knight of Element Clay Studio

How do you incorporate science or the natural world into your art? Why do you do so?

Working with clay is a pretty "earthy" profession, I am literally working with dirt to make permanent art, which is kind of fascinating all by itself. But I also just find nature to be this unending source for new ideas. Texture, form and color pop up in unexpected places. People always think my work is solely based on the ocean and are surprised when I pull out dried magnolia pods, rocks, seeds and flowers from my inspiration bowls in the studio.

If you could travel in time to any point in the universe’s history - forward or back - where would you go and what would you see/do?

I'd go to the late 50s, early 60s; I would get a really cheap loft in New York and be an artist!

Do you have any wise words for aspiring artists who are inspired by science and nature?

Don't copy nature, find ways to use it and make it your own. The best artists have a concrete point of view that is easily recognizable; use nature as a way to define yours.

Many artists open Etsy shops but fail to thrive. You seem as though you have really built a viable business on the platform. To what do you owe your success (aside from beautiful work - that goes without saying!) ?

The secret to my success on Etsy is really "time on task." I have worked hard on developing my product line, taking great pictures, and providing excellent customer service. I take the extra time and push myself hard to succeed. Etsy has great articles about how to find success in their "Seller Handbook." Any time my shop is slow, I look through the handbook and find things I can improve upon, or maybe find things that I need to learn. For example, when they changed the search feature to relevancy, I had to change all of my titles and tags!

Heather's work is available through her Etsy page. More samples of her work can be seen at the Element Clay Studio website.