Quarantine Diaries: Susan McKinney of SKINNY Ceramics Shares Her New Works Created During the Pandemic

The pandemic has been challenging for everybody, and for makers, artisans, and artists it has presented some unique obstacles. In person events such as trade shows, exhibits, and markets that can be a big source of revenue and exposure have been cancelled or significantly compromised. Many retailers and galleries have closed up shop or greatly reduced their inventory purchases. It has forced makers to get creative in how they market and sell their work, and the products that they make. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. Here ceramic artist and industrial designer Susan McKinney shares some of the new and exciting works she has created during the pandemic, her “Quarantine Diaries”.

In lieu of in person events this year, I transformed my site into a place of discovery and surprise; a place to curl up and stay awhile. My Quarantine Diaries are stories of nature, a pandemic, and the artwork created in response to them.

Keeping my hands busy in clay is how I document time and process the world around me. Lately it’s become a means of survival. These entries represent my positive growth and broadened approach of material and technique over the past 6 months of quarantine. Living in an unexpected rhythm, a visual language emerged that is both old and new.


Sprung was originally created in response to an open call for a group show at Milan’s annual Salone del Mobile in April. I had big international dreams for this one; 2020 continues to prove it has bigger plans.

Bound with energy, Sprung is an airy and joyful sculpture, beaming from every angle. Made with one long continuous strip of clay wrapped around a donut, its playfulness is accentuated by its structure and process.

The springs can scale up in size, color and can be combined with mirrored glass for interiors. Multiple colors and finishes available upon request. Inquire about creating a custom piece.


Like many of you, I’ve been dreaming about traveling to faraway places in my mind. I began looking around my house to find treasures of these mythological memories, back when we could go anywhere. They transported me to past trips to Greece (2016) and Egypt (2009).

The work references ancient forms and techniques grounded in age and timelessness. Each one is built slowly, layer by layer with coils, and then hand carved. The palette emphasizes tones rich and appearing sun baked, excavated from another world.


Inspired Harry Potter, I set out to create a collection of bottles for brewing potions and setting magic moods. As I built, I envisioned how air and smoke would flow through and around them freely. The pieces are sculpted for incense, candles, and foraged stems – or look just as well on their own.

I created a focused palette of complex neutrals and alchemic raku. Snape would approve.


Pre-Covid, a generous piece of advice was given by the artist Judy Tuwaletstiwa about my mixed material endeavors. She said, “don’t use glass to make your ceramics better”. Do what the material tells you it wants to do.

Heeding her wisdom, I let the glass flow through the woven forms, mostly sacrificing them all. The end is always the beginning. Build, break, burn…

A woven form made with air, filled back up with glass. Transforming negative space into positive form. Breaking through.

These are one of a kind, collectible pieces. Reach out for price inquiry and commissions. The possibilities are endless.

Made in collaboration with Jason Stropko.

See more Quarantine Diaries here.

View the SKINNY Ceramics profile.

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