Thursday, March 27, 2008


Karen of One Wintry Night makes gorgeous pottery out of her very eco-friendly home in Menasha, WI. I love the colors and designs of her pieces especially the self-watering planters.
1. When did you decide to start making eco-friendly stuff and what triggered your going green?It's not so much that I make eco-friendly stuff, but how I make it. Several years ago our local utility (Menasha Utilities) began offering a wind energy program. Basically, you pay a little extra for your electricity which helps them offset their costs associated with developing and maintaining the program.I make pottery, and fire it in an electric kiln. My 'studio' is actually the basement of our home. We (my husband and I) decided that we liked the idea of supporting green electricity, and innitally opted to have the pottery business purchase enough wind energy to run the kiln. We found that we barely noticed the increased utility cost, and several years ago decided to buy enough wind energy to power the whole house. It's a great feeling! Guess I don't really know what triggered it - it just sort of evolved.

2. What recycled, reused, or eco-concious materials do you typically use? What is your favorite? The two major ingredients in both clay and glaze are alumina and silica. Once fired, they last a very long time . . . but they do eventually break down. I am very proud to be able to offer people alternatives to plastics - cups and bowls that (hopefully) add beauty to their every day lives and that cause no long run harm to the environment.I also recycle all of my unfired clay scraps, and take care to use all of my glazes. In the last few years, I've been thinking a lot about the emissions from my kiln, and have been trying to take steps to improve effeciency and reduce emissions.

3. What non-art or craft related things do you try to do to lead an eco-savvy life?As I think about it, we have gotten more eco-conscious over the years - without really noticing. Menasha also has a recycling program - so our paper, glass, and most plastics get recycled. We also compost and think more about the environment when we make purchases (i.e. compact florescent light bulbs, etc.) The biggest change for me, though, has been that I have gotten into biking over the last few years. We are fortunate to live in a small community, so nothing is a very far ride. I ride my bike to work (I work half time at my 'real job' - !!although my hours will further reduce this spring as my pottery business has grown!) in all but terrible weather, and also do errands on my bike. The biking started as a personal physical challenge - it just happens to be green.

4. What is the one thing you wish people would do more of to contribute to the green cause? Believe that what they do makes a difference.

5. Do you have a green hero? Artist or environmentalist or just uber-eco friend?Wisconsin Public Radio in general, and also Al Gore. I listen to Public Radio in the studio, and they are constantly showcasing green ideas and programs. It makes me feel hopeful and proud of the many people who are committed to this issue. And, I love Al Gore - his book was an eye-opener.

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