A&E: Clay-Filled Connections

Busy wife and mother Gina McKinnis found an outlet for her creativity. Her eye for color, design and texture take shape in paintings, pottery and jewelry every day in her garage studio as she gracefully entwines art
and emotion.

After testing the waters with festivals and art shows, McKinnis took up space at Broadway Antique Mall in Downtown Edmond after her family moved here two years ago. “I started bringing a few things up there and just kept adding to it. I stay busy with it and sometimes I can hardly keep up,” she laughed.

Her work is now being collected all over the world through www.ebay.com and www.etsy.com. Beyond the notoriety, McKinnis loves having a business that she can work around her family.  As a multimedia artist, she works with pottery, glass, textiles, paper collage, and paint. From classic to modern designs, simple or complex color swashes, her pottery is in high demand.

She loves to show her work, but said it’s the special projects for her customers that she loves best, like the dishes she made for a couple’s wedding. “The dishes for the cake were actually a gift to their guests. Each guest took a plate home with them and it was really special because there was nothing like it. It was made according to what they wanted,” said McKinnis.

A large portion of her pottery is devoted to dishes and tiles but one signature creation is especially popular. Prayer hearts and girlfriend hearts are ceramic pieces that contain a special message to a friend or loved one. “People wanted messages like, ‘you’re a great mom,’ or ‘you’re a wonderful daughter’ or ‘you’re fabulous’ and then put them in a bowl so when their friend or loved one sees them, they can read that message and feel the connection,” said McKinnis.

She was inspired to create something that would connect people to their emotions. “The idea comes from the belief that God created us from clay which literally holds human DNA. I read a story about a sculpture artist who believed that the sculpture he was creating had all his feelings and emotions in it. I put my work out there and see people appreciate it but it’s amazing to step into their hearts and give them something that holds their emotion,” she said.

McKinnis tested her idea based on her own feelings. “I was trying to find a gift for the headmaster of our school who was retiring. I had the older kids sign large hearts and made small ones for the little children. They contained a good thought and the children said a prayer for her, so we literally gave her our thoughts and prayers. It ended up being a giant bowl full of hearts. It was so sweet because each child could tell you what they prayed,” said McKinnis.

Her work is a labor of love also because it can be time consuming. Ceramic pottery is not an overnight process. “A plate can take three days including drying time. I use the hand-building method with a slab roller and hand belts; a hump and slump method for dishes. I put it on the mold, let it dry, clean it, fire it to bisque, then glaze it and fire it again.”

Depending on the complexity of desired designs, dishes in particular can take as long as six months to complete, but McKinnis says she’s hooked. “When I worked in graphic design, people would say ‘good job’ but they weren’t really connected to it because it was their business. It wasn’t an emotional connection like with the pottery where people want a design that means something to them. They literally want to hand these things down to their children. It’s amazing to see the possibilities and be a part of that.”

For more information about Gina you can visit www.ginamstudio.com or stop by her booth at the Broadway Antique Mall at 114 S. Broadway.  

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