Create With: Christi Ahee

How did you start doing ceramics?
I did a little bit of ceramics in high school and college, but not with any consistency or seriousness. I only really got into after college when my boyfriend got me wheel throwing classes at Lillstreet Art Center.

What inspires your work?
I try to focus into the natural qualities of the clay. So for my porcelain pieces, I lean into it kind of being a luxe material and add a lot of gold luster glaze detailing. For the stoneware, I try to leave a lot of the clay exposed so you see exactly what the materials are.

How did you find your style/aesthetic?
I try not to over think what I make, and I think my aesthetic is a little bit all over the place. I try to make simple pieces that are still playful and whimsical. They're functional objects so I don't want them to be too precious to use.

What brought you to Chicago?
I moved here for school and just sort of stuck around after.

If you weren’t here, where would you be?
I really can't see myself living anywhere else. I always think about moving, but everywhere just pales in comparison to the resources and connections I have here in Chicago

If you weren’t doing ceramics, what would you be doing?
I really don't know. After doing this, I don't think I can do anything else.

What are you trying to learn right now?
Probably handling the business aspect of the job. I'm not particularly organized and keeping track of the business side of running a ceramics studio isn't exactly in my wheelhouse. It's definitely an ongoing learning experience.

What are you most proud of?
Being able to turn this into a full time gig. I did this part time for a while, and being able to transition into my main job is a pretty great feeling.

How do you take time for yourself?
I'm going to really out myself here, but I play Dungeons and Dragons one to two nights a week. It's something that's scheduled with other people where I'm not being distracted by anything else, so it forces me to put a hard stop to working for the day.

Why do you think it’s important for creative women to come together and collaborate?
Often women have to account for men's perception of women in our interactions. We have to be very diplomatic when it comes to work. If you come off too strong, you're a bitch. If you come off too soft, you're weak. When working with other women, that sort of isn't on the table anymore. When you're not defending your gender, I think it opens up a wider avenue for a little more honesty and creativity.

What is your advice for someone who wants a job like yours?
Set yourself up in a sustainable way. It's important to think about all the steps of getting your pieces into homes, and setting up systems to make that streamlined instead of crossing the bridges as you get there. That opens up more time to focus on the fun parts of the job.

What is one thing that surprised you in your path?
The artist community and how inclusive it is! Everyone I've met has been crazy supportive regardless of what medium they work in. I've gotten to know printmakers, woodworkers, jewelers, etc., and everyone has such a different work process but the same sense of appreciation for the hustle.

Favorite female creatives?
This is so hard! Angela and Kristen from Bash Party Goods and Gather Home + Lifestyle are a couple. Many many years ago, we worked together at Urban Outfitters, and it has been really cool and inspiring to see how we've all drastically changed trajectories. Also Nadine Nakanishi of Sonnenzimmer. I met her several years ago, and she is been someone I definitely look up to. Talk about hustle! 

Favorite Chicago places?
I don't go out very often, so it's a very short list. There's a brunch spot by my apartment Over Easy that my boyfriend and I go to every month. I always love going Logan Arcade, too. They have great pinball machines and it's never too crowded. Otherwise I usually go to my friends' apartments. We have a Friday supper club where we all make something and bring plenty of wine and beer to make sure we have great conversations and a good time.

Top three items of clothing/accessories?
I've got this Hudson Bay sweater that I got at a thrift store some years back that I absolutely adore. Then, I'd have to say a good pair of jeans and leather lace up boots. I have about 15 pairs of leather lace up boots that all look very similar, but I don't think I could part with a single pair of them.

Morning routine?
I'm not a morning person, so I start my days slow. I'll watch some TV or play a video game while I have coffee at home before I go to the studio. I take my time with this so I don't usually get to work until about 11 or 12.

Favorite travel destination?
I don't travel as much as I'd like to, but I do go camping pretty often. There are some beautiful camping spots in the Midwest, so it's my favorite way to go on a last minute trip.

Favorite extravagance/indulgence?
Making time to cook. I often get take out for dinner because I don't get home from the studio until 8 or 9 at night, but on the days when I do get home early enough to cook, I get into full on Julia Child mode.