The Artisan Series: Beyond the Wheel with Ceramist Dganit Moreno
Author’s note: I’ve long been passionate about connecting with and telling the stories of the creatives who make up St. Louis. As part of an organization dedicated to raising awareness for local artisans, and as someone with a deep interest in the narrative of the handcrafted movement, I’m collaborating with Craft Alliance to explore the scene and share a few interesting stories of local makers along the way. I got the chance to chat with Dganit Moreno, who creates contemporary functional pottery.
Craft Alliance is known for hosting a plethora of talented artists schooled in their various fields, but perhaps one of the greatest testaments to the Craft Alliance program is the story of Dganit Morneno, whose first introduction into working with clay was within the very walls of the organization that she now calls home.
Having just experienced one of Craft Alliance’s wheel throwing classes for myself, I was particularly drawn to Moreno’s story. After all, it was a wheel throwing class at Craft Alliance in 2000 that first piqued Moreno’s interest in the art form.
“In the beginning, that’s what drew me in—the wheel,” Moreno told me when we met at the Craft Alliance studio while she was creating patterns with tape on bisqued pieces in prep for glazing. “I just came in, and I never left.”
While chatting with Moreno at the studio, I got an immediate sense of her passion. Known for functional pottery, which she describes as “ceramic for the dining room,” we began to explore her pieces. “I really like to see my work as a little more dressed-up than casual-everyday,” she told me.
Since that first class at Craft Alliance, Moreno has been continuously honing her craft through classes and workshops. “It was hard at the beginning; I thought if I practice a lot, I will get there,” said Moreno of her learning process. And practice she did. Moreno’s work has been exhibited nationally from Portland, Oregon to East Petersberg, Pennsylvania and has won various awards including “Best Teapot” at the 14th Annual Strictly Functional Pottery National. Moreno’s pieces can be found locally in the Craft Alliance shop and on display at the Delmar location as part of Interpretations: 15th Biennial Teapot Exhibition, with an opening reception on Jan. 15th from 6-8pm.
A few minutes with Moreno’s functional pottery, and it’s clear that it is both intricate and beautiful, but what I was most intrigued by was the intense process behind it. “Most of my time is no longer spent on the wheel,” Moreno explained. “I’ll throw a piece on the wheel, but then I move to the wax, lines, bisquing, glazing and firing.” The result of the artist’s time spent on processes other than the wheel shows in the intricate details of her work. I learned that the fine lines often found on her pieces come from a technique of inlaying an underglaze known as Mishima, a technique that lends itself well to Moreno’s aesthetic ( You can learn this technique at Craft Alliance’s Surface Design workshop with Moreno herself.)
By the end of my time with Moreno, it was clear that one of the things she loves most about her time at Craft Alliance is the community. “It’s easy to experiment here,” she says. “It’s a positive place to be.”
Experience the ease of learning and positivity of Craft Alliance with one of the upcoming classes or workshops beginning in January and running through May.
This post was created in partnership with Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design.
About Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design:
Established in 1964, Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design provides inspiration and education in contemporary craft to a national community of artists, collectors, students and the art-viewing public. Amongst the classes offered at Craft Alliance, you can take a course in the Metals Studio taught by Andersen herself.
About the author
Jessica Leitch is a St. Louis creative with a passion for supporting local and telling the story of how the makers’ movement is manifesting right here in St. Louis. As the Contributing Lifestyle Editor for ALIVE Magazine, Jessica lends her talents as a writer and stylist. She also writes and art directs her own award-winning blog, City in A Jar.
All photos by Hannah Foldy.