Melissa Wickwire grew up between the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and the Wyoming prairie. Since earning a BFA in ceramics from Alfred University in 2002, she was an arts administrator and an arts educator before moving to northern Minnesota. She has been drawn to the arts since childhood and has maintained her own creative practices with clay for over 20 years. The launching of Wickwire Clay Works in 2013, with a focus on handmade custom tile, allows for balancing the demands of living and a creative lifestyle with making at the fulcrum.
By creating work that celebrates pleasing imperfections, I aim to reflect the human condition of being beautifully flawed. My work provides connection in a world that often feels overwhelming and rigid.
I am grateful for the layers of support, opportunity and intention that have aligned to provide a creative life.
The tiles are made by hand rolling slabs of clay and cutting each shape or by using a press mold to hand press each tile. The surface designs are created with slips and glazes. Some designs feature hand carving. I often use a process called sgraffito in which a layer of colored slip is applied then removed in places to create the design. The tiles are then bisque fired, glazed and finally fired to a stoneware temperature to provide a durable, functional final product suitable for installation.
Current and recent projects include tub / shower surrounds, kitchen back splashes, fireplace tiles, house numbers and wall hangings. Installations can include a mix of handmade and commercial tile (or other materials) or exclusively handmade tile.