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The Magical World of Artist Sheila Ross

The Magical World of Artist Sheila Ross

From colorful paintings and sculptures to cat and cloud-adorned teapots and pottery.

When you're wondering what to get that close friend or family member who is more than a little fussy and hard to please, look no further than ceramic artist extraordinaire SHEILA ROSS and her brand SASHA's TEA PARTY, on both Sheila's Etsy website as well as on www.sashasteaparty.com you'll find an absolute treasure trove of small-batch products that are not only useful but have that definite WOW factor. Your guests will certainly be asking just where you found such beautiful, carefully crafted house and table wares. Sheila has been creating her ceramic magic professionally for over twelve years with the Sasha's Tea Party brand launching in the early days of 2020, just as the pandemic hit us hard. It was not ideal timing, but Sheila discovered that the longer people were confined to their apartment, the more they searched websites for items they could use at home; stuff that also had visual pop and would enhance the ambiance of their abode. Hey, why not make the best out of a bad situation, as long as you're stuck at home, right?

Sasha's Tea Party was launched as a kind of homage to Sheila's late, beloved cute as a button black cat. Sasha was always by Sheila's side in her studio, while she worked on paintings, multi-media art and, of course, ceramics. So, it's only fitting that the inspirational Sasha lives on in her Mom's art to this day. The Sasha Collection consists of a variety of teapots, mugs, cups and plates that bear the imprint of Sheila's dear fur baby. You'll fall in love with this handsome guy too, long whiskers and all!

Another set of products that you'll want to look into is the Clouds Collections. Striking blue skies and snow-white clouds adorn the various teapots and accouterments that are available for purchase. And, let's not forget the Leafy Collection. These breath-taking cups, vases, jam and honey pots, all have a bright, colorful botanical motif complete with vines, leaves, birds and other scenes of nature. Looking for something a wee bit artsy and offbeat? Well, then, you will simply adore Sheila's Graffiti Collection which is inspired by the iconic and eccentric but never, ever boring street art that can be found all over the New York City urban scape. The mugs and teapots that can be found in Sheila's incredible Broken Triangle Collection consist of white stoneware in a blue slip broken triangle Sgraffito pattern. And, get this, they are all dishwasher and microwave-safe as are a majority of Sheila's ceramic products.

Sheila has had a life-long love of tea and everything that's connected to hospitality and tea drinking. Aplez.com wanted to know how this fascination with tea eventually became a business. Sheila was only too happy to explain.

SashaCollection1

" As a very young kid, I was introduced to tea in my native Canada. Of course, it was what we kids used to call fairy tea. It was VERY sugary and milky. But I loved drinking it as well as the connection that sipping this hot beverage gave me with friends and family members. Around this time, I also began to collect teapots and tea sets. Later on, as an adult, one of my first real jobs was working for a clay and glass manufacturing organization. I still have and use a very large teapot made by one of its members who gave it to me as a 21st birthday gift. I probably have ten teapots in my small Queens apartment. I also love making them. Teapots are one of the more complex, functional forms that you can make on the wheel. I specialize in creating a vast array of teapots in different shapes and sizes. When I decided that the time was right to start a business, I knew that I wanted to share my love of tea with everyone. "

By the way, Sheila's husband is originally from Turkey. Sheila was surprised to learn that the Turks have a long-standing tradition of drinking tea. Her hubby introduced Sheila to different flavors of tea as well as ceremonial aspects of communal tea drinking in his native land.

Interested readers who desire to shop with Sheila can go straight to Sasha's Tea Party website and start browsing through her rather extensive catalog. Do you have something special in mind that you'd like to have Sheila create for you? Well, the sky's the limit as far as this artist is concerned.

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"I am open to doing custom orders. Customers can approach me via email to ask if I can make something very specific for them. Some artists do not like custom orders but I do! I love the creative challenge ." This is great news for those who are looking for that elusive unique birthday or anniversary gift. If you are a business owner, why not look into working with Sheila on pottery and table wares that would add something very artistic to your endeavors? Right now, Sheila is in the process of working with a gelato maker in Florida, creating a special limited-edition bowl that will accompany a new gelato flavor that the company is introducing. Recently, Sheila has also collaborated with a candle maker, making small containers to hold the candles.

In addition to shopping online with Sheila, you may catch her live and in person at a myriad of craft markets and pop-ups around the city. An interesting conversationalist, don't miss the chance to interact with Sheila. She is always more than happy to chat about her craft and will answer any questions that you have regarding the pottery and ceramic tea products that are for sale. On March 17th and April 7th and April 14th, Sheila will be returning to the fabulous Grand Bazaar, located at 100 West 77th Street on the Upper West Side. In addition, our artist in the spotlight will be appearing at NADA FLEA, on March 23rd and 24th, at their gallery which is located on the Lower East Side at 311 East Broadway, second floor. The event is open to the public from noon until six pm, on Saturday and Sunday. Sheila also sells her ceramics and art at In Casa in Astoria and the Brooklyn Collective in Carroll Gardens.

Cloudtumblers

Towards the end of 2023, Sheila made a long-anticipated move into a brand new studio space, which, according to Sheila, has been a breath of fresh air, artistically speaking.

" I adore my new space ! " exclaimed the artist. " It is larger than my former studio. This is a space where I can store and showcase my ceramics and also work on my paintings. I am still digging out from the move, but things are finally coming together. I badly needed additional shelving so I ended up creating a loft storage situation, which helped a lot." The new ambiance and elbow room will enable Sheila to come up with even more goodies for you. It's a win-win for everyone!

Being a small business owner is, at once challenging and highly gratifying, one would almost say, liberating, particularly for a creative person. We here at Aplez.com wondered; what exactly does Sheila like best about having her own brand and what are the biggest drawbacks, if any?

" Being an artist with a keen entrepreneurial bent is interesting, to say the least," replied Sheila. Certainly, the creative freedom I have comes to mind. That is the best privilege that comes from taking risks and running your own business. I am always thinking about how to develop and expand my product line so that people find something new that piques their interest. The biggest challenge, I would have to say, is growing one's business; finding ways to market oneself and connecting with new venues where I can sell my work in person."

Sheila considers herself to be extremely fortunate to have a loyal repeat customer base. They tend to purchase things for their home and then buy items for wedding gifts. The ceramics that Sheila creates, (a vase, a set of mugs, even a large salad or serving bowl),
are picture-perfect for showers, weddings etc. Sheila's kindness, flair for creativity, professional standards and reliability are her calling cards.

Considering the fact that Sheila works in a variety of mediums from acrylic painting to pottery, we were curious as to whether or not she had a favorite means of artistic expression. The answer was not long in coming. " I really don't have a favourite, if you will. Working with various mediums keeps me fresh and the artistic juices flowing. I realize that curators, gallerists and collectors tend to expect an artist to stick to just one thing. But, I would get super bored if I had to be pigeonholed. I DO love my pottery, though. Over time, I have probably made around a thousand pots and other things including paintings with clouds on them. Cloud imagery in art has a rich history. For example, I cannot get enough of the cloud studies by the English Romantic painter William Turner . There is just so much to be inspired by. I hope this year to expand on cloud imagery in both my teapots and other genres. "

Skull mugs

Sheila holds not one, but two degrees in art; a BFA from the University of Western Ontario and an MFA from New York University. Ever since she can remember , Sheila has had an interest and an aptitude for making things.

" I was the young kid who was always trying to create something out of nothing. I was always a mess covered in paint. My father told me "You are going to be an artist." I rebelled a bit in my teens and actually wanted to be a scientist, of all things! The problem was that in school I excelled in art and languages. Chemistry and math, not so much. It was much harder to get good grades or marks as we call them in Canada in those subjects."

Over the years, Sheila has enjoyed great success as an artist in terms of both solo exhibitions and group shows, from NYC, Memphis TN. and Fresno CA. to Istanbul, Toronto,Brighton, England and Rotterdam in the Netherlands. In addition to her fine art
paintings, sculptures and ceramics, Sheila has also participated in a collaborative artistic endeavor called Yurt City, which was exhibited at a gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and at Socrates Sculpture Park in LIC , not too long ago.

Sheila's surroundings definitely play a major role in her art. Growing up in Montreal and Toronto, Canada, Sheila was into outdoor activities, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall including Hockey ( which she played with her two brothers ) figure skating, skiing, camping, sailing and canoeing. " Elements of the landscape have always been a reference in my works. That, of course, shifts with location. After I moved to NYC in 1995, the cityscape and some natural elements like clouds, and the water surrounding Manhattan became the landscape reference. I don't think that my work is particularly Canadian, but we are all shaped by our experiences. I am a dual citizen now, so am quite proud to be both Canadian and American ! "

Having grown up in diverse, multicultural cities like Montreal and Toronto, Sheila was more than delighted to find herself in Sunnyside, Queens. She immediately fell in love with the energy, diversity and dynamic nature of her adopted neighbourhood. Not to mention the delicious restaurant scene in both Sunnyside and Astoria. " I recently said to a friend that, if after walking around my neighbourhood for five minutes and I only hear English spoken, then I'll know that it's time to move. It makes me happy when I am out and about, shopping or just taking a stroll to hear Romanian, Spanish, Korean, Urdu, or Turkish being spoken. Sunnyside has always been a community of immigrants, with the Irish and Germans spearheading the immigrant wave decades ago. The tradition continues. "

Some of Sheila's favorite dining spots include Belo, which offers fine Brazilian dining, DeMole, a superb Mexican spot and Sanger Hall, a traditional pub-style watering hole and one of the most welcoming spots in the area.

In concluding the interview we asked Sheila what her goals were, personally and professionally, for 2024 and beyond. " Well, while I love being a ceramicist, I must confess that I've missed making paintings. I look forward to creating a new body of paintings and finding exhibition spaces for that work. Also, as an artist and small business owner it is easy to lose track of time and work 24/7. Ten or eleven days can go by like that and then I'll look back and realize that I haven't taken a single day off during that time. I have a mantra for this New Year : work smarter,not harder. I am trying my best to find a way to have a better work/life balance. It's just smart to step away from your work and recharge those batteries. "

CONTACT INFO :
website : www.sheilaross.com
www.sashasteaparty.com
Etsy site : www.etsy.com/shop/sheilarossart
Instagram : @sheilarossart

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2016 Platinum Hermes Creative Award
 

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Tuesday, 16 July 2024