The Minis: Ursula Basinger - Tucson
Hi Ursula! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I make pottery in Tucson, Arizona. My day job managing an ecology lab at the University of Arizona allows me to indulge my desert rat tendencies. Nothing makes me feel more at peace than some time in nature. With my pottery line Basin and Range, named for the rugged topography here, I make simple and functional wheel-thrown and hand-built clay objects.
When did you start working with ceramics? What drew you to creating in this medium?
I started working with ceramics two years ago with classes at the Tucson Clay Co-op. It was meant to be a casual hobby but quickly grew into a full-blown obsession. Now I’m a member and spend almost of my free time there. I love the slow process, the tactility and messiness, and the problem solving involved. The opportunity to create useful objects that enhance others’ daily lives is truly gratifying.
Your forms and shapes are so beautiful! Where do you look for inspiration for your designs?
Thanks for saying so! I find inspiration in many places. The sun-drenched Sonoran Desert definitely makes its way into my work. Lately I’ve been into ancient Nazca pottery, Mexican Amate village depictions and Navajo pictorial rugs. Anni and Josef Albers are among my most consistent inspirations. Anni could really elevate the everyday object, and Josef found ways to make the simplest image transcendent.
Much of my inspiration just comes while refining work in the studio. For instance, I made the first candlesticks after adding large coil handles to mugs. The handles of those mugs were the best part and I wanted to use coils in a more sculptural way, which led to making tree of life candlesticks in both traditional and unique forms.
As you are now taking more time to pursue your pottery, what are you looking forward to as an artist in the coming months?
Now that I have cut back on hours at my day job I am just happy to have the time to complete a few wholesale orders that have been accumulating. I’m also excited to experiment with new forms as I prepare for holiday markets. This fall I will be playing more with texture and scale as well as working on making the perfect mug that is as pleasing to hold as it is to look at.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
I wouldn’t be selling ceramics if it weren’t for the supportive women in my life. My friends believed in me before I did and have been so encouraging. My friend Claire Seizovic urged me to sell at her pop-up Cultivate Tucson last fall and gave me the motivation to push myself. Early collaborations with kind and generous women like Emily Benziger of Fine Life Co. and Brittany Pena of Best Buds Botanicals have helped me feel valid as a maker. There’s a wonderful community of women getting things done here and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.
What are some of your favorite places in Tucson?
There’s so much to love about Tucson and for a small city there are a lot of great restaurants. A few of my favorites are Exo, Tumerico, 5 Points and TallBoys, all of which are owned by wonderful hardworking folks.
In my opinion, the very best part of life here is the accessibility of nature. Four mountain ranges surround the Tucson basin, and each contains its own magic. In the spring and during monsoon season there are many beautiful swimming spots, such as Sabino Canyon and Tanque Verde Falls, which can be surprisingly quiet if you go a little off the beaten path. Tucson arguably has the world’s best sunsets, and after work my boyfriend and I often make the quick drive to the Tucson Mountains to soak in the glow.