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Objects of Desire: Michele Quan’s Painted Planters and Other Haute-Hippie Garden Designs

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Objects of Desire: Michele Quan’s Painted Planters and Other Haute-Hippie Garden Designs

July 20, 2023

Michele Quan adorns her ceramics with images relating to the wonder and mysteries of the universe. “Reading books on Eastern thought and practices is the root inspiration of my work,” she tells us. “Clay can transform a moment or idea into stone.

Michele talks about the symbolic meaning of shapes, the energy of colors, and wanting her practice to be about “honoring the things we love”—but quickly adds “I hope I don’t sound like a woo woo; I’m pretty much an irreverent realist.”

Long known for her stoneware temple bells and disc curtains—leading her work to be dubbed “haute hippie”— Michele has turned to making practical objects of late. Since relocating her studio from Brooklyn to upstate NY, in 2020, she’s created a collection of garden-related pieces: planters, hanging pots, vases, and bird feeders. There are curious and beautiful new indoor-outdoor sculptures, too.

Photography by Bobby Fisher, courtesy of Michele Quan (@michelequanstudio).

All of Michele&#8\2\17;s stoneware planters are wheel-thrown and hand-painted with extraordinary care in her Saugerties, NY, workshop. Each has a drainage hole and comes with a catch plate. This is the Prism/Crescent Yellow Planter: It has a rainbow prism and star on one side (as shown in Michele&#8\2\17;s backyard) and white crescent moon and yellow circle on the other; available in three sizes starting at \$465.
Above: All of Michele’s stoneware planters are wheel-thrown and hand-painted with extraordinary care in her Saugerties, NY, workshop. Each has a drainage hole and comes with a catch plate. This is the Prism/Crescent Yellow Planter: It has a rainbow prism and star on one side (as shown in Michele’s backyard) and white crescent moon and yellow circle on the other; available in three sizes starting at $465.

N.B.: Much of Michele’s work is ready to ship, but some of it, such as this piece labeled pre-order on her site, is custom made and can take up to 16 weeks.

&#8\2\20;For this planter collection I focused the images on: The Sky (wonder, awe, and expansiveness), Energy (vibration, movement both opposing and in relationship), The Mountain (ground, stability, and reaching),&#8\2\2\1; writes Michele. Domino Indigo—&#8\2\2\1;symbolizing the moon cycle from dark new moon to bright full moon&#8\2\2\1;—comes in four sizes starting at \$\245.
Above: “For this planter collection I focused the images on: The Sky (wonder, awe, and expansiveness), Energy (vibration, movement both opposing and in relationship), The Mountain (ground, stability, and reaching),” writes Michele. Domino Indigo—”symbolizing the moon cycle from dark new moon to bright full moon”—comes in four sizes starting at $245.
The Marigold &. Sun Planter comes in four sizes starting at \$\245.
Above: The Marigold &. Sun Planter comes in four sizes starting at $245.

“The planters are all thrown on the wheel in a custom groggy clay body that actually fires to a toasty brown,” explains Michele. “All of my work is covered multiple times with a white clay based material that fires to a matte, slightly crackly surface. And in the gas reduction firing, the iron in the clay deepens creating a lot of variation and depth to the white.”

The Oroboro Planter comes in four sizes starting at \$\2\25. &#8\2\20;All of the planters are \100 percent vitrified in the kiln firing, so they won&#8\2\17;t sweat or leak water.&#8\2\2\1;
Above: The Oroboro Planter comes in four sizes starting at $225. “All of the planters are 100 percent vitrified in the kiln firing, so they won’t sweat or leak water.”
The Full Moon Marigold Hanging Planter, \$380, hangs from a hemp rope. It&#8\2\17;s recommended for indoor use only—or in a covered outdoor area.
Above: The Full Moon Marigold Hanging Planter, $380, hangs from a hemp rope. It’s recommended for indoor use only—or in a covered outdoor area.
Michele&#8\2\17;s series of vessels, such as this Tall Black Rings design—\$380 for small, \$760 for large—have glazed interiors.
Above: Michele’s series of vessels, such as this Tall Black Rings design—$380 for small, $760 for large—have glazed interiors.
Michele&#8\2\17;s recent four new bird feeders include The Marigold & Sun Bird Feeder, \$4\25.
Above: Michele’s recent four new bird feeders include The Marigold & Sun Bird Feeder, $425.
The Shiva Rock: Firefly Marigold comes in two sizes starting at \$545, and can be displayed indoors or out. Michele describes it as &#8\2\20;an ode to Indian river rocks—for me they represent the Cosmic Egg housing our potential and life force.&#8\2\2\1;
Above: The Shiva Rock: Firefly Marigold comes in two sizes starting at $545, and can be displayed indoors or out. Michele describes it as “an ode to Indian river rocks—for me they represent the Cosmic Egg housing our potential and life force.”
The Rock Domed New Eye in indigo, \$600, is a sculpture for indoors or out. A signature motif of Michele&#8\2\17;s, the New Eye appears on a range of her work, from bells to ornaments.
Above: The Rock Domed New Eye in indigo, $600, is a sculpture for indoors or out. A signature motif of Michele’s, the New Eye appears on a range of her work, from bells to ornaments.
Round Rock Constellations comes in three sizes starting at \$645, and is a &#8\2\20;hand-built stoneware rock painted with stars; it&#8\2\17;s safe to live outdoors.&#8\2\2\1;
Above: Round Rock Constellations comes in three sizes starting at $645, and is a “hand-built stoneware rock painted with stars; it’s safe to live outdoors.”
Michele at home in Saugerties, NY, captured by her partner, photographer Bobby Fisher. She has a shop in her studio at \1536 Route \2\1\2 in Saugerties that&#8\2\17;s open Fridays and Saturdays from \1\1 to 5.
Above: Michele at home in Saugerties, NY, captured by her partner, photographer Bobby Fisher. She has a shop in her studio at 1536 Route 212 in Saugerties that’s open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 to 5.

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Frequently asked questions

What kind of products does Michele Quan sell?

Michele Quan sells painted pots, bird feeders, and other garden decor.

Where can I find Michele Quan's products?

You can find Michele Quan's products on the Gardenista website.

Are Michele Quan's products handmade?

Yes, Michele Quan's products are handmade.

What materials are Michele Quan's products made of?

Michele Quan's products are made of clay and other durable materials.

Are Michele Quan's products suitable for outdoor use?

Yes, Michele Quan's products are designed for outdoor use and can withstand the elements.

Can Michele Quan's products be used as bird feeders?

Yes, some of Michele Quan's products are bird feeders.

Do Michele Quan's products come in different sizes?

Yes, Michele Quan's products are available in various sizes to suit different preferences.

Are Michele Quan's products customizable?

Some of Michele Quan's products may be customizable upon request.

Do Michele Quan's products come with any care instructions?

Yes, each product comes with care instructions to ensure their longevity.

Does Michele Quan offer international shipping?

Yes, Michele Quan offers international shipping for their products.

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