Judy Thomas is a Seattle native who grew up loving art and gardening with her mother. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design she worked with textiles and lived on a farm in Woodinville where she and her husband Paul raised two children and lots of animals.
Also an avid gardener, Judy began to weave gardening into her art, and eventually started a floral design business. Her novel and creative approach to floral design was recognized by a local catering company, where she set a new standard of food presentation. Her designs included flowers, vegetables, fruit, trees and once a centerpiece of fish swimming in a 5’ tower for the display of assorted smoked salmon, oysters and shrimp hors d’oeuvres.
Seven years ago Judy began taking ceramic classes and since then has focused primarily on ceramic garden art.
How long have you been gardening and what sparked your interest in it?
My Mother loved her garden, so I was aware of gardening as long as I can remember. We have lived in our current home for 40 years and for roughly half of that time I mainly concentrated on the vegetable garden. The Perennial gardens began in earnest when I started my floral design business about 20 years ago.
What do you get out of gardening?
I love being outside! Working in the dirt is wonderful therapy. I can weed for hours. But ask me to dust??? Oh my, no.
What influences you in your art and in the creation of your garden?
The natural world is a huge influence. Also, the years working in textiles taught me to appreciate texture. I think perhaps working in the garden has taught me about the use of scale.
Has humor always played such a strong part in your art?
Yes. I have always loved puns although a writer friend of mine thinks that they are the low-life of the literary stuff. I like words and letters and the fun of all of that.
What do you hope people will get out of your art?
I do not want people to be intimidated. I hope I can help them be comfortable with art they like, and maybe add some humor to their lives. It does not always have to be so serious. On the other hand, though my work is often whimsical I am dead serious about what I am doing.
When did you start with ceramics?
I took my first Ceramic classes while attending Rhode Island School of Design. I worked for some years in the late ’60’s with Connie Jarvis. About 7 years ago, I found Carol Gouthro and Kirkland Art Center. I am hooked and have studied there since.
What other types of art did you do before ceramics and when did you start?
My degree was in Textile Design. I was a weaver for years. I did a lot with the wool from our own sheep. In the end, I did mostly Wearable Art. Then I tried to use floral design as my creative outlet. I worked for quite a few years doing cement pieces for the garden (hence, the concrete pears)…the search for a place to work in clay began when I found the concrete unwilling to do what I wanted it to do!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn to make ceramics?
Joining a class is wonderful. There are so many aspects to Ceramics that it will help you focus on what you want to do, plus let you decide how interested you really are prior to investing in the equipment.