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Meet Karen Fiorino

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Fiorino.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
My story starts almost 20 years ago, when I had the opportunity to take various ceramics classes at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale at the urging of a friend. After 2 years of class taking while working at the university, I decided to pay off the truck, buy a wheel, quit my job and start a business making my pottery. Slowly, but surely over the years, I created my own style and following of folks who loved my designs and using my majolica pottery in their homes. Recently, my work has now touched a second generation of people – ones who have grown up with my work and now as adults, still enjoy using it.

Over the past 20 years, the designs have changed and matured, all depending on what is going on in my life…but underlying it all is a quirky sense of humor and a joyfulness that makes my work alive and makes people smile. I hope to bring a bit of happiness to people’s lives through my art.

Please tell us about your art.
I make fun and functional majolica glazed pottery. Each piece is wheel thrown or slab created from a red earthenware clay. After creating a body of work over a 3-week period, I fire in my kiln to the bisque stage. Then comes the fun part. I look at each piece and start painting my designs using the bright colored stains/ frit combo. Some days I focus on the various floral designs I have, other days, I devote a whole day on one or two ornately designed mandala patterns. I tend to create my designs from the creatures and plant life I see on the land where my studio is. Oh, my studio is in Makanda, about 6 miles to the south of Carbondale, in the Shawnee Forest of Southern Illinois. I am now working on a series of butterfly/pollinator designs hoping to raise some awareness of these insects and how they are important. Of course, the Monarch is the most recognizable, but I have started to create designs with other Illinois species of butterflies to try to educate the various butterflies found here. I hope people will recognize the insects from my pottery.

The decorating cycle lasts about 3 weeks as well, and I tell people when they ask, that it takes approximately a month and a half from start to finish to make my work.

I want to bring a bit of joy into people’s lives. The imagery of my pottery is really not sugary sweet, but fun with a unique style that people recognize as mine. My work is functional and meant to be used. I feel people should have beautiful objects to use in their lives, especially ones that make them happy.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
Is educating people to support your local artists. It means so much more to have a handmade piece of work no matter the medium.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
People can see my work at various art fairs: Coming up Springfield, IL Art Spectacular at the Carillon, September 8 -9 – Please check my website to see the schedule as it comes up

Also, you can see examples of my work online at and can purchase work in my Etsy Shop

Follow my studio page on Facebook: or on Instagram: Doing that in keep you in the loop of new work, where I’ll be and people can contact me directly if they have ideas for custom pieces. I have virtually kiln openings where if you see something you like, I can ship it directly to you. Having an online presence has helped my business, by allowing my pottery to be seen world-wide.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Karen Fiorino

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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