Many remember the brain-exhausting puzzles of childhood, where two-dimensional plastic puzzle pieces interlock into a three-dimensional skyscraper. It took mental dexterity to transform a flat object into something obviously more useful. The ability is applicable to other undertakings, like architecture with prefab housing or folding origami.

Jill Zeidler, a Big Sky ceramist, uses similar perceptive skills to assemble functional pieces of art. Zeidler’s ceramics are on display at Altitude Gallery, 134 E. Main St., Gallatin River Gallery, 114 Ousel Falls Rd., Big Sky and on her website at

“I used the wheel for pottery off and on but it just didn’t excite me like the way I felt when I hand built a pot or a mug,” Zeidler said. “When I use just my hands and slump each piece to the puzzle together building it skyward, there is a clear sculptural integrity behind it.”

Much like a sewing pattern, Zeidler uses an exact form to size and cut the hand-stretched clay in here minimalistic pottery. With a mug, there are three pieces, the bottom circle, the stretched side and the handle. She then flips the pieces and scores or scratches them to attach them.

“My bowls, platters, vessels and vases, are all fulfilling to me when I accomplish the right shape,” Zeidler said. “I am always going for the simple, subtle and bold shape for each piece so that it is exactly enough volume for the buyer to have a good cup of coffee, but not a boring enough shape that they wouldn’t notice the unique calm of the design.”

Among the many adjectives Zeidler used to describe her art, “Zen” and “loose” were her favorites, reflecting her use of a white mixed with earthy bright color palate and clean lines, which would put a sense of ease to the beholder. It is something Zeidler herself wants to feel when she finishes producing and pumping out her new dinnerware line.

“I am getting to the point in my career where I just need to step back, look back and find my own quiet again,” Zeidler said. “My work is turning another corner again and I am beginning to realize and appreciate the chapter I had before.”

Zeidler’s work has de-cluttered her own life. It mirrors her value of not overdoing, not overworking and not over-manipulating, but clearly and precisely making contemporary design.

“I know I like the clean house, versus the grandmother clutter,” Zeidler said. “I don’t over adorn myself nor am I a big collector. I enjoy looking at a clutter-free, fresh and bright look. And that is what my pieces are: designs that will speak for themselves.”

Ali Everts is an avid art consumer who would love to hear your comments or suggestions. She may be reached at or 582-2632.