About the Artist, M. L. Yonika
I have always been happiest when making things. From large to small; hand building a 16 foot wooden canoe with my son, to tying my own fishing flies, I love working with my hands.
As a child growing up, my family summered in a small cabin on a beautiful lake, providing a never forgotten experience of the natural elements, and giving me an appreciation of nature that influences everything that I do.
After receiving degrees at Rochester Institute of Technology and Massachusetts College of Art, my first job was with an environmental consulting firm doing report graphics and map preparation. I moved from there into the field of multi-image as an art director, illustrator/designer, doing multi-projector slide shows for a wide variety of corporations. At that time, the work was still done using drawing boards and copy stand cameras. Just as the field was moving into computers, I was moving into motherhood. Although this may seem centuries ago, in fact it was only a little more than two decades and those decades brought, in addition to three children, several part-time jobs and studies, including batik, the art of bonsai, paper making, quilting, an extended period of time as a weaver and, of course, working with clay.
It is fascinating to look back and see how many of these creative endeavors have found their way into my business of making New England Stoneware Candle Houses. And how did the candle houses actually come about?
At one point, I was challenged to come up with a raffle item for the school holiday fair. The idea was to create a candle village. Why not? Little lit up villages had always fascinated me and children find them irresistible. But I wanted to make something simpler, less fussy in detail, than those versions found in the mass marketplace, so, using a friend's studio, clay, and kiln, the first of many candle villages was created. This first village was patterned after a Bavarian village. But having been a life-long resident and lover of New England and the simple dignity and integrity of its old houses and farm buildings, it made more sense to create a New England village. In 1994 the first New England houses were produced.
Now there are over two dozen different designs in the line with new ones being added from time to time. All of them are classic New England structures. Some of them are accomplished by studying existing buildings, others researched in books and some are composites of buildings that can be found throughout New England. All of my early learned skills of drafting come into play when drawing plans and creating hand-cut templates for each plane of a new house. No two houses are exactly alike and each style will be produced for a limited period of time. Current production only sees one or two new styles each year, but the possibilities are endless…
Each house is imbued with my love of home, family, natural things, New England landscapes of hills, water, and dancing white pine trees, and my love of creating things with simple materials using my hands.
~ M. L. Yonika, Stoneware Houses Artist
You can meet me at our studio (by appointment! 603-801-0950) or each August at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair at Sunapee.