Half Door Studios and Tinker Wagon
When writing about Cal of Tinker Wagon and Morgan of Half Door Studio, I decided it made the most sense to talk about them together. Though they have their own work, much of it is also beautifully intertwined as this couple works as a team on their whimsical creations. This partnership of creativity and support has produced some wonderful results; from ceramic spirit houses, abstract angels and monsters to flowing watercolor patterns, these artists are truly a unique dynamic duo.
Before they were a team, Cal and Morgan both grew up in Georgia. Cal was raised in Athens where his father, Robert Clements, taught at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at UGA. Cal’s artistic upbringing was complemented by two years of art classes, including ceramics. Morgan grew up in Powder Springs and then made her way to Athens to study. Though she always harbored an interest in art, it would take time before she gained the confidence to pursue it further. All of her time spent doodling and painting patterns and landscapes would eventually lead her to recreate the patterns of her childhood in watercolor.
Cal’s primary medium is clay. His love for this material developed from looking at tiles and mosaics. He has found inspiration from all over, including the Princess mosaics at Disney World. Cal also loves the patterns in the art of Gustave Klimt and is delighted by the colors in the paintings of Paul Klee. Morgan is inspired primarily by the flow and movement of the natural world: watching birds hop or the ocean waves.
“Change is the only constant. I like art that reflects that.” - Morgan
Speaking of change, both of these creatives have undergone transformation in their work over time. Cal was creating ceramics and paintings in the 80s that were “a jubilant mess of accidents, splatters and spills.” A decade later would find his work much more orderly, as though mimicking reptile scales or Native American warrior adornments. Later, he would work with large fabric panels influenced by clowning and theater before creating the ceramic work he makes today.
Though Morgan had spent much of her past doodling, it wasn’t until she was given a watercolor set as a gift from Cal that she found a way to relax and experiment. Cal taught Morgan about art theory and concepts and Morgan made new pieces, each one showing improvement. “Then Cal told me about the concept of “most, less, least” where you use one color the most, one color less, and one the least. I decided to use this concept...and made the first of the Luminescent Series.” - Morgan
Morgan still uses this concept and other simple rules to get started on her pieces. The pandemic brought creative energy for both artists, as Cal built Morgan her own studio space next to his and Cal decided that he “might as well buy some clay and a kiln and get busy.” Inspired by her new space, Morgan started experimenting more with different color combinations and techniques. She began to share her work online and received her first commission.
The pair also work together on clay creations for art sales and shows. Cal creates the initial shapes of the pieces and then he and Morgan glaze them together, utilizing their side-by-side studio spaces. Each piece gets three to five coats of glaze to create unique and beautiful finishes. Morgan says of the process:
"When I’m glazing, I pick out the tile that seems most exciting to glaze. Then I take a moment to sit with it amongst the 30-40 different glazes we have on the table and shelves, and get an idea of this individual piece’s vibe. I mostly work in blues when glazing, because they are so calming and remind me of the ocean. I'll also work in brown and greens if I feel the piece has an earthy vibe to it. And sometimes I'll just get bored of doing the same colors, so I'll turn to the purples, yellows, and reds to entertain myself and experiment with different color combinations. The watercolor process is similar. My default colors are blues and greens, much like the surface of the earth when viewed from space. Since I have a pretty regular pattern, I just start on the first shape somewhere randomly on the page. I do not draw them out in pencil beforehand. I let my hand take the brush wherever it goes. It is very spontaneous and free-form, which is how I like to live my life."
When looking to the future of their art, Morgan is looking forward to what ideas and opportunities may come. She thinks Cal’s tiles should “fill the world” and would love to travel with him to Italy to tile an entire villa. For her own paintings, Morgan is not making them with the intention of selling, but rather for the joy of making them and seeing where they go.
You can fallow Call and Morgan’s separate and collective journey on Instagram:
@half.door.studio and @tinker.wagon