Her pottery is based on a love of folk art and her pieces are totally functional: You can bake with the casserole dish, the pitchers are used for drinking water and butter can be secured under the lid of a butter dish.
Steele will be among the 450 artists at the Edmonds Arts Festival, an annual free art event held every Father's Day weekend where visitors can take in high-quality art.
The art festival offers creations that are purely art but visitors can also check out pieces that are art mixed with function.
Though practical, Steele's ceramics are also works of art where Steele has used a special tool to draw on floral prints and geometric designs.
All Steele's pots beckon with subtle colors. Those colors are indeed inspired by the natural surroundings of the Pacific Northwest, but there's something more to Steele's pottery.
It is salt-fired.
This special process dates back to medieval Germany and the traditions and methods were brought to the United States by German immigrant potters, among them the Pennsylvania Dutch, Steele said.
Steele first started as a potter making red earthenware ceramics but built her own salt kiln in 2004.
She owns Insomnia Pottery in Cornelius, Ore.
Steele said her pottery is more unusual than other salt-fired pottery because hers is decorated.
"I love the fact that salt-firing reveals every line you put on a pot," Steele said. "It's like drawing on your pots."
Steele, 64, is educated as a botanist and horticulturist and also owns and operates New Leaf Greenhouse Inc. She said in her nursery, she deals with rows and rows of flowers and plants that are all alike.
When she makes pots, she likes to "make things that are one of a kind."
She said the unpredictable process of salt vapor mixed with the kiln position ensures that each pot is unique with a palette blooming in lustrous colors that mimic the shades found in granite, bamboo and other natural materials.
She said she will be bringing a variety of her pots to the Edmonds Arts Festival, including cups, casserole dishes, bowls and vases. Her works are also very buyable and range in price from $55 to $250.
And when you visit her booth at the Edmonds Arts Festival, you won't have to ask Steele why she named her business Insomnia Pottery.
She said she never did get up in the middle of the night to make pots, though she did think about them.
"I really didn't sleep well for a long time," Steele said. "So when I'd get up in the middle of the night at least I had something nice and pleasant to think about."
For more information about Insomnia Pottery go to www.insomniapottery.com.
If you go ...
The Edmonds Arts Festival is a three-day event filled with original art, performing art and art events. Visitors stroll through the festival's "streets" named after famous painters and view nearly 240 exhibitors, offering oils, watercolors, pastels, drawings, mixed media, photography, sculpture, fiber arts, jewelry, glass, metal, pottery/ceramics, toys, collectibles, and furniture.
The festival also has children's activities, musicians, and storytellers.
The Juried Gallery offers art by more than 450 top local and national artists. There's also a juried Student Art Exhibit with entries from kindergarten through 12th grades.
The 2012 Edmonds Arts Festival is 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Frances Anderson Cultural Center, 700 Main St., Edmonds. For more information go to www.edmondsartsfestival.com.
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