Nouveau Riches

By staff November 1, 2007

In her richly diverse creative career, Hally Abbott has been a painter, weaver, creator of soft sculptures, composer, desktop publisher and editor of a women’s humor magazine. Ceramics have been her focus since moving to Sarasota in 2001, and now her one-of-a-kind vases, boxes, tiles, dinnerware and children’s tea sets are on display in her new studio, Abbott Design Studio Gallery, on Siesta Drive opposite Westfield Southgate.

“I love the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany and the Art Nouveau style,” she says, “and I love doing these kinds of designs on bisque ware because the colors pop—everything is beautiful and fun.”

Abbott purchases the bisque ware (she calls it her “blank canvas”) and sets to work drawing her designs, then applying glazes—trickier than it seems, because “when you’re painting with glaze you don’t see the colors until the piece is fired,” she explains. Depending on the complexity of the design, the painting process alone can take a couple of weeks; each glaze gets three coats and the piece is then low-fired up to four times.

In the spirit of Tiffany, nature influences her designs. “I never know where my inspiration is going to come from,” she says. “I can’t even walk down the street in Sarasota without seeing something I want to paint.” Case in point is Seagrapes, a vase emblazoned with green and orange seagrapes in an art nouveau style. Abbott got the idea for the subject after spotting a hedge of them while driving down Gulf of Mexico Drive. “I stopped and took photographs, then went home and drew them.” The vase, which retails at $400, took her a week and a half of six-hour days to draw.

In her new studio, Abbott showcases her works and those of other local artists in many media—wood, glass, pottery, fabric, beadwork and jewelry—and she plans to teach classes on painting on ceramics.

“I owned my first gallery in New Hope, Penn., and I want that sense of community again,” she says. “I want a big interchange of ideas. That’s the only way you grow as an artist.”

Prices for Abbott’s ceramics range from $30 for a one-of-a-kind tile to $1,200 for a Roman vase of a heron posing in a garden. For details, visit

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