“Everyone asks me if I feel guilty not using my degree because I spent a ton of money on it. But every aspect of my business is design-related,” says Chelsea. Her pieces reflect her design background, utilizing clean lines and strong forms, while entwining function with aesthetic. She’s cultivated a personal style that takes shape in organic, simple, earthy pieces that people want to reach out and touch.
Chelsea Erdner is the ceramicist and small-business owner behind Bombabird. Her love for clay started in high school, when a beloved teacher introduced and encouraged her in the medium. She continued to pursue art at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, earning a degree in graphic design. After working for a small design firm, the 25-year-old artist decided to follow her passion and launched Bombabird 2016 as a part-time venture. “When I graduated and started working full-time, I really missed it. Being at a computer is fine, but it’s not the same as being covered in clay and making something,” she says.
During her time at the design firm, she met her now-fiancé, Cam, who not only kindled a new love but relit her passion for ceramics with a gift of classes at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. In June 2017, she decided to commit to Bombabird full-time. Now, she works out of her own studio in the Wilkinsburg home she shares with Cam, their two rescued greyhounds, Bill and Finn, and a cheeky sun conure, Kiko.
Bombabird ceramics have made their way onto countless Pittsburgh shelves, but they’ve also taken their calming aura into the home of actor and comedian Kristen Wiig. Wiig fell in love with Chelsea’s work while on set in Pittsburgh for Where’d You Go, Bernadette, which used some of Chelsea’s work in the shoot. Her assistant reached out to order Wiig a Bombabird dinner set. “That was one of the first projects where I thought ‘I can actually do this,’” she says.
“People want to hold them and feel the textures. My end goal is for people to use my pieces in their homes, daily. I want them to be beat up and loved.” Chelsea is also fascinated by glazed chemistry and credits the foundation of her work to developing a color palette she loved. The result is a selection of muted earth tones that look soft and inviting, without ever appearing dull or without depth. The green, white, gray and even pink hues she creates are reminiscent of forest at dusk or the ocean in November.
This stunning mix of elegant but functional dinnerware and decorative pieces shows the utility and the flourish that Bombabird embodies. Mix and match Bombabird’s assorted cylinder vases to serve everything from a cold beer to a tall glass of milk. Use their clay tumblers as a planter to bring some green into your life, or as the vessel for your end-of-the-day cocktail. Even their stoneware dinner set is a perfect backdrop for both a weeknight dinner and weekend appetizers with cocktail hour.
Whether it’s gray sage, soothing eggshell, or warm-toned whites, Chelsea is dedicated to developing her own color palettes. Bombabird’s dark stoneware clay tumblers add depth to their signature white glaze. And it was her gray sage glaze that was particularly tricky, but the moody result evokes summer thunderstorms.
Texture for Days
Bombabird’s collection of unique, individually crafted vases include pops of texture and carved details on each piece that are individually hand-drawn by Chelsea, giving them a personal touch. “My brain is really busy and when I create something simple, it’s relaxing,” says Chelsea. “I can create order and repetition. It’s very satisfying to me.”