ERNA AALTONEN graduated as a ceramicist from the Kuopio Academy of Design in 1987. After her studies, she was invited to work in the Arabia factory’s product development laboratory and during this period she was involved in preparing the launch of Arabia’s new Pro Arte collection. While working at Arabia, she also met her future husband, artist Howard Smith. They both moved to Tervakoski, where they produced studio ceramics under the Arteos brand. She began her own production in her new studio when the couple moved to Fiskars in 1996.

Round forms constructed by hand in band technique have become characteristic of Aaltonen’s work. They are sometimes emphasised with an extremely thin clay paste but also with the rich and detailed treatment of the surface. In the early 2000s, she developed an engobe technique, in which layered slurry together with glaze creates a texture in which realms of colour created by various oxides give the pots brilliant surfaces. 

Erna Aaltonen has displayed her work in group exhibitions and her own gallery shows in Sweden, Belgium, France, Japan, Mexico and the United States, among other countries. 

Erna Aaltonen lives and works at Fiskars Village and is a member of the ONOMA Cooperative of Artisans, Designers and Artists in Fiskars. She is also a member of the International Academy of Ceramics (IAC).


Photo: Johanna Ekman