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Sandi Pierantozzi and Neil Patterson Plinth Gallery Interview

Sandi Pierantozzi

Neil Patterson

Sandi Pierantozzi and Neil Patterson: New work!

Exhibition dates:
June 1 – July 28
First Friday June 1          
Second Saturday June 9

Sandi Pierantozzi will teach a 2 day participatory workshop at the gallery presenting her innovative approach to form and surface at the gallery June 2-3. This weekend workshop will focus on using slabs, texturing the surface, and then by altering them through techniques such as darting, creating interesting and innovative forms.

Sandi Pierantozzi’s functional work comes from a deep appreciation of food, celebration, and setting a beautiful table. She feels that “pots help me connect with people on a very basic human level” by communicating some creative life into the daily rituals of eating and drinking Sandi believes that a handmade ceramics contains ”the soul and energy of the maker” and that with use, a real human connection is made. These connections between people are essential to keeping alive the soul in all of us.

Neil Patterson ceramic constructions honor the handmade object and the simple daily rituals of use. He makes pots that are designed to be used and enjoyed. Through their carefully considered volume, weight, surface and textures he hopes to provide a slow, savory experience for the user. There is always an evidence of the soft material, clay, often bolstered by a formal or architectural structure. -  Jonathan Kaplan, Plinth Gallery

For more  information on Sandi Pierantozzi and Neil Patterson please go to their website. http://sandiandneil.com/

And for more  information on Plinth Gallery go to thier webiste.  http://plinthgallery.com/

 Tell us a little about yourselves! And how did you meet?

We met at Anderson Ranch in 1989. Neil was the studio assistant in a Chris Staley workshop and Sandi was taking the workshop. We became friends during the workshop and wrote letters for a couple of years, so I guess you could say we fell in love through the mail. This was before email. Then we hitch hiked all over the UK in the summer of 1991, and that is when we knew we would be together forever.

Neil Patterson

Sandi Pierantozzi

When and how did you discover the passion for ceramics?

Neil:In high school in Cleveland, Ohio, Neil was very inspired by his teacher Joe Turkaly, and decided then he wanted to become a potter.

Sandi: At the Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Pa. Sandi got turned on to clay in 1984. She took a class because she loves to cook and wanted to learn to make serving dishes for her food. At the time she had a graphic design business, but the more she worked in clay, the more she wanted to. When computers took over graphic design, she decided to make the transition to full time potter.

Sandi Pierantozzi

Neil Patterson

What are you two showing at Plinth Gallery this month?

 Sandi will be showing her newest work in which she combines stamped designs, colored slips and slip trailing.  Forms included will be teapots, vases, candlesticks & jars, among others.

Neil will be showing his current work which is wheel thrown and assembled. Forms include boxes, vases and jars with niches. He will also be showing his newest forms, which are handbuilt bird forms.

Neil Patterson

Sandi Pierantozzi

Since our show is not theme based, we decided we would just call it “New Work” since we are both showing our most recent work.

Sandi Pierantozzi

Neil Patterson

Do you share the studio or have separate spaces? What is it like to work so closely with your spouse?

We share a studio and work right along side of each other in a fairly small space.  Working so closely together presents some challenges, but fortunately we get along very well, and respect each others creative space. We love working at the studio together and cannot imagine having it any other way.

What do you love most about your studio?

Our location in the city, near the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the community support we get from our neighborhood.

 How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

We continue to work on that, but we do have a regular Friday Night Date, where we do something fun and try not to talk about the studio.

What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?

Find sources from within and through your own studio practice. Look at the world around you for inspiration, not just at the work of other artists. You have to make a commitment of time, energy and lifestyle in order to develop and grow your work.  

Neil Patterson

Sandi Pierantozzi

Would you two explain your attraction for functional ceramics?

Sandi:Since the whole basis of my working in clay came from cooking & wanting serving dishes, that set me on a path of making things I wanted for myself, which were always functional. When people started offering me money for things I made for myself, this was a turning point. That is when I decided I would focus on functional work, so that others could enjoy a handmade pot as much as I enjoyed them. I love that people get a little piece of my soul when they buy one of my pots, and that something I made could enhance a daily meal for them.

Neil:Functional ceramics is an accessible art form that everyone can understand. It is an art form that has been practiced for thousands of years, and continues to integrate into our daily lives.

Sandi Pierantozzi

Neil Patterson

Sandi, it looks like you are handbuilding most of your pieces. Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?

I sketch a lot. I always have a sketchbook with me, since I never know when I see something that might inspire a new form. When I am ready to make a new piece, I look through my sketchbooks to see what hits me.  Then I proceed to work out the form. Sometimes I make a small piece to work out the details, but other times I just go for it. Often, the piece does not look like the sketch, but the sketch provided the spark.

Neil Patterson

Sandi Pierantozzi

Neil, it looks like you use the wheel as a tool to start the construction of your work, will you tell us how the wheel informs your choices for what you make?  And can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?

The wheel has a historic connection to pottery, but I don’t always use it in the traditional way. The process of throwing informs the choices I make. There is a “back and forth” between my ideas and what the wheel gives, such as round forms and “stripes” or throwing lines. Then I apply my ideas for forms that might be inspired by architecture or nature.

Sandi Pierantozzi

Neil Patterson

Please tell us more about  the CircleMatic Form Finder Template Set. 

Sandi: The CircleMatic Form Finder Templates are a set of 24 templates based on a circle. The development of my circular templates happened several years ago, when I broke a finger six weeks before a major craft show. Since I had to wear a splint for at least four weeks, I could not continue to make my usual work, which was based on rectangular templates, because I could not dart and push the clay out to develop the forms. I devised the circular templates so I could just make parts and stack them without having to push any walls out. This let to a whole new body of work based only on circular templates.

I started bringing a few of the templates to workshops, to teach people how to develop their own, but most people just wanted to either copy mine, or offered to buy them from me. After years of having people ask me if they could buy my templates, I decided to take the time to produce a set. I did not want the set to be a “how to” but more of a jumping off point for people to develop a variety of forms based on their own ideas of how they might put the various parts together.

Sandi and Neil

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