Connie Norman
Connie Norman

Plinth Gallery Artist Interviews – Lisa Pedolsky Part 2

Lisa Pedolsky’s handbuilt functional forms  go beyond strict utility. They are also vessels that hold personal references where a myriad of experiences and ideas reside, establishing context and giving meaning to the work.

Package design and dressmaking come to mind as the piece is brought to life by cutting, folding, darting and connecting. Visual and tactile depth is developed through the application of multiple layers of clay, slips, stains and glazes, and by scraping, incising and carving into the surface. This working process is slow and methodical. – Jonathan Kaplan, Plinth Gallery

Lisa is teaching a workshop at Plinth Gallery -April 6-7, 2013 “Design, Decoration and the Handbuilt Pot”

Using techniques similar to package design and dressmaking, we will  explore a multi-layered approach to slab constructed functional  ceramics.  Participants will be guided through the process from initial  drawings, to pattern design using paper and roofing felt, to assembling  components. Surface treatment will include the use of slip, sgraffito,  stencils, and unconventional tools to achieve visual and tactile depth.   Technical and aesthetic aspects will be considered while exploring  closed and open forms including boxes, bowls, platters and cups.  Participants will leave the workshop feeling competent in a number of  forming methods.

•All levels of experience are welcome.

•Cost for 2 days, includes all materials and catered lunch  $250

Check out Lisa’s web site, Two Fish Studio.

Lisa’s work can be seen at Plinth Gallery.

What are you showing at Plinth Gallery this month?

The show is titled, Connecting the Dot’s: Design, Decoration and the Hand built Pot. There is a play on words here, since there will be literally thousands of dots on the work in the show. Beyond that, I’ve created an array of forms, all connected by design elements and relationship such as groupings and sets. More specifically, one will find boxes (among my favorites to build),vases, platters, teapots, bowls, plates and cups .

Let‘s go back to the very beginning how did you become a ceramicist?

There are a number of “beginnings” in this becoming. Without wanting to sound overly sentimental, I must acknowledge my very first awareness of clay. This was when I was just five years old and my mother was taking a ceramic s class. I truly do remember my moment of awareness and I was awed. My art path was evident over the course of my childhood years and throughout there was an interest in clay, supported by a strong arts program in my high school. I went on to California College of the Arts (then, California College of Arts and Crafts) and U.C. Berkeley, where I studied under such notables as Viola Frey (CCAC) and Peter Voulkos (U.C.B.). For many post-graduation years I worked in a variety of other media and in 1999 made the decision to dedicate myself to work in clay.  So, the short answer is that after many years in the arts, a career focused in ceramics began in earnest fourteen years ago.


You create mostly functional work. How would you explain your attraction for functional ceramics?

I have an interest in innovative design and impeccable craftsmanship that can be traced back to the mid-century modern furniture and household objects that surrounded me during my youth. As a young artist I also became interested in traditional Japanese craft and traditional textiles and functional objects coming out of Africa. These are all deep-seated influences that continue to inform my work. Often, I am awed by the artistry that can be found in even the most humble objects intended for everyday use. I’m excited by the challenges inherent in creating functional forms that that are also compelling in design.

There is a visible preoccupation with pattern in your work; how do you do it and how important is pattern and surface for the message you want to send?

Pattern and surface are integral to my work; The forms I create would be otherwise incomplete. When I conceptualize a piece, pattern and surface are among the many considerations from the start. Over the years I’ve developed an extensive “visual vocabulary.”  Part of this developed out of necessity. Because I use electric kilns, visual and tactile depth will not be provided by the firing process; it’s up to me to work surfaces to achieve those results. However, be yond t ha t is the story in the work. I may give a nod to a spectacular textile I’ve seen, appreciating the nuances that can only result from a work made by hand. The beauty found in calligraphy – Kanji and Arabic, for example – moved me to create my own characters that are often used repetitively on the surface of a piece. These are but two examples. In all cases I’m interested in personalizing influences so that the marks I make are truly my own.  I employ numerous methods t o achieve my results. Often I’ll distress the clay surface, scraping and poking with a variety of tools; white or colored slip is applied, sometimes over stencils or resist, leaving some of the red clay exposed. Sgraffito, stamping, staining and applying layers of underglazes and glazes all contribute to building up the surface and to patterning.

What techniques do you usually work with and what is your favorite tool?

All of my forms are slab constructed. Each piece begins as thumbnail sketch followed by a scale drawing. (I never thought I’d appreciate any of the math and geometry I was taught in public school, but I do! I’ve dredged up long forgotten lessons and have refreshed my memory online.  Numbers and proportions are essential to my design process.) I then create pattern pieces – working much like a dressmaker or package designer – that are attached to the clay slab. From there I cut out and assemble the components, and follow with surface texturing and glaze processes. All work is twice fired and I take the glaze fire to cone 03.  It’s difficult to pick one favorite tool. I use many that have served me well for years. I’ll pick one tool made specifically for clay and one that has been repurposed. At the commercial end, my Mud Tool steel scraper is indispensable; I use it for both scoring and texturing and there isn’t a piece that this tool doesn’t touch. My repurposed tool is a plastic cap that came off a hair spray bottle. I’ve been stamping and incising with this tool for ten or more years, and have a bright yellow tape running around the middle of it so I can easily identify it from among the many other handy objects in my collection. I could write pages about my tools! 

Tell us what you do for fun when you’re out of the studio.

For one thing, I’m a foodie, interested in cooking and also culinary experiences. If I’ve been unable to produce work in the studio for more than a day or two I invariably find myself creating in the kitchen. Baking is a strong interest of mine; some aspects are much like working with clay so it seems there’s no escaping it! In my mountain town hiking opportunities abound and my bicycle is important to me in all but the coldest months of the year. I’m a long time Yoga practitioner (and Yoga certainly contributes to keeping me balanced and well, given the rigors of my creative process). Travel and the urban experience are high on the fun list, too.

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2 Responses to “Plinth Gallery Artist Interviews – Lisa Pedolsky Part 2”

  1. Patricia Griffin Says:

    Wow, Connie, I just found your blog… Read all the posts and loved the interviews. Fantastic! Thank you for sharing all this great stuff.

  2. Connie Says:

    Patricia I clicked on you site and your work is beautiful! Thanks for the comment and nice words!