Connie Norman
Connie Norman

Posts Tagged ‘Lisa Pedolsky’

Plinth Gallery Artist Interviews – Lisa Pedolsky Part 2

Monday, April 1st, 2013

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.

Western Table Manners – NCECA Houston

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

NCECA is coming up FAST!  I’m having a really hard time keeping up!  Mike Olson and I coordinated a group show for NCECA of mostly western ceramic artists.  Our show is called Western Table Manners, and it’s all over the table in what will be in the show.

Houston Community College – South East

6815 Rustic

Houston, Texas

 I will post pictures when I get to NCECA, but for now, here is the PR that the HCC put out for all the shows that are going on at the college.

Here is a list of who’s in our show. 

Kurt Anderson

Elaine DeBuhr

Danny Brown

Rod Dugal

Lynn Munns

Connie Norman

Ryan Olsen

Mike Olson

Lisa Pedolsky

Yoko Sekino-Bove

Ted Vogel

Below you can see a list of all the shows at Houston Community College – Southeast

Lisa Pedolsky – Artist Interview

Monday, July 12th, 2010


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

Lisa’s work can be seen at Plinth Gallery.

artful-home-spring-catalog-09-0011 Lisa Pedolsky’s forms are hand built slabs constructed in terra cotta. Beginning as a sketch, each form evolves with the use of patterns, cutting, folding, darting and assembling. Lisa uses many homemade or found objects to create unique patterns on the clay and to apply slips and glazes in an interesting way. 

I first became aware of Lisa’s ceramics when our work appeared together in The Artful Home Spring Catalog in 2009. (The photo on the above.)  Then our paths crossed again when Jonathan Kaplan of Plinth Gallery introduced us for the interview series.  If you’re dying to know how she puts her work together she is teaching a workshop at the Taos Clay Studio, July 17 &18!

Tell us a little about yourself!

I grew up in and around New York City and involved myself in the arts throughout my childhood.  In the early seventies I moved to the Bay Area where I pursued my formal art education at California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, and U.C. Berkeley.  Presently I live in Durango, Colorado where I am a studio artist.


How did you become an artist?

I’ve been a “creative” all my life. In elementary school an hour in the art room was the highlight of every week, and in my later childhood years I was scandalized to learn that Art was not everyone’s favorite subject in school. Playing at art was part of my home life as well, and art progressed naturally as I became more serious and focused over the years. It was a given that I would study art in college. (What else was there?) My post college path was circuitous for a time but I always returned to art. I think it was both nature and nurture that did it for me.


How would you describe your style? One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with your own style and signature look?

Style is a tough one to convey in words. I have not consciously worked at developing a style. Rather, it is something existent that I have cultivated. Each of us has innate tendencies: our touch, flamboyance or exactitude, approach, etc. An overview of my work from earliest pieces to my most recent body of work will reveal characteristics throughout that are uniquely mine. As my work has developed and matured over time these characteristics have become more pronounced and refined.


What keeps you motivated?

It certainly helps to love one’s work, which I do.  Many years ago I identified myself as a strongly kinesthetic learner. I find that information and ideas are best addressed when I am in motion, and so it comes as no surprise that my process is so physical in nature. Working with my hands both engages and frees my mind.  The purest moments in the studio occur when I am completely given over to the work and time seems not to exist.

I am compelled to create.


Are you a full-time artist? How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?

Yes, I am a full-time artist.

My process of slab construction is very much like package design or dressmaking, and a plan must be hatched before I touch the clay. I spend hours thinking about forms and do a lot of problem solving before taking pencil to paper. All pieces start as drawings from which patterns are made. Patten pieces are attached to the clay slab followed by cutting, folding, darting, connecting, etc. I also have a strong idea about surface treatment from the start. That said I’m open to deviating from my original plan if something interesting presents itself along the way. It’s an exciting, engaging process. Attention to detail and fine craftsmanship are paramount in my work, and I find my own character in this regard to contrast with that of my gritty earthenware clay which is loose and casual in nature. The clay and I have developed a wonderful symbiotic relationship over the years.


What was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?

I have been a maker of things as far back as I can remember. The act is more than the mere fabrication of objects; it is my way of processing information as well as communicating, and runs the gamut from meditation to obsession.


What or who inspires you?

There’s no short answer, but here are a few examples.

In 1972 I visited an exhibit at MoMa, African Textiles and Decorative Arts. The sublime nature of the work through the use of unassuming materials was striking. There was an intangible depth (something beyond physical attributes) in much of the work that I found engaging and which I strive to achieve in my own. The human touch evident in so many pieces stirred me. Many of the objects from that show – textiles, hats, implements of all kinds, and so on – remain influential. Through my show catalog I continue to contemplate these pieces.

I have another book, now out of print, called How to Wrap Five More Eggs. It contains page after page of images of ingenious Japanese packaging. Dried fishes strung together with raffia have an unexpected beauty. Humble materials are used to extraordinary ends. I am able to see these objects through a child’s eye, with no preconceptions, as so many pictured are unfamiliar to me. I value this perspective.

Lately I’ve been noticing the effects of urban decay – distressed street striping and rusted dumpsters in particular – with great interest and curiosity. This will undoubtedly affect my work in some way.


How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

I pay attention. I’ve been working at my art for enough years to recognize when I need a break, whether for an hour in my day or a day in my week. My studio is right outside my back door, and although I am quite disciplined this easy access allows for less rigidity in my work schedule. There are times when I push long and hard to meet deadlines, but time in the studio can also be seductive. I make room for the people in my life and my many other interests. Balance seems to affect my performance as an artist in a most positive way.


You, like most people enjoy the process of making and crafting and didn’t get into it for the sake of “business”. But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition from crafter to a businessperson. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?

When I discovered that I wanted to spend my days in the studio above all else, business was inevitable. In my opinion, the work is never to be compromised. Trial and error has great value. Research. Learn from others. Be accountable.


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

Make honest work. If you’re stuck, start with what you know. Experiment. Take risks. Be courageous.

Thanks Lisa!!