Design, production, glaze formulation, firing, shipping, emailing…
- MA Sustainable Communities, Northern Arizona University
- BS Natural Resource Science and Politics, Humboldt State University
- AA Sociology, Foothill College
Mr Gnomekins resides over the studio directing much of our day to day operations. He likes very short walks (ok standing still) in the garden, rainbow capes, and warming by the 2000 degree kiln
Sometimes you need a hand getting everything done. I occasionally have both formal and informal studio assistants, as well as the best community of fellow potters to procrastinate and collaborate with daily.
Lisa Eldredge grew up on the water and in the woods around the San Francisco Bay. Her earliest adventures included setting out solo in her little rowboat, Buttercup, where she communed with seals and rowed for hours through swift tides. On land she embraced the sights, sounds, and flavors of the Bay Area, punctuated with ventures into the lush redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
From the decks of sailing ships, Lisa traveled along the California coast and New England, teaching education programs, restoring wooden boats, and visiting remote surf breaks from sea. At age twenty-one she had lived in seven coastal states, held a captains license and professional certifications, and was inspired to pursue a college education on dry land.
On the fog-enveloped coast of Northern California, Humboldt State University nurtured Lisa’s fascination with the natural world around her through a scientific and philosophical lens. During the summers she conducted rare plant and spotted owl surveys for the US Forest Service, and in the winters she interned on an organic farm, worked as a bicycle mechanic, built wooden kayaks, and was a board member of a regional land trust. Inspired by the food and farm culture of Northern California, she applied to graduate school to study local food systems, which is how she landed in the high desert mountains of Northern Arizona, making pottery and wandering the woods during breaks from her thesis.
While Lisa did finish her thesis on food systems, she also spent countless hours in the ceramics lab learning as much as she could in her last year of school. The fascinating historical influences of Hopi and Navajo tribes in the region meant that even just a walk in the woods yielded shards of 800 year old, highly decorative functional pottery to examine. Motifs of water, food, and nature adorned many of those pots, highlighting connections between food, art, and nature, which inspired Lisa to reflect on her own similar influences.
Returning to the west coast, Lisa worked in food justice while pursuing ceramic art in her spare time. She was invited to teach ceramics at the community studio she was part of, and shortly after was asked to take over management of the studio as well. Always game for an adventure, she said yes.
Lisa continues to manage that studio today while producing ceramics as a full time artist. Her past and continued travels greatly influence daily reflections on how sense of place and relationships with nature influence her as a person and an artist. The sights, sounds, and scents of travels, and the curious awkwardness in exploring both the familiar and the daunting ecosystems she calls home, draw her in to continually create and explore.
For ages, boat builders have pushed the limits of balancing beautifully proportioned lines with smart and simple functionality. Similarly inspired curves, proportions, and design elements work their way into my pottery, complimented by inspiration from the woods, mountains, and coast ecosystems that I call home.
I start with sketches before moving on to small test runs of varied designs. If some of those feel right, I pull out their best design aspects to incorporate into larger production batches. Each batch comes out a little different but I try to have some larger runs of styles that I continue to make throughout the year. My non-production pieces are one-off works that I make to explore different ideas and are at times wildly different from my typical work.
I largely wheel throw and slab build my work out of stoneware or porcelain. I make a variety of my own tools to meet the exact needs of my processes. Wheel thrown pieces are always trimmed, sometimes altered, and are often quite precise. Hand built slab works are more heavily composed and textured, sometimes showing seams and joints to highlight their constructed form. Both styles are often reverently nodding to the artisan influence of pre-industrial designs.
I mainly fire to cone 6 oxidation in electric kilns, which I find to be both practical and versatile. As time allows, I work with other artists to do small specialty batches in atmospheric firings using gas or wood. I mix my own glazes and conduct extensive testing to get just the right glaze for the form and function of my works. The resulting pieces are sturdy, usable, food safe, and lead-free.