Design, production, glaze formulation, firing, shipping, office management.
- 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 explored the sights, sounds, and flavors of Bay Area cities, punctuated with ventures into the lush redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains. These early experiences fostered an intimate connection with nature, a stubborn determination, and a deep love for wandering.
From the decks of sailing ships, Lisa continued her adventures traveling along the California coast and New England, teaching education programs, restoring wooden boats, and visiting remote surf breaks from sea. Eight years later, at the age of twenty-one she had lived in seven coastal states, held a captains license and professional certifications, and was well into a maritime career. Her career was swiftly derailed when, inspired by her shipmates, she took time off for college and quickly remembered her love for land.
On the Foggy coast of Northern California, Humboldt State University nurtured Lisa’s fascination with the natural world around her through a scientific and philosophical lens. Never shying from work, she also conducted rare plant and spotted owl surveys for the US Forest Service, 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.
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. Having worked with her hands throughout her life, clay was a natural medium to explore her creativity. The presence 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 pottery to examine. Motifs of water, food, and nature adorned many of those pots, which inspired Lisa to reflect on her own parallel influences.
Returning to the west coast, Lisa worked in food justice while pursuing ceramic art in her spare time, eventually teaching ceramics at a community studio. 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 art, complimented by inspiration from the woods, mountains, and coast ecosystems that I call home. My work reflects foggy days, cool river dips, and golden grasslands, blended with spicy sweet smells, the crack of branches underfoot, mushroom forays and meals of home grown food shared with friends.
I start designing 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 the next small batch. While I try to have some larger runs of designs that I continue to make throughout the year, each batch is an evolution of form and style. Little adjustments are made here and there as ideas are refined and explored. My non-production pieces are one-off works that I use to test new and inspired ideas, and are at times very different from my typical work.
I largely wheel throw and slab build out of stoneware or porcelain clay. I use about twelve different commercial clays and make several with my own formulas, in order to meet the demands of the intended piece. I make a variety of my own tools as well, tapping into woodworking practices from my past. Wheel thrown pieces are trimmed, sometimes altered, and are often quite precise. Hand built slab works are more heavily composed, textured, and layered, sometimes showing seams and joints to highlight their constructed form. Both styles often reverently nod to the artisan influence of pre-industrial designs, which I encountered a great deal in sailing wooden ships. A handmade item for daily use can be both practical and carefully crafted to create a certain feeling in the user, whether this feeling is joy, agitation, or connection to nature. As an artist and maker I enjoy exploring the connections between people, items, and the world around us, through my work.
I mainly fire mid-range oxidation in electric kilns, which I find to be both practical and versatile. I make my own glazes and conduct extensive testing to get just the right glaze for the form and function of my works, as well as different firing techniques to influence those glazes. Recently I have been working with other artists to do small specialty batches in atmospheric firings as well, using gas, wood, and soda. Enjoying the more complicated dance between artist and clay in these firings has been a great learning process that I will be continuing in the next year thanks to a recent grant. Clay is a multi-layered art form, and there is no end in sight for the possibilities of its exploration