Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lisa Howard's Lickable Pottery

I know, such an odd impulse to have with pottery, but the first time I held one of Lisa's Local Pottery bowls in my hand that's what I wanted to do. Maybe it's their frosted cookie-ness. But they are delicious looking and each one totally hand built, painted blimpy dab at a time and pure joy to hold. She stopped by the other day with armfuls of tea bowls and tiny serving pieces to show me the new green she's fallen in love with. Her face is still a little brown from her month camping on St. John and her blue green eyes sparkled as she described the color of the water that inspired this new line. A deeper shade of seafoam, higher up on the Pantone page, this green got me too. She is a (mostly self-taught) potter working out of studio and gallery, Local Pottery, that she opened in Pembroke, MA in 1996.  She makes pots, teaches classes and represents the work of 20 or so other fine craftspeople.  Lisa lives in the pretty little seaside town of Scituate, MA where she can garden fanatically and try to ride her mountain bike without crashing. 

Can you tell me about your latest body of work?
I make functional pottery.  Every piece is different.  I don't measure for consistent sizing or make multiples.  Making pots has to feel like exploring.  I like seeing all the different sizes and patterns piled together.  It feels abundant-like looking at all the goodies in a French bakery.  Right now, I'm really into this new green that I'm using and also some fairly dense patterning.
What inspires you the most lately?
Where I live is so beautiful, it would be hard not to be inspired.  Mornings, I watch the sunrise over the harbor.  The color and feel of any given morning can be familiar but never exactly the same as another.  I look at the marsh, plants, birds, boats, trees.  I think about the way things grow and change and then make patterns that are visual metaphors or reminders. 

What was your first memory?
Growing up, we had this big old orange long-haired cat named Brandy.  I loved that cat. 

Can you describe the best thing you saw on your last walk?
That Spring is here!  The trees are budding and from a distance look covered in reddish frizz.  The lichen looks electric against it.  It's my favorite time of year. 

What are five things that would happen in the perfect day of work for you?
It all starts with getting up early enough to watch the sun come up and read for an hour or so while I drink my coffee.  It gets me in the right place-relaxed but fully awake and not rushed.  Then once I am at the shop, I switch around public radio and music while I trim pots and start decorating.  I especially love the wet parts of ceramic process.  All my color is applied to surfaces that are what American potters call leather hard.  (The Brits call it "cheese-hard" which I actually think is a better description).  A really good, flowy work day has a lot of decorating in it.  It's pretty rhythmic and I can bounce between a number of pieces.   Sometimes I bring things outside to work on. I can tend my plants when I need to stand up and stretch.   Most days, customers and friends are around, too.  It would be no fun potting in a vacuum

Can you describe the best pair of shoes you've ever owned?

I'm wearing them!  Black cherry leather  Troentorp closed-back clogs.  The leather is hand-nailed to the wooden part your foot is on.  The very bottom is rubber-they sound great when I walk. 

What are you doing this weekend? (March 28, 29)
March 27-29:  My shop is open on Saturday, so my weekend is Sunday-Monday.  I'll plant the rest of my pansies (Delta Blue with Blotch, mostly), take out the mountain bike.  I have a lunch date with an old friend and my dad will be 79 on on Tuesday, so I'm sure we'll celebrate that, too. 


  1. They are lovely! And I completely understand what you mean about lickable. I sometimes feel that way about art, jewellery, different colours...

  2. Thanks for sharing Lisa's beautiful work! It is simply scrumptious!
    And I love this question: "
    "What are five things that would happen in the perfect day of work for you?"

    - |<@ren
    That was perfect.
    A good question to consider each night before I retire. "What would my day be like if I focused on five things that are excellent?" Thanks, Alyn!