Friday, August 16, 2013

Ode to Monitors -- Ellen Neely

Ellen Neely

1. When did you start coming to Lillstreet?
I took my first pottery class a little over three years ago.

2. What brought/brings you to Lillstreet?
The curiously great joy I get trying to make something beautiful or useful from a lump of clay.

3. What is the nature of your clay work – functional or sculptural?
Most of my work is supposed to be functional, although I have made a few covered forms with strong sculptural elements (and a few pitchers that look good, but don’t pour so well!)

4. What is your process? Do you sketch, prototype and conceptualize?
I’ve recently started sketching – I now have little notebooks filled with ideas for pots and tiles. When I’m really interested in a form, I’ll work in a series, tweaking a spout, a handle, a rim, a foot just a little until I get what I want. And sometimes, I’ll just play around with whatever appears on the wheel – some of my favorite forms have their foundations in these kinds of experiments.

5. What or who influences your work?
Everything I see influences me – the work of other potters and craftsmen and the shapes I see in buildings, objects and nature. Trips to museums and antique shops can be particularly inspiring, but sometimes it’s just a description in a novel or a photograph in an old book that helps me start a new project. And my Lillstreet classes are a huge influence – I’ve learned so much over the past three years, and I have so much more to learn!

6. Do you work with other media besides clay?
I dabble in photography for myself, for friends and for an organization with which I’m involved.

7. What are your duties as a monitor?
My main job is to hose down and wet vac the wheel rooms and glaze area overnight on weekends. 

8. If there’s one thing you absolutely have to inform the Lillstreet clay community that would make your work easier, what would it be?
It’d be great if open hours could last all day and all night, but they can’t and they don’t. When we’re doing the floors, it’s wonderful if folks leave by 10 pm – we don’t like to kick you out, but we will!

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