Elizabeth Paley

Elizabeth Paley

A life-long pianist, I find working with clay similar to practicing a musical instrument: both processes invite one to develop attention to form and detail, to balance technique with improvisation, and to discover a personal creative voice. Alongside music, my background in physics and math informs my art. For my “zigzag” and “swoosh” vessels, I cut or swipe patterns into slipped cylinders; these expand into captivating organic designs as I stretch the pots from the inside. Friction torques vertical lines into spirals; parallel swooshes drift apart or scrunch together; and coarse canyons emerge between smooth-slipped plateaus. The transformations are different every time, functions of variables both within and beyond my control: initial patterns, depths of cuts, slopes of curves, plasticity of clay bodies, magnitude of expansion, and directional spin of the wheel. My glazed work includes functional ware as well as more sculptural forms, such as double-walled camellia bowls and pear-shaped “salt rocks.” I make the double-walled bowls all at once on the wheel, with no subsequent altering. It has been a pleasure figuring out how to take advantage of the pottery wheel—a tool that promotes symmetry—to intentionally make the inner bowls off-center.

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PHOTOS

  • Jet stream vase

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