Pathways in Porcelain
Artist Profile — Lynne Meade
It’s fascinating to learn what experiences and people influence an artist to create a unique body of work.
Ceramicist Lynne Meade describes her inspiration for the flowing, graphic patterns of her carved porcelain vessels and tiles as “a strange fusion of Asian, Art Deco and Art Nouveau designs; and of the ceramic artists of Mata Ortiz in Mexico.”
“I had an assignment in school to imitate some carved Chinese porcelains,” said Lynne. “I spent a semester in Paris living in an Art Nouveau building.”
“They’re these ranchers turned potters in a small town in Central Mexico and they do the most glorious work. Juan Quezada began the pottery there as a boy, when he created clay pots resembling the ancient shards he found while collecting firewood.
Lynne took all these inspirations and made something more contemporary.” Many carved porcelains are very shallow and the glaze creates the look of depth,” said Lynne. “Instead my carvings are so deep I almost make a sculpture.” She keeps to a simple color palette to let the design speak for itself and to avoid the toxic metals in many clay colorants.
Lynne is one of those lucky people who found her passionate interest early in life. “As a kid, I got a gift of clay and became obsessed with it,” she said. “I made little animals and took them in a shoebox to a consignment store. The people at the store were so sweet to me; I actually got orders for party favors.”
Lynne started learning how to throw pots in high school when, in exchange for cleaning the space, she did an unofficial apprenticeship at a clay studio in her childhood hometown of Newton, Massachusetts. “They held wonderful workshops,” said Lynne. “It was a supportive community of clay artists…I feel really lucky for how young I started.” Lynne later went on to get an Art degree with a Concentration in Ceramics.
To carve her thrown porcelain vessels and tiles takes incredible patience. Lynne meticulously carves her designs using a combination of dental tools and more traditional clay tools. “I first scratch a grid on the pot with a needle,” said Lynne. “From there I go freehand. I learned from the Mata Ortiz; their work is very geometrical. It is important to me that the carving enhance the form; that they work well together.”
She said the tiniest pot takes six hours to carve, and larger vessels 12 to 13 inches in height take from five to six days. “If it’s a really large piece, I sometimes make two,” said Lynne. “The biggest problem is poking a hole in it when carving. It’s very frustrating to spend six days carving a pot, and then poke a hole.”
Tiles can be even more challenging since during the firing process they tend to warp and crack. Lynne often creates several copies of each tile for her fireplace surrounds, to get one set to survive the firing process.
What advice does Lynne have for other artists?
“Perseverance. I’ve known phenomenally talented artists who had to give up, because they did not have the will. I’ve known moderately talented artists who accomplished much more through perseverance,” said Lynne.
Lynne is pleased with the progress she’s made over the years. “It’s amazing how much better the work is and I can see how much better the work can be,” said Lynne. “I have always felt that a professional body of work takes 15 to 20 years to ripen.”
“I am getting there, still more to go.”
Lynne Meade is a full-time ceramic artist and instructor from Oakland, California. You can see more of her work and can reach her through her website at www.lynnemeadeporcelain.com.
Which piece here is your favorite of Lynne’s designs? What experiences and people most influence your designs?