Her holiday pop-up is almost as famous as her pottery
Using a flexible Dolan carving knife to cut oblong spheres in damp cork-colored clay, ceramicist Heather Levine needs only 30 minutes to transform a wheel-thrown ball into a one-of-a-kind pendant.
“I’m attracted to a vintage feel,” she says of the stoneware lamps that radiate eye-catching light formations from the perforated circles. “I love modern too. The cutouts feel fresh and current and fun.”
Spend time with Levine in her Glassell Park studio and you might find yourself looking at the world differently. In her hands, leftover clay scraps and discarded driftwood you might encounter on the beach in Ventura are converted into delicate, bohemian-style wall hangings that line the walls of her studio.
“I had bins of the cutouts and felt guilty about wasting material,” she says of the clay circles, teardrops and triangles she hangs from driftwood. “I was cooking dinner one night with friends and we just started stringing them. Now I can’t make them fast enough.”
After majoring in fine art photography and minoring in ceramics at Syracuse University, the New York native put down roots in Los Angeles following a trip to California.
“I took a road trip to visit my mother in Del Mar and thought ‘Wow, people get to live here?’ ” she says with a laugh.
She moved to Los Angeles, got a job at a photo agency and started making lamps in her spare time at Xiem Clay Center in Pasadena. Eventually, she grew weary of traveling all the time and decided — at seven months pregnant — to try to make it work as a full-time ceramicist.
A representative for the Ojai Rancho Inn saw her work at Dream Collective and offered her a life-changing commission. “It was such a great first job,” she says of designing 58 lamps for the newly refurbished hotel in Ojai.. “They told me to do what I wanted. I tried to keep them playful.”