Artist and Ceramicist, San Francisco, CA
Carole Neilson's Ceramics center on her relationship with clay as a material.
Since her discovery clay at the Academy of Art in Mol, Belgium she has moved many times, but ceramics have always remained a constant. Now living in San Francisco, Carole focuses on exploring the most elemental aspects of ceramics to produce a collection that is at once timeless and contemporary.
Q: To begin with, could you describe the firing process that gives your work it’s beautiful and unique surface quality?
A: My porcelain pieces are first bisqued and then glazed in an electric kiln in my studio, a tow stage process. Then I use a third alternative fire, using fine combustible to give an unique pattern of color.
Q: How has your background in the sciences influenced the way you approach ceramics?
A: I studied molecular biology and worked for ten years in a research lab. This background has given me the skills and curiosity to explore and experiment. More importantly it gave me the discipline to record everything I do in work notebooks. The research science background also installs a discipline of constant innovation. You push the rules and limits right out of the box.
Q: Does your work as a teacher make you a better student in your own practice?
A: I am teacher at school but always a student in the world of ceramics. The huge diversity in ceramics puts a certain obligation in learning and finding out; there is so much you don't know.
"I studied molecular biology and worked for ten years in a research lab. This background has given me the skills and curiosity to explore and experiment."
Q: You live in San Francisco now, but it seems like your French roots still have a major influence on your work. Would you say this is true and if yes then how so?
A: Firstly San Francisco provides another angle on " anything is possible" which opens another creative direction.
My French /Alsace roots drives me to consider what my place and role in ceramics is. Am I an artist or a potter?
In Alsace every object has a function. For example in the past, a jug for beer did not have the same shape as a jug for serving wine. I really adore the functionality of an object. I identity myself as an "artisan."
Q: What are your plans for the next year and what are you most excited about?
A: I will show my work in two fairs before Christmas, Unique SFand Renegade craft fair in San Francisco. Also I have my pieces at in two regular venues in San Francisco and one shop in Venice Beach and I really love the special connections I have with the owners at these eclectic places. I'm also working with a top chef on creating dinnerware for a series of extra special dinner parties. This really "fires" my creative side as this project is unique.