Laurie Pollpeter Eskenazi produces quirky, delightful ceramic art. She talks about her inspiration and why it’s all worth it.
ABI: Since you started working in clay, how has your work evolved?
LPE: Actually I started in 1981 while still in high school. I loved clay and spent many hours after school in the art lab. I got my degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and my work has evolved greatly since then. I used to do much larger more sculptural pieces. They did have one thing in common though. My work has always been somewhat nostalgic and personal.
ABI: How did you create your wonderful signature style?
LPE: After I got my degree, I set up a studio and worked on my own for several years. I purposely avoided looking at Art and Fine Craft publications. I went to very few workshops or galleries that included ceramics. I did not want any outside influence on my creativity. I think that is why I have been able to create a style that is truly unique and recognizable as my own. I hear it all the time, “I have never seen pottery like this.” That is the best compliment I can get.
ABI: How would you define your style and inspiration?
LPE: My pieces are feminine and playful with bits of nostalgia woven in. I work in a spontaneous manner as if I were creating a crazy quilt, layered with pattern and texture. I pay great attention to detail, yet the pieces possess a non-manicured quality much like a wild English garden.
Inspiration comes from traditional needle crafts and the items on my Grandmother’s dresser. I grew up around many creative women. My Grandmother did embroidery and crochet. My Great Grandmother was a weaver. My Mother was always creating something on our ping pong table and there were many beautiful quilts around, made by family members. The glazes I use are lush and vibrant. They are applied with small brushes to create a mosaic look reminiscent of ethnic pottery from other countries. I often hear,” Are the Turkish? Spanish? Moroccan?” “Nope, small town Midwest.” I say.
ABI: Is your pottery food-safe?
LPE: Yes absolutely. We use it every day at our house. The pieces are very sturdy. We even put them in the dishwasher.
ABI: How did you make the transition from retail to wholesale?
LPE: Years ago friends who were already selling wholesale kept telling me I should do the same. At the time I was doing retail shows and my pricing was not at a level I could do 50/50. Little by little I started increasing my prices and found that my work was still selling, perhaps even better. It’s the perceived value thing. So in 2006 I took the leap. I got started on WholesaleCrafts.com and did the first ACRE show in Las Vegas. Since that time my business has grown exponentially! I have galleries all over the country and it has given me great exposure. At this point I’d say 85% of my sales are wholesale.
ABI: Tell us about your collectors.
LPE: I have many collectors from all over the country now. Some of them have been collecting my work since the early 90’s. It is always wonderful to go into their homes and see things I made 15 -20 years ago. It’s like a retrospective of my work. I often see pieces and think,” Wow that is really nice. I forgot I ever made that shape. Perhaps I should do it again in my present style.”