Artist Leslie Hagen creates fun and whimsical ceramic work on the beautiful island of Kauai in Hawaii. She shares her portfolio and inspiration.
ABI: What inspires you to create your masks and sculptures?
LH: I have always been a fan of dimensional art even though I started out as a painter. Dimensional art often begs to be touched and then too, there are four or more sides to enjoy. The inspiration for my pieces comes from many places, the news, for instance. To be able to make a statement about the nonsense going on in the world that will make someone laugh, is almost healing. I know it puts a smile on my face when I see someone laughing about one of my pieces.
Often inspiration comes in the middle of the night, or during a conversation with a friend. Faces, human or animal, have been a fascination for me since childhood. There can be so many stories told and feelings inspired by just an expression on a face. Endless possibilities with facial expression coupled with crazy or unexpected adornments keeps me intrigued and inspired. My work can be described anywhere from beautiful, quirky, hideous, humorous or scary.
ABI: Tell us about your fun and original yarn bowl designs.
LH: I am not a knitter, but I can make a unique yarn bowl. I noticed what a hot item they had become on Etsy back in the days when they were just a hole in a bowl. So I decided I would create new and unusual bowls that had not been done before. This kept my interest in making them and helps pay for my clay habit. Now I see other Etsy potters exploring the yarn bowl phenomena with new and fun ideas and that makes me happy.
ABI: How have you dealt with shipping issues?
LH: Shipping pottery is pretty tricky. It took me some time to figure out the best strategies in packing, which came pretty quickly after the heartbreak of a few broken sculptures and unhappy customers. I can’t tell you how sad it is to receive a picture of a piece that you put your heart and soul into, in pieces from a customer.
Relying on insurance is a not sure thing. Now I have the sculptures professionally packed and shipped. That is a sure thing. The smaller pieces, I use USPS flat rate boxes because they are free, lots of bubble wrap, shrink wrap and extra cardboard to strengthen the boxes. I had a stamp made “Handmade in America” which I proudly stamp on every box.
ABI: How do you go about creating a successful open studio event?
LH: I am lucky to live on an island with a huge amount of visitors. That and a road they often travel on to see the sights. When I know I will be spending the day in my studio, which has a gallery and deck where I present my work, I put the Pottery Studio Open sign out on the road. It’s fun, and I meet people from all over the world.
I belong to several art communities (Kauai Society of Artists and Women Artists of Kauai) here and through them I have met other artists in the neighborhood. We get together about once a month and open our studios to the public. We advertise through social media, flyers, email and word of mouth.