by Zeva Bellel
Photos by Fabrice Fortin
French ceramic artist Claire de LavalleÌe draws on her skills from her former life as a baker to works her clay into brightly-hued organic shapes.
Surrounded by wall-to-wall cupboards, cutting boards and rolling pins galore, her wonderfully-cluttered Left Bank atelier has the look and feel of an industrial kitchen. But instead of turning out batches of rustic tarts or bulbous baguettes, she fills her ovens with handmade vases, plates, cups and bowls with gorgeously rough-hewn forms and earthy saturated colors.
âI would wake up in the middle of the night and take out my rolling pin and cutting board and instead of making pastries, I found myself creating objects,â says de Lavallée who worked at a Parisian tea salon before making a full-time move to ceramics in 1989.
The artisan couldn't have had better training—both jobs transform simple natural ingredients into something nourishing for the senses via massive amounts of heat.
While most artists specialize in one type of clay (earthenware, stoneware or porcelain), de Lavallée loves and works with them all.
âEven though I experiment with a lot of different materials, people have no problem recognizing my work,â says de Lavallée, whose naturalistic designs with their handmade electrifying enamels, metallic finishes and ambiguous textures are not only striking, but highly collectible.
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