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Self-taught Ceramicist Lisa Bone

Dec 30, 2016 11:32AM ● By David Norby

Self-taught ceramicist Lisa Bone—who creates unique pieces using horse hair—also offers 

 classes for small groups of women looking to have a fun, relaxing evening and make a piece of art they can be proud of. She also does custom orders for clients, in addition to making urns and personal gifts. “I want people to like what they see,” says Bone. “No one sees the same thing in one piece, and if someone gets personal pleasure from one of my pieces—then I couldn't be happier.”

HLB: How do you craft pottery with horse hair? 

LB: [The pieces] are fired in a gas kiln and then removed and put into the open air when the horse hair is applied. The hair burning onto the exterior leaves a carbon marking where the hair was placed. The process takes only a few minutes, as the vessel cools quickly, and the hair will no longer burn onto the exterior. Oftentimes, people will send me tail hair from a special horse or one that has passed; the bond between a horse and its owner is a special one. Horse hair pottery is also popular with people who don't own horses, because it has such an organic, earthy feel.

HLB: What are some of your major influences?

LB: Because I'm pretty much self-taught, my influences are from books and the Internet. When I see a certain style or technique [I like], I research and experiment with it. As with all art, you can be influenced by someone, but when you do it yourself, it becomes your own style and often doesn't really resemble what you originally tried to do. Failures and mistakes have influenced me more than anything. Some interesting pieces have come from mistakes that I capitalized on.

HLB: Where do you find daily inspiration? 

LB: In my life situations at the time. If I want to express something personal, I’ll work on a sculpture or a plaque that can translate a message or feeling. Also, if I have a particular piece turn out better than I had hoped or envisioned, it becomes an inspiration for me to achieve and build upon.  

HLB: Is there any advice you wish you were given while starting out? 

LB: Patience. Rome wasn't built in a day, and some of my best work came about after letting it sit for a bit. Pottery doesn’t have to be completed in one sitting. My complex shapes turn out better when I let the clay firm up a bit to gain strength. This has been the hardest lesson—to just slow down.

HLB: Do you have any goals for the future? 

LB: It takes years to become good on the wheel. Each year I’m better, but I’ll never feel like I'm good enough. I’m always trying to improve my technique and skill—making it lighter, taller, more detailed or complex. I'm like a jack of all trades in that I make many different kinds of ceramic art. I get bored doing the same technique, shape or design, so I often switch it up and hope that people following me continuously wonder what I'm up to.    

Article by Heather L. Becker // main photo by Dante Fontana // art piece photos courtesy of Lisa Bone