Sheldon Ceramics is located in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA. They are owned and operated by ceramic artist, Peter Sheldon, and his all around awesome girlfriend and business partner, Ellen Woglom. Together, they create beautiful, one-of-a-kind, functional wares and accents for the home. Each piece is crafted by Peter to embrace the unique variations and personality of the materials.
We spoke to them about their influences and creative process.
What is your background and how have your past experiences fed into your art?
Peter: I graduated from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. with a BS in Ceramics and Fine Art. I further cultivated my craft by immersing myself in ceramic residencies in the United States and abroad. Much of my practice explored wood-firing and the use of anagama kilns. This labor-intensive technique, brought from China to Japan via Korea in the 5th century, utilizes the chance encounter of flame and ash to build a unique surface over days of constant stoking. With this process, I gained an appreciation for the simplicity of form, and beauty of natural glazes. Currently, our work is fired in electric kilns, but the markings of flame and ash have had a lasting influence on the work.
Ellen and I grew up together in Vermont. Upon graduating from high school, we each embarked on our own adventures. After a decade apart, we reunited in 2012 and began traveling back and forth from Montana to California to see each other. In 2014, I made the move to Los Angeles and became a Visiting Artist at The American Museum of Ceramic Arts in Pomona, CA. With Ellen’s passion for interior design and my skills as a potter, we quickly found that we not only made a great team in life, but in business as well.
Ellen: I have worked in television & film since the age of 17, but have always had a very strong passion for all things interior design. Upon Peter’s move to Los Angeles, I saw an opportunity to unite creatively and develop what would become Sheldon Ceramics. My work is essentially freelance, so I’ll film for a few months and have time off between jobs or seasons. Creatively, this hiatus can feel stifling, so I saw this as a great opportunity to not only utilize and combine our strengths, but also provide me with an outside creative outlet. Though I knew nothing of the makings of pottery at the time, I yearned for neutral, provincial ceramics for my own home, yet had trouble finding any. Not that there aren’t many wonderful makers out there, I simply had a hard time tracking them down online. When you’re the maker, it can be difficult to find the time or desire to self-promote. With Peter busy making the work we design together, I felt I could really dive in and focus on getting the work we wanted to create out there without the feelings of it being self-promotional, I was simply proud of Peter and believed in what we were doing.
Do you feel that your environment feeds into work and if so, what makes your work distinctively Californian?
A lot of our inspiration comes from our rural upbringing in Vermont, surrounded by natural beauty and a life that demands functionality. We wanted our work to feel timeless, yet contemporary, with the goal to seamlessly & effortlessly feel at home in an array of interior design aesthetics. We hope our work is transformed & defined by the house & home in which it resides. Be it a New England farmhouse, downtown loft or beach bungalow, we aim to be inclusive of many tastes and styles within our work, not defined or limited by one specific aesthetic. To do this, we incorporate elements of traditional farmhouse and Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetics with our forms, and play with surfaces and texture to bring a contemporary twist. Lately we’ve felt inspired by our new matte black, applying it to our farmhouse collection for a dramatic and slightly art-deco feel. California, and specifically the LA metropolitan area, has provided great inspiration for the modern twist on our ceramics.
What are your top 3 studio essentials?
1. Good music
2. Strong coffee
3. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches ( Ellen: I second that! Definitely pb&j. Without it I’m lost)