collage of 3 images including different ceramic vases at Sheldon Ceramics studio

Founded and run by ceramicist Peter Sheldon, Sheldon Ceramics is a ceramics studio in downtown Los Angeles just off the LA River. We look toward our environs of dilapidated industry, appearing in an ongoing state of transformation by the forces of weather and age, as a site of inspiration not unlike the geological forces that, over millions of years, developed the raw materials we use in our pottery. In this industrial chaos, we find moments of stillness to articulate form. Pottery is a process by which various types of earth come under fire to create objects of beauty. Each day we choose to render our pieces by hand on a wheel, animating clay as we draw out our shapes in space.

river with water and ceramic bowl showing comparison of the two objects

For thousands of years, humans have related to land and to one another through the production and use of pottery. Before globalized trade connected disparate regions, artisans in different corners of the world were making similarly shaped vessels. The original meme, the same ideas in clay traveled around the globe seemingly beyond the human capacity to take them there. Our process attempts to approach this idea of universality in clay, while also drawing inspiration from specific places and periods of time. You can see the influence of Japanese refinement in our flared bowls, Southeast Asian utilitarianism in our colanders, European decor in our creamers and pitchers, and Mexican tactility in our Terra Cotta vases. With reverence and respect for those who have come before us, our study of these ceramic traditions is ongoing. 

Ceramic vases placed in urban backdrops

Unlike many studios that purchase pre-mixed glaze materials, we formulate our glazes by hand, exhaustively measuring out discrete ingredients to the gram in multifarious combinations until we achieve just the color we’ve imagined. A glaze only reveals its behavior and properties once its been transformed by heat in the kiln, so this can mean firing upwards of fifty tiles over the course of weeks or months. We revel in our alchemical attentiveness to process and consider ourselves perpetual students of our materials. The reward of this patient game of trial and error is one of technical dexterity, with which we hope comes an expanded capacity for expression. As a group, our glazes reflect a palette that references the organic, serene, and simple. Our colors tend to draw in light rather than reflect it and are crafted such that, as our pottery ages, it does so with timeless grace, since it is designed to last a lifetime.

a Pottery wheel in a dark lit black and white photo