Pinch pots in elementary school were the beginning of a fascination with clay. Studio ceramics became the focus of Lisa DeFaccio’s 35 year artistic career. After ceramics courses in high school, she pursued Art History (ceramics emphasis) and Education Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Puget Sound and then earned a Master’s Degree. Instructors including John McCuistion, Ken Stevens and Liza Halvorsen were instrumental in establishing her early repertoire of skills and techniques. Experimenting with new ideas and collaborating with other artists has continued to fuel my passion for ceramics. Her Vashon Island studio sits atop a bluff overlooking Puget Sound. There she finds inspiration for her forms from observing waves, wind on the water, shells, driftwood and birds.
The idea behind most of DeFaccio’s work is to capture motion, life force and energy in the essentially brittle, stiff, still medium of fired clay. Organic forms have always been most compelling. Each piece is an original, one-of-a-kind creation that evolves from a damp, pliable piece of (essentially) mud into a durable work of art. The hand-built pieces are derived from variety of low and high fire clay compositions and receive an initial vitrifying firing, followed by additional glaze and luster firings. Glazes are mixed to create custom colors that further enhance the unique qualities of each form. Vases, bowls, platters, and Fleurs have found “homes” with private collectors, are in permanent exhibits and have been featured in publications including Country Living Magazine and as the cover piece for a well-known retail furniture catalog.
Interestingly, Lisa believes that there is a strong genetic component to art. Her passion rests with organic and curvilinear forms rather than the geometric, which has resulted in a unique style not typical in clay arts. Her mother was adopted, and when she met her birth family for the first time, what appeared to be one DeFaccio’s wavy, “curly” ceramic bowls was on the coffee table in her maternal grandmother’s home. Lisa eventually learned that the piece was made by her maternal aunt, whom she had never met, and yet whose work is so similar to her that she mistook it for one of her own. World-renowned wire sculptress Elizabeth Berrian is another of Lisa’s aunts, and two more are practicing artists. The first time the two met, it was discovered that both DeFaccio’s and Berrien’s work were coincidently purchased by the same collector in Hawaii.
Once a form has been created from damp clay, it is hand -smoothed while still damp and then allowed to dry completely. After additional finish work each ceramic is carefully transported to the kiln where it is fired for the first time. Firing vitrifies the clay so it is feels something like a terra cotta flower pot, although the clay is much whiter in color. At this stage the piece will still absorb moisture, so functional pieces require a glaze firing. Stains, undercoats and hand mixed glazes are applied before the second firing. Occasionally pieces receive a third or fourth luster firing to add a metallic sheen or overlay effect to the base glazes. Most recent work is made from low fire clay, meaning it is fired in the 1,600- 1900 degree range.
Timothy DeClue Designs, 1307 1st. Ave. Seattle, WA 98101
A fabulous home decor store just across the street from the Seattle Art Musuem houses a variety of Fleurs in varying sizes and colors available for purchase or to use as the basis for special order pieces.