From designing buildings to bowls, making functional and aesthetic objects makes sense for ceramicist Lynda Ladwig. Ceramics closely mirror her earlier work as an architectural designer. After taking only two ceramics classes in the mid-‘90s, Ladwig combined her knowledge of construction and design with her innate creativity to make the beautiful ceramics she has become known for. Since 2008, Ladwig has worked full time hand-crafting her unique pieces, which have been shown everywhere from the Cherry Creek Arts Festival to the Smithsonian Craft Show.
How is making ceramics similar to being an architectural designer?
The design process is really similar, especially because I hand-build my ceramics. I see the ceramics I make in the same way I’d see a building. I’m using composition—heavy versus light, little versus big, the articulation of texture and color, and negative and positive space. If I had chosen a different medium, I would still be a designer.
Step by step, how do you turn clay into a ceramic piece?
I start by scribbling ideas on paper. Then I roll out the slab of clay, cut out paper templates that guide how I cut the clay, and then shape the clay pieces together. After the clay is leather hard, I make it all smooth and add decoration to it. The raw clay ceramics get bisque fired at a little over 1,800 degrees. After they’re glazed, they get fired again at 2,200 degrees. My hands-on time from start to finish is probably an hour to an hour and a half.
Describe some of your recent projects.
I buy vintage, mid-century trays off of eBay and Etsy and re-finish them. I’ll take the tray and make a dish that you’d use for olives or a spread; each one is one-of-a-kind, because each tray is different. Those are really fun; I usually have two or three in each show. I had one called “Circles,” a tray set that was all circles. They made me think of water, so I made a tiny bowl in the middle with a clear, aqua blue glaze.
Where do you show your work?
I’ve been doing the show circuit for about 10 years. In April, I did the American Craft Council Show in St. Paul, Minn., and I was at the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C.—the quality of the work there is just phenomenal. I go to Kansas City in September and a Philadelphia museum show in November. This year was my 10th at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival. I also have my work in several galleries.