Friday, January 4, 2008

seaurchin ... England

Artist: Lisa Stevens
Business: seaurchin or c-urchin
Web sites:,,
Location: Bristol, England

What do you create?
I create unusual, experimental ceramic pieces, often with the inclusion of glass. Mostly these take the form of ceramic pendants, but my true love is the larger sculptures.

Where and when do you do your creative work?
Erm... mostly on my sofa, in front of the telly in the evening! One day I will have a proper workshop! My kiln is in the garage, but I do also attend a weekly ceramics evening class... at the moment I am learning to throw.

Do you have another "day job"?
Well, I'm a Mum. I have a three-year-old son. So technically I did not leave my day job to follow my art, but to have a baby! Before that I was one of the senior sculptors at Aardman Animations in Bristol, making plasticene puppets for animated films and series, such as Creature Comforts, Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit – The Curse of the Wererabbit. If you're looking for credits though... I'm credited with my maiden name, Lisa Newport.

Where and what did you study?
I studied in the seaside town of Worthing on the south coast. I did a Theatre Design HND (shorter and less academic/more practical than a degree). I specialised in costume design and construction, but I also loved making the scale models of the sets and characters.

Where do you find inspiration?
My main inspiration is the clay itself! I love the way you can do practically anything with it. I love the chemical reactions between the glass and glaze and love experimenting! Texture wise... I take inspiration from sea creatures, geology, pollen and honeycombs amongst others. I love the graphic illustrations of Earnst Haeckle.

What motivates you?
Making things is as much a need as exercise and eating fruit... I feel ill if I don't make anything for a while!

When did you start doing this?
I started my ceramics course about six years ago, but it took a couple of years to find my style.

Do you remember getting into art as a kid?
I always did it! Apparently my Mum was told by the nursery teacher, when I was three, that I was going to be an artist! I guess it always gave me a sense of satisfaction.

When and why did you decide to start your own business?
I have been on Etsy for nearly a year now. I had sold a few pieces before at craft fairs before that, but basically Etsy gave me the opportunity to sell and therefore develop my work. It was, and still is, a way to make some money without having to leave my son in full time child care. The hours at Aardman were long... I went back for a short contract, but it nearly killed me!

How did you choose the name for your business?
The spherical sculptures I was making look like sea urchins... must make some more of those!

What do you love most about creating your work?
It's always different....I'm often surprised when I open the kiln... it's like alchemy!

What's the most fascinating place you've been?
I love the eroded coastline of the Big Sur in California... ooh, and the Underground Gardens in Fresno... and Yosemite! (That was a great holiday!)

A book you love:
His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.

What is the most interesting thing about you?
Working at Aardman on feature films.

What achievement are you most proud of?
Working on Wallace and Gromit – Curse of the Wererabbit

What advice would you give women starting their own business?
Do something you love.

What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
There aren't enough hours in the day... or evening.

What do you love to do in your free time?
Other than ceramics? I love walking, especially in woods.

What are you working on right now?
Another batch of pendants, some custom orders, and I hope to make some more sculptural pieces soon.

What do you hope to achieve next?
I intend to open another Etsy shop for handmade supplies. I'd like to exhibit my sculptures in a Gallery.