Brutal. went to meet ceramist Lisa Kosak /Helka Ceramics in her studio Studio Argile, which she shares in Berlin. Let's discover his universe through an interview.
What is your background and your training to get to ceramics?
I studied translation in Brussels before moving to Berlin where I discovered this medium and started to appreciate it. My course did not intend me to ceramics at all, I had never worked the earth before taking a course.
Are you self-taught or did you learn from someone else?
Shortly after my arrival in Berlin, I took a course in a very small workshop in the back room of a wine merchant. Once I learned the basics, I continued to learn on my own, spending hours watching online tutorials, reading manuals etc. The trick requires a lot of practice and perseverance, and things clicked over time. I progressed enormously when I started to rent a workshop for the month where I could practice whenever I wanted, and where I also met Marilyne, the partner with whom I manage my current workshop, Studio Argile. We regularly invite European ceramists who work with different techniques and these meetings are extremely enriching for our own practices as well.
Do you remember your first play?
Very well, it sits on a shelf in my living room and allows me to realize the path traveled since (aha). It is a small cup made on the wheel. She is very heavy, all crooked, but I love her with all my heart.
How would you define your job?
The pieces I create are mainly functional pieces intended to accompany everyday life. My forms are refined and the colors organic.
What is your creative and manufacturing process?
It all depends on their purpose. It may sound narcissistic, but I try to only create pieces that I would like to use at home for my own collection. I also work with chefs and, in this case, we collaborate on the pieces in order to arrive at a result that meets their needs while corresponding to my aesthetic.
What is your favorite technique? Your favorite moment in the process?
I started working with the lathe, a technique that I really appreciate, but I've been moving away from it more and more lately to work with the plate or the coil. I particularly like the less polished aspect and the unique character of the pieces that come out of it. Turning, my favorite moment in the process is turning. I don't know of such satisfaction as that of having a piece with the perfect “leather texture” and seeing the ribbons of earth leave the piece to reveal its final silhouette.
What is your favorite material? What do you like about him?
I mainly work with non-chamotted, slightly gray white sandstone. The main reason is that I mainly make functional parts and the material is more resistant to wear. I generally leave the exterior of my pieces unglazed, or covered with a very thin layer of matt transparent enamel, in order to retain the raw aspect and the haptic dimension of the earth.
What inspires you apart from ceramics?
It's a bit off-the-cuff answer, but I would say art in general (and in situ installations more specifically), nature and my encounters. Everything around me more generally informs my designs in one way or another.
Can you tell us about one or more books on ceramics or something else?
For ceramics, I had found the manual "The Potter's Craft" by CF Binns very instructive when I started. I also really like “Urban Potters, Makers in the City” by Katie Treggiden and “Clay, Contemporary Ceramic Artisans” by Amber Creswell Bell for their beautiful images and artist portraits. As for books that don't deal with ceramics, I recently bought myself "An Illustrated Guide to Japanes Traditional Architecture and Everyday Things" which I love to leaf through, and I still like to immerse myself in the fascinating "Brilliant Green » by Stefano Mancuso and Alessandra Viola who talks about the intelligence of plants.
What are your last significant trips or your travel desires?
I'm supposed to go to Japan next October for a ceramics residency. The country has always attracted me enormously, and this, even more so since I started ceramics. I'm burning with impatience...