When the world was dark, I wanted to create something beautiful...
I created Pottery by Eleni, as a product of transition and transformation. Having decided to take a step back from my career after 13 years as a noted Costume Designer in Los Angeles, I decided to relocate and return to my hometown of Seattle, wanting to be connected once more to my family and the nature of the Pacific Northwest. Incidentally, this move occurred just weeks before the start of the 2020 pandemic which created a pause in the entertainment industry. It was this pause in combination with a poorly timed immobilizing injury that put me in the position where there was nothing left to do, but design and create.
In the darkest moments of life, my instinct was to create something beautiful; I longed for a glimmer of shine in a murky, uncertain fog. I turned to pottery; my first art form taught to me by my mother, my first and constant teacher. My last purchase before stores went into lockdown: a small 2 gram bottle of 22k gold luster. Unsure what to expect and hoping $50 wasn’t an absurd amount to pay for a bottle that didn’t even measure over an inch, I carefully brushed it on the edges of a little plate I’d made. When I opened the kiln and saw how this blood red glaze turned to bright gold (a moment that still brings me to awe), my hope returned. In these dark days, I could take mud and turn it into shiny china pieces that glisten with gold. My first collection reflects this very hope. I create luxury homeware pieces that are clean, white, and shine with real gold. I focus on entertainment-ware as it was the images of people laughing, gathering, and clinking cups (perhaps even little porcelain ones!) that fueled me to continue despite feeling isolated.
I named the resulting company Pottery by Eleni (pronounced Eh-leh-knee). The name “Eleni” sprawls through four generations of women in my family, including my great grandmother, who survived the Great Depression, and my mother, who put clay in my hands before I could even speak. These intelligent, determined, generous women, along with so many others, served as a reminder for me to keep going. In Greek, “Eleni” means “light” and it’s reminiscent of the sparkle and gold that refueled my hope. With Pottery by Eleni, I work to share this hope and light.
Each piece in the Pottery by Eleni line is named after the amazing women in my life as my thank you for their inspiration. The pieces, such as The Elaine Mug, The Tierney Rae Painter's Palette, and The Peggy Bowl not only are beautiful and functional pieces, but they also honor my loved ones which is something that I hope customers will connect to. I imagine these homewares being enjoyed for decades and passed down as timeless additions to holiday tables. When customers bring Pottery by Eleni into their homes, I want them to revel in the luxury materials and rustic, elegant design.
I strive to use locally sourced clays and glazes, appreciating that not only is it eco-friendly, but it also makes my work, and therefore myself, connected to the Pacific Northwest. For me, that is part of the magic of the medium. Currently, I design in porcelain utilizing both wheel throwing and slab construction. My work is refined while celebrating and honoring the irregularities of the handmade process. And my favorite and final touch is adding that hand painted rim with the same 22k gold luster that first illuminated my dark garage.
I was fortunate enough to find quick success upon releasing a series of art tools such as ceramic palettes. To create for other artists is something that makes me feel deeply privileged and I'm honored to have these items be my best sellers. With this, my partner decided to leave his job and become a potter too, making Pottery by Eleni a family run business. Together this has become a dream job and career for both of us and we are full of hope as we continue to grow the business and release new collections.
My upcoming collection explores oyster and mussel shapes inspired by the romantic and visceral connection I feel with an area called Penn Cove. This gorgeous representation of the Pacific Northwest is located just off Seattle on an island called Whidbey which happens to be where I married my partner, Daniel. Filled with its lush forests pulsing with life and vibrant sea creatures galore, Penn Cove is nothing short of breathtaking. For me, this new collection symbolizes finally feeling at home again in Washington, connecting not only to the nature around me, but a reconnection to myself. I keep with the theme of luxury while exploring more organic shapes and utilizing a dreamy opalescent overglaze. Being inspired once again by the beauty of the natural environment I grew up with feels nothing short of serendipitous.