Carole Neilson fell in love with clay while studying sculpture in Europe in the early 90’s. She has found a deep connection with the entire process - from running her fingers along the wet clay turning on the wheel to mixing her own natural glazes.
Carole studied ceramics at the Academy of Art in Mol, Belgium. She feels fortunate to now be able to work in her home studio in San Francisco. “Although I have traveled to many places, I now make my home in San Francisco and my turning wheel stays near me as my constant friend,” states Carole.
Her designs are heavily influenced by her French ancestry with shapes and patterns similar to those from Alsace, a region rich in pottery tradition, such as the cobalt blue insignias used on her jars and pitchers. These vessels were used to preserve contents such as milk, water, and salts before the advent of refrigeration to keep contents cool or dry.
The glazes used on the pottery are custom-made by Carole. She prefers to use natural elements such as powders sourced from the famous ochre quarries and red cliffs of Roussillon in France. Once these powders are mixed with water and clay they achieve the same beautiful brown, yellow, and red hues the French village has become known for.
And because each piece is hand sculpted and painted, even matching sets will have slight irregularities. “One of the things I love about handmade ceramics is that each piece is special and unique. I have found that people generally appreciate a one-of-a-kind piece instead of opting for mass produced items that are exactly alike and have no soul,” Carole says.
The journey with clay is an ever changing one. As Carole says, “I am still always experimenting with new techniques, new glazes, new ideas and forms. My passion with clay has opened up limitless possibilities inside my imagination.”