Ceramicist Lisa Neimeth lives in a stunning 1886 dairy farmhouse in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District – her studio’s in an old chicken coop, her showroom is a repurposed wooden cottage – it’s an unexpected urban oasis most would be content to never leave.
“We have these huge Monterey Cyprus trees in the back and there are lots of birds and urban wildlife cruising around, so it’s a very lovely pleasant place to have to be all day. But we’re fairly close to the beach, and I go every day. Being close to that whole scene is really inspirational for me.”
Lisa has been working with clay since college, spending time in New Mexico studying with Native American potters during annual retreats.
She had earned graduate degrees in social work and non-profit management, but when her children were very young, she began slowly working on sculptural pieces for galleries and private commissions, eventually making the move from the boardroom to ceramics full time.
“I love putting my head down and working and making things and using my hands and being creative. And being able to do that every day is to me, just a huge gift,” she says.
While dining at a restaurant that utilized handmade plates, Lisa realized she wanted to step away from sculptural work a bit and make functional art that people use every day.
Lisa’s gorgeous plates started making waves just as websites like Etsy, Design Sponge and Apartment Therapy were just finding their legs – her balance of folk and urban art showcased on each handmade plate resonated with people hungry for a connection with real life makers.
Her clay is sourced from Sacramento and she blends commercial glazes. “I use a lot of objects in my work to press in and those are just objects I collect from everywhere – natural objects out on the beach or in the woods and then just vintage pieces I’ve collected over the years from flea markets and while traveling.”
In addition to signing the bottom of each piece with a glaze pencil, Lisa’s incorporates another design into almost every plate or piece.
“Birds are always very inspiring to me as well. That’s something that you’ll usually find somewhere, even if it’s not a key part of the design there’s usually a tiny bird stuck in there somewhere.”
Lisa donates a percentage of annual sales to community non profits.