Elizabeth Paxson is the creatrix and proprietress of Skybirdarts on Etsy (and Skybirdarts on Instagram). I met her because she is the most fabulous mama of my most DARLINGEST friend Caitlyn Paxson, one of my favorite writers/first readers in the world.
(If you haven’t subscribed to Caitlyn’s Book and Bramble newsletter, which includes book news, wreaths of the month, goat pictures, cat pictures, shots of Prince Edward Island at its glorious best, and, well, AWESOME STUFF, I’m just saying: GET THEE TO THE BOOK AND BRAMBLERY!)
I’ve always loved Liz’s ceramics, but a few years ago, she stepped away from the form and took her famous “squid mugs” with her. This year, happily, she’s having her own private renaissance. You can bet I leapt right on her pile of prodigious output like a dragon at a gold rush! I want all of us to happily reap the results of her genius. They are SO BEAUTIFUL!
For your great happiness, I present to you a MINI-INTERVIEW with the artist Elizabeth Paxson!
CSEC: What drew you to ceramics in the first place? What’s your origin story?
EP: I studied ceramics in high school at Interlochen Arts Academy, graduating in 1969. I didn’t return to clay (after a lot of painting, collage and mixed media work,) until 2006, opening my Etsy shop in 2007.
It was all when Magill Foote wanted a squid octopus mug, and posted it. Suddenly there was an instant demand. 😳 So the shop was off and running!
(INTERVIEWER’S NOTE: I, too, love Magill Foote! He once helped me research old cinema for a book I was writing–The Twice-Drowned Saint! What a guy–helping artists the world over be EVEN MORE AWESOME! All while being awesome himself!)
CSEC: Liz, you took a hiatus from pottery and sculpting for a while. What made you return?
EP: When we moved north in 2014, I sold all my ceramics equipment and sort of regretted it, especially during the pandemic. So I decided to Carpe Diem before decrepitude overcomes me, and invested in new equipment, reopening Skybirdarts.etsy.com!
CSEC: What do you find most fascinating about the process right now?
EP: I love working with clay, both because as a person who has issues with ADD and mild OCD, it is really grounding and satisfying. And it’s the EARTH, literally!
I love thinking about one of my pieces emerging from a lake bed in a thousand years, and someone wondering who made it and why. Well, I bet I’ll confuse them!
What I love most is playing with forms, colors and concepts. Clay is a friendly substance, but it also has a mind of its own. You have to learn the dance–how to let its physical qualities guide you. I see some work that looks as if it is made in a factory, and that bores me. I mean, if you like that you can go to Walmart!
CSEC: What are some of your influences?
EP: Oh! My favorite influences for ceramics are folk art, Mexican, Japanese and ancient art.
CSEC: My favorite are your MINOAN GOBLETS! I love them so much. AND NOW THEY ARE MINE!