Makers Series | Pigeon Toe Ceramics
Lisa Jones has always been an artist. But she recalls the day she was explaining her idea to become a product designer, to design ceramic home goods, to her boyfriend. She said didn't have a name for it, but he mentioned how funny it was that she always went pigeon-toed when she was talking about something she was excited about. And thus, Pigeon Toe Ceramics was born.
Lisa started the company in 2009, with an intent to hand make products that would add beauty, lightness, and a little quirkiness to people's homes. She's done just that, and has created quite a name for the company she runs with the help of her sister, Sam, and a team of powerhouse women.
Pigeon Toe Ceramics is a perfect embodiment of the #MadeRightHere ethos. This Portland, OR, studio designs and produces ceramic pieces that are both utilitarian and very intentionally designed. Some pieces are quirky, some are simple, and, perhaps most importantly, they're all carefully made by human hands in each step of the process.
To the Made Right, Here philosophy, similar to California Olive Ranch, it's been a priority of the company since the beginning to always be able to offer their pieces at an accessible price. When their demand began to outpace their production ability on the wheel, they switched to slip casting, a form of ceramics that uses a liquid form of clay, the slip.
The slip is mixed, poured into plaster casts, and sits for a prescribed amount of time depending on the desired thickness of the piece. After that amount of time has passed, maybe 20 minutes, the plaster will have absorbed some of the liquid from the slip touching the mold, and an outer layer will firm. Then the remaining slip is poured out, the piece is removed from the mold, and is set aside to dry. It's sanded, fired, glazed, fired again, and shipped out.
Step into Lisa's office and you'll find the many iterations of different phases of her curiosity — various explorations into making trays or brushes, all in different glazes, patterns, and colors. Her mind is always at work, and a lot of her inspiration comes from trying to find ways to creatively re-use scraps of clay that other studios might throw out.
Instead, they re-use all the clay remnants they can — Lisa came up with the idea to make these confetti-esque coasters using bits and pieces of salvaged colored clay.
Their process was mesmerizing to watch, and these ladies are a joy to talk to. How inspiring it is to be in the presence of people who are able to dedicate their days to creating pieces of art with their two hands that will be on the shelves of people all over the country.