Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 | T: lamono
Some arts complement each other, and though the materials and techniques might have nothing in common, the purpose behind them converges in a way that makes them co-dependant. An example of this is present in two forms of art that often share the same fate, pottery and gastronomy. American ceramist, Cara Janelle, demonstrates this in all of her pieces, each one carefully molded so that it can blend with the amazing dishes of her clients, some of the best chefs around the world. Just like the recipes of these cuisine geniuses, each plate, cup or bowl designed and created by Cara’s hands is unique and conveys through its colors, shapes and textures, a message tightly connected with the sound of the universe. T: Vicky Navarro
When did you discover your passion about pottery? Well, I think it has always been there, I just needed to discover a way to make it accessible. I took a hand building course with an amazing teacher while I was living in San Francisco, but it wasn’t until arriving to Barcelona when I enrolled in a throwing class in a huge studio that I realised I was at my happiest while experimenting with clay.
Which other ceramists do you identify with and which ones inspire you? In a way I identify with all of them, as we all share the same interest in learning the language of clay. I am lucky to work in a shared studio space with about 25 ceramic artists from all over the world. They inspire me every day.
The elements of nature are your inspiration and the colors you use are soft and natural. What do you think when creating your designs? I work a lot with chefs who cook with fresh local seasonal vegetables and I feel like I’m making a canvas that reflects and complements their art both in the palate of colours that I use and the organic shapes of my ceramics.
What materials do you like to work with? I’ve just recently started experimenting with porcelain. But I really enjoy working with clay that has an added texture to it. It gives a different dynamic to the simplicity of my work.
The characteristic of your work are your small imperfections, when do you decide that a piece is finished? It is hard to decide when a piece is finished. I try and keep continuity in most of the forms, but once in a while I get carried away and somehow a piece that I am working on has an unintended metamorphosis. Sometimes I end up with a very happy accident.
How long does it take to design and develop one of your pieces? This is the hardest question for me to answer, as I am continually working on several projects simultaneously, designing new pieces, and accidentally developing others in the process. Making ceramics is an inherently long process of making the pieces, slowly drying them, firing them, cooling them, glazing them, firing them a second time, and then waiting another two days for the kiln to cool down enough to open it so I often have many pieces at various stages of production at any given time and I’m always experimenting with forms, glazes and clay bodies. My designs are continually evolving.
I work a lot with chefs who cook with fresh local seasonal vegetables and I feel like I'm making a canvas that reflects and complements their art
Gastronomy is closely linked to your work. Do you like to cook? I do love to cook, I always have. In a way ceramics and cooking are very closely linked. However, the turnover time to make plates in a kiln is considerably longer than the time it takes to bake something in an oven….something I can’t seem to explain to chefs clearly enough. I was a bit oblivious to the closely linked connection between ceramics and gastronomy. But they share so many similarities, with their endless possibilities, and retired kitchen tools are indispensable in the studio. A couple of years ago I set up a table in a market here in Barcelona, and this Argentinian chef and his partner came around and went crazy for my plates. The next week they were in my studio ordering nearly 100 pieces for a tasting menu they were preparing in Norway. They barely gave me enough time to finish the project, and ended up flying me to Norway to deliver the order directly to the restaurant, and that was the moment I decided I should be working with chefs.
How come did you come to Barcelona? I came to Barcelona because my curiosity led me here. But finding ceramics made me stay.
If you had to recommend a restaurant in Barcelona, which one would it be? Well, there are so many that I love. But my current favorite is a sweet little Vietnamese place called Bao Bao that just opened up in The Gothic Quarter. I can’t seem to make through the week without stopping in once…or maybe three times. If they ever put another vegetarian option on the menu, I’ll at least take partial credit.
In which countries do your pieces have more success? I work with chefs from all over the world. Here in Spain, Israel, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Scotland, Latvia, and all over the United States. New York and San Francisco have been wonderful clients but my pieces have the most success when they are taken home to homes or restaurants and delicious meals are served upon them.
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