Ceramic Artist Spotlight: Wil Labelle

Ceramic Artist Spotlight: Wil Labelle

Aug 18th 2016

Wil LaBelle has been a professional potter for over a decade. His functional pottery is modern and refined, featuring sgraffito carving with a noir theme. He currently lives and works in Portland, OR. You can find his work in a number of Portland venues, like StuStuStudio and Made Here PDX, and of course, at our tea shop. You can contact Wil with questions or commissions at wlabellepottery@gmail.com

I get much of my inspiration from other art mediums such as film and music. Attending a live show and witnessing another's divine genius, or honed discipline is a great honor. It typically fills me with ideas and motivation to apply them to my work. The fresh air of a natural setting and rigorous bike ride and the expansion of mind and body that brings will often bare the gift of a new idea.

Get the idea - sketch it down to paper - build it. I'm a thrower; so I'll try a few different versions of an idea and fire them all to completion. I'm also a functional potter; so, to me, that means I put to use everything I make, before it's put up for sale. If a piece doesn't quite function correctly, then it's donated and a new, improved piece replaces the old one. I usually begin to sell the second model. I'll then use customer feedback to improve upon that design. I'll sometimes improve a design years after the first one was thrown…constant use, examination, and comparison.

I use the potter's wheel and a wet clay medium to make functional pottery. I throw, alter, attach, close the form, and often carve for decoration—or sometimes draw right on the pot. I had humble beginnings as an illustrator while in college, so that need to convey a story through drawing is a reoccurring theme in my work.

I grew up on the coast of southern Maine, and have been drawing since I was a tike. There were some old detective novels in the house in which I grew up that were slightly above my reading level, at the time. I remember trying to make sense of this very adult story line and attempting to illustrate pinnacle moments in the plot. Later, I attended Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire where I nurtured drawing and painting skills, and discovered Clay and the wheel for the first time. I began working in the industry right after school: Large factories, small production houses, taught wheel throwing classes, and sold at shows whenever possible. I am currently instructing continuing adult ed wheel throwing classes at the Oregon College of Art and Craft, as well as Georgies ceramics. My work can be seen in a number of shops in Portland, and at my website.

Learn more about Wil or shop his wares at terranoir.com