LAURA STINGER | PEIRONAPEIRON | West Marin
The two-story cabin that ceramicist Laura Stinger lives in is located on the edge of Lagunitas, near its intersection with Forest Knolls, high above Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, and deep within the Redwood groves.
A short but steep hike leads to Laura’s cabin. Once inside, climb up a ladder to reach the sleeping and storage lofts. Surrounded on two sides by a narrow deck, amidst boughs and branches, the cabin, which is perched on a steep hillside, feels like a treehouse. In addition to hand-built garden beds outside, Laura tends a wide variety of plants indoors. “It has deeply influenced my work,” Laura says of her verdant West Marin environment. “I’m constantly thinking about creating a home that’s really beautiful and peaceful, and evokes this slower time frame.”
“Working with something physical, that can be held and kept, is really new to me.” She likes working with clay because it’s responsive to hands, and human touch is visible in the resulting pieces.”
Laura knew she wanted to be near a city, but not in one. “I think Marin is the most beautiful place. I love the craggy trees and the marshes. It has a lot of edge landscape: urban-rural; ocean-forest; marsh-sea.” Laura’s work evokes those edges as well: nautical knots of fired clay; macramé hangers for ceramic bowls; necklaces featuring dramatic, oversized ceramic beads strung together with leather. “I like things that are both beautiful and functional, like knots,” she explains, “and I’m excited about pushing boundaries.”
Physical media is new territory for Laura, whose creative focus over the last ten years centered around performance art. “You certainly can’t sell that, and even documentation looks horrible,” says Laura. “Working with something physical, that can be held and kept, is really new to me.” She likes working with clay because it’s responsive to hands, and human touch is visible in the resulting pieces.
In 2013, Laura began taking ceramics classes at the Potters’ Studio in Berkeley, and today she makes her clay creations at Laney College and The Crucible in Oakland. “It’s both really frustrating and cool that you can’t totally control what comes out of the kiln,” she says of the process. “The heat, the chemical reactions, even other people’s pieces in a shared kiln, affect the outcome. Their glaze splatters onto your piece. Someone else’s piece shatters and breaks yours.”
Just as her home and surroundings influence her work, the character of the different clays she uses shapes Laura’s rustic, earthy pieces; each clay has a relationship with its glaze. Laura dreams of harvesting her own clay from the places and geographies that have formed her life.
One day, Laura and her partner will leave Lagunitas to move onto land they have purchased in Inverness, 15 miles west and located on the same tectonic plate—the Pacific Plate—as Point Reyes National Seashore. Within this familiar yet unique West Marin landscape, Laura will create a new home. Despite the change in locale, her art will continue to explore the interconnectedness of place, pottery, and perspective.