Go Behind the Scenes With L.A.'s Coolest Ceramicist

Fashion, food, fine art—it all gets better with a little bit of clay.

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It's hard not to feel inspired by artist Bari Ziperstein. With her whimsical, witty designs, she's managed to make old-world fine arts fun again. And on the heels of a summer during which she collaborated with designers Clare Vivier and Rachel Comey, as well as buzzy, soon-to-open Silverlake restaurant Wolf Down, she's now poised to showcase her art at a group show slated to open next week at the L.A. gallery Hollywood Hills House.

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Here, Ziperstein gives us a tour of her East L.A. studio, explains the inspirations behind her fashion collaborations, and shares a sneak peek at what she's planning to work on next.

Finding Inspiration

Custom lady finger vases for Ziperstein's collaboration with Clare V.

"My lady finger vases came from my mom. She paints her nails every week based on the season—in the winter she'll wear black, in the summer, neons. Nails are really part of this feminine ideal for her. It's rare for me to be able to draw on the works, but I love it."

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Getting Down to Work

Ziperstein, in a glaze daze.

"I love working with common materials, like terracotta, on a large scale. You see it every day here in California. You also encounter clay every day—your toilet is made of it, your sink is made of it. We forget how clay can be transformed into so many different objects."

Collaborating With Clare V

Another of her exclusive designs for Clare V.

"Clare Vivier ordered some custom lady finger vases, egg vases in green and blue, and custom totem vases in Pepto Bismol pink, which I'm super-excited about—pink is awesome. I'm also working on polka dot jewelry boxes in the same pink. The color gives us a theme for her store."

Making Vases With Rachel Comey

The Rachel Comey collaboration was inspired by prints from her Spring/Summer 2017 collection.

"I went to Rachel's store opening to finally meet her after having emailed back-and-forth for a long time. I love her aesthetic. The vases are inspired by her textile designs. I think it's going to be an ongoing relationship."

...And You Can't Spell Restaurant Without 'Art'

"These tiles are a spin-off from my coasters, which are painted with a roller and glazed. The collaboration with Wolf Down is super-exciting to me. I love their other restaurant Forage—I eat there all the time, so it's great to work with them on their new project."

Making Time for Her Solo Projects

Ziperstein also incorporates her signature lady fingers into some of the breast plates.

"I'm so excited to be showing my breast plates at the group show, Figure as Form, at Hollywood Hills House. I was inspired by a show on Samurai armor I saw at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2014. It was such an incredible show—the detail, the handwork, the dyeing. There was no ceramic, but I was interested in how decorative these Japanese warriors' armor was, yet its function was to protect. My breast plates also relate to research I did at the Cold War Museum here, and the propaganda imagery related to protecting the feminine ideal. I'm very interested in combining a physical protection versus a mental projection through a female lens."

What's Next

Can't stop, won't stop.

"I love the challenge of working on large-scale pottery and giant planters—that would be an amazing project. On a technical level, there are a lot of difficulties—it can crack on me, dry too quickly, or won't fire evenly in the kiln—but it's really fun. Working large-scale is a definite dream for me. I'm headed in that direction with a solo show of larger, freestanding sculptures that play on the breast plates, but I'm still finishing the work and looking for a venue."

For more on Ziperstein, see bariziperstein.com. To shop her collection, see bzippyandcompany.com.

Figure as Form opens at Hollywood Hills House on August 28 and runs through October 2. For more information, contact ltd@ltslosangeles.com.

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