“Three winters ago, I kept hearing a great horned owl in the early morning hours,” says West Virginia potter Lisa Kovatch. “Up to that point I had been working strictly with a white-bodied clay with patterned surfaces reminiscent of indigenous textiles. I bought a bag of red earthenware clay and created my first piece featuring my version of that owl.
“Soon after, I learned that West Virginia lies below an important avian migration route,” she continues, “and I signed up for an Audubon class to learn more about birding. That experience changed my life. I now incorporate birds into my surface designs and donate 1 percent of my sales to Audubon.”
Kovatch’s engaging earthenware pottery and tiles combine her love of birds with the inspiration she finds in the glowing natural beauty of West Virginia’s landscape. Colors such as the “chartreuse green of a lichen-covered rock or the purple of asters among autumn goldenrod” are hallmarks of her art. After 11 years in Harpers Ferry, she feels “happily rooted,” and often finds motivation during her daily walks before getting down to work in her studio.
“At heart, I’m a practical person,” she reflects, “so I enjoy making simple forms that function well.” Add in a large helping of talent, imagination and a sense of whimsy, and the appeal of Kovatch’s work is apparent.
All of her pots are wheel thrown or slab constructed (using plaster slump molds created from layers of Masonite) and then decorated with her original designs. Plaster molds are also used to embellish the undersides of slab pieces and the handles attached to serving pieces.
Lisa Kovatch’s pottery and tiles debut at the January 2015 American Made Show in Washington, D.C. It’s an important milestone for the artist: “I’m very excited about entering the wholesale market and partnering with others to sell my work.”