Wares With Whimsy: Lyndsie Harris talks creating character and color in clay.

ALL SMILES Lyndsie Harris is as bubbly and vibrant as her ceramics, which are food safe and designed for daily use.

By Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer | Photos by Viktor Budnik

“Anything silly and colorful with a retro twist” is ceramicist Lyndsie Harris’s jam. This talented potter specializes in whimsical teapots, bowls, cups and other items that look like works of art straight out of Wonderland or perhaps a pop art museum…but are, in fact, meant to be used. Yes, you can eat and drink from nearly all of Harris’s wares, clean them with the help of an automatic dishwasher and even safely heat them up in the microwave. The only thing you can’t do is find anything else like a Harris piece: Each one-of-a-kind object is thrown, formed and glazed by hand before being fired in the artist’s home studio in Ojai. The artist hopes her pieces are used, and often, while bringing a bit of color and delight into everyday life.

Harris recently spoke with Ventana Monthly about her journey into ceramics, spending hours at the wheel, an appreciation for all things fun and wacky, and more.

Are you from Ventura County originally?
I’m originally from the small town of Apple Valley located in the California Mojave Desert. My partner, Kyle, is from Santa Clarita, where I also lived for a couple of years before we both made the move to Ojai in 2020. I managed a large ceramic studio in Santa Clarita that sadly closed due to COVID and we realized we no longer had anything tying us to that area. Kyle landed a job in Ojai, we moved a couple months later and didn’t look back! I have found so much community and support in both Ojai and Ventura. It really feels special, I can’t picture us anywhere else now.

Was art something you were interested in from a young age?
I’ve always been an artist, I’ve loved to create for as long as I can remember. Whether it be dance, music, drawing, painting or cutting up my clothes, glueing random things together, I’ve always been in the middle of some idea or project. I also played with clay here and there but didn’t really get going until I got a job at a pottery painting studio in my early 20s, and then another job at an actual ceramics studio where I taught classes for years.

I say I’m a self taught ceramicist, because I technically didn’t go to art school, but I learned so much from the community of artists at that studio. I wanted so badly to be good at it. I would come to practice the wheel before my shifts, after my shifts, on my days off.

What I love about clay is that the possibilities are endless. You can be very much a beginner and still make a beautiful piece and it just gets better the more you do it. I’ve been in the game a while now and if 24-year-old Lyndsie could see what 29-year-old Lyndsie is making now, I think she’d be pretty impressed!

When did you open your studio?
After working in many different community studios for years, I decided that I really needed my own space if I wanted to take my work to the next level. We built my little studio in 2022. It’s in our backyard under oak trees. Having my own space really was a game changer. I feel so lucky to have that space every day that I’m in it. It inspires me endlessly.

I notice that many of your works appear to be functional — teapots, planters, platters and bowls. Are they in fact food safe?
I fire to a mid-fire cone 5/6 [approximately 2,100-2,300 degrees Fahrenheit] and use all food-safe glazes. All the functional ware I make is suitable for everyday use, can be put in the dishwasher and even the microwave!

PLAY TIME Lyndsie Harris’s sense of fun and color imbue all of her ceramics with a delightful whimsicality.

Do you have other purely sculptural pieces that you make?
I do not! I do make decorative pieces like framed mirrors and large vases, but even those are technically functional.

Your designs are all so colorful and whimsical! Where do you get your inspiration?
I pull a lot of inspiration from my childhood and my parents’ generation (1980s-1990s). I love the bright in-your-face colors and patterns of the ’80s. I’m also a big fan of Memphis style [characterized by bright colors, strong patterns and geometric shapes] which I think pops up in my work a lot. I’m also inspired by cartoons and animation from the 1990s. I love hand-drawn backgrounds; fun, wacky characters — anything silly and colorful with a retro twist really gives me a special kind of feeling that I love to put into my own work.

Where do you source your materials?
I source my clay from Laguna Clay and my brush-on glazes from Amaco and Coyote.

Tea, anyone? Harris’s tea sets are among her best sellers.

How long will it take you to make one of your more creative teapots? Those look time consuming!
Every piece is unique when it comes to timing. It really depends on the shape, size, detail and what mood I’m in that day. I’d say a proper tea set could take me a full day to throw and attach parts. The glazing could take anywhere from two to four hours.

Do you showcase your work in any local galleries or shops?
I sell my work at Shop Summer Camp in Ojai. They’ve been huge supporters of mine since I first moved to Ojai and I’ve been selling my work in their shop for four years now. I’m also going to start selling some pieces with Findings Market in Ventura soon!

Do you have a website where people can purchase your work?
I do not have a website currently, but I do sales through my Instagram @lyndslynds_ from time to time.

BLANK CANVAS Unglazed clay waiting for the artist’s magic touch.

Do you do custom designs?
I’m not currently taking custom orders but I have worked with local businesses Pinhole Coffee and Pinyon [a restaurant in Ojai] on logo cups!

What are your favorite works, and what made those pieces so special?
My favorite piece I’ve ever made is my checkered rainbow and cow print tea set. I think it perfectly encapsulates me and my style. It was bittersweet to sell it!

Where do you see your work going in the next few years? How about longer term, 10-15 years down the road?
I would love to move into the finer art space. It’s been a big goal of mine for a long time. Larger vases, framed mirrors, wall hangings, etc. I would love to take the style I’ve mastered on a cup and blow it up on a bigger scale.

Memphis style with its bright colors and bold patterns shows up in much of Harris’s work.

What other artists and ceramicists do you admire?
Some of my favorite visual artists and ceramicists are Sally Cruikshank, Laurel Burch, Nathalie Pasquier, Keith Haring, Mary Blair, Happy Hour Ceramics, Fanny Penny, Ren Ceramics, my sister Lauren Davis, my mom Marilyn Judd and my husband Kyle Harris.

Anything new and exciting on the horizon for Lyndsie Harris?
New and exciting things? Everyday is new and exciting! I’m currently working on glazing my biggest piece yet, a vase. No pressure!

Lyndsie Harris

Find Lyndsie Harris designs at:
Shop Summer Camp
1020 West Ojai Avenue, Ojai