At Paiko, we have the pleasure of housing many of our succulents, air plants, and tropical flowers in elegantly understated, hand-crafted vessels by local artist Tricia Beaman. I met with her recently at her home on a quiet, tree lined street near Diamond Head for a chat about her craft, Paiko, and Kaka’ako.
How did you get started creating pottery?
I started in 2009, my neighbor asked me if I wanted to take a clay class at Hawaii Potter’s Guild. The Guild is like this cooperative studio, it’s been around since the 60s and Yvonne, my neighbor, when she was a little kid, her friend’s mom used to take her there to glaze pieces and that it’s this awesome place under the freeway and there’s this big garden, and she said “Do you want to try and take a class?”. Clay has always been interesting to me, I’ve always been creative, and really interested in things that are functional, and art that’s functional, so you know, I thought I’d just try it out and see what it’s like. I kinda got hooked right away, so I just started making bowls, learning about the process of clay, firing, glazing and throwing pieces, and I’ve been at Hawaii Potter’s Guild since then. So it was kinda accidental. I had always enjoyed working on different projects, and fixing things up, and so this was a very accidental foray into a new art form.
I’ve been experimenting very slowly with hand building; I’ve just made some shapes to put together a wind chime, (laughing) which I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. I really just find the process of working on the wheel to be very meditative, and relaxing, and also just fun. I’m definitely interested in just making functional pieces. I think the wheel kind of lends itself to that more.
Why do you think your pieces work so well with Paiko’s shop?
When I saw Paiko, I was right away blown away, I love their branding, and the shop inside is very clean, and simple, and organically modern, I guess you would say. That’s totally the aesthetic I’m going for. So I think I just saw their shop and was “oh this is beautiful and it looks really cool” and I had been experimenting more with making different kinds of planters, so it seemed like it would fit. Definitely Tamara’s aesthetic, the way she arranges flowers, and the way they’ve been putting plants into my pieces, lets the work speak for itself.
You recently got started in clay, do you work in other mediums?
Yeah, I’ve done projects around the house, like sewing, and refinishing furniture, but I’m definitely not like a formal art student or anything like that. Everything I’ve found interesting has been for the home. I think everything I’ve been inspired to do creatively is because it has a need, (it is) a functional thing. I think it’s really cool that “craft” has become something that’s valid to do and it’s not seen as this really cheesy thing, you know…
There are great design blogs, and great magazines right now, that are showing that it is a craft, it’s not “crafty”, and that’s something that should be elevated, and these people should be treated as artisans.
When you are creating your pieces, what is your inspiration?
I’ve definitely taken inspiration from other potters at the studio, at Hawaii Potter’s guild, some of my instructors there that have just been doing it for so long, that I’ve learned a lot from them, and find inspiration at the studio, you know you see other people working, and (The Potter’s Guild) has this great garden, that’s a huge inspiration for me to like take a break and walk around the garden.
I think I’ve just always been interested in a really modern aestheric, like Heath Ceramics. Edith Heath was around in like the 30s and 40s, and she was one of the first modern American production potters, and actually, all of her forms are still in production today, and made in California. They have a studio and they use all her molds. We use all her plates and bowls, we got like a few place settings when I got married, and it’s all I ever use, they’re really nice, like very simple lines, so I think I’ve always been inspired by simple forms, whether it’s pottery or like furniture, I think I just have a clean, simple aesthetic.
What are your thoughts on Kaka’ako?
I think it’s really exciting to see creative people doing such interesting creative work and just to see what’s happening. I love Paiko’s aesthetic, and I love that it’s really simple and modern, and the other shops are doing really cutting edge cool things. Limb has had great shows, and that space is amazing. Ian’s a really talented furniture maker. There is affordable art work, it’s local, and that’s awesome. R/D features really interesting stuff. I think (Kaka'ako) has some of the freshest and most inspiring spaces in the city and it’s cool that they’re all coming together.
Written By: Hannah Grgich