Meet An Extraordinary Artist and Neighbor

| November 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

As long as I have lived in Mission Hills, over 30-plus years, I am often amazed by the talented artists who share our community.  And, it pleases me when I get to learn their journeys to become professionally established and highly regarded by their peers, and those who purchase their work.

Recently I was introduced to Jeffrey Siegel, who has lived in various houses in Mission Hills since 1989.  His current home is also where he has his studio.  Siegel shared with me that he got introduced to clay and ceramics when he was 16 years old.  He took a course in high school and immediately realized his passion for working with clay.  He refers to it as a “sensual” experience.

Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles and became an instructor at the Clay House Studio and Gallery in Santa Monica.  This was in his early 20s. 

He admits that though he preferred being an artist full time, he elected to also have a day career in finance.  Seigel recognizes that having this ability to “make a living” allowed him to truly enjoy the art of clay and ceramics.  Being a “starving artist” has its setbacks and can affect the creative energy that he enjoys.

Siegel also shared with me that when he and his wife, Laura, moved to San Diego, he focused on his career and raising his three children. 

It was after his children were grown that he elected to reconnect with his love for ceramic art.  Over the last five years he has worked at the junior colleges, instructing on ceramic art.  And, now, he is focused on creating ceramic art to share with others. 

Siegel’s finished products are a reflection of his connection with nature.  His desired art form is working with white porcelain clay, and incorporating horsehair, which is applied in a raku firing process.  He informed me that he has been able to “break through artistic barriers” by getting in to the kiln to add the horsehair.   The clay maintains a heat level that allows him to integrate the horsehair, without breaking the mold.

According to Siegel, he starts with a bowl of clay. And, as he manipulates the clay, it “speaks to him,” guiding the creative process that occurs.

“It’s like a river, and can take different paths,” said Siegel.

We discussed the coloring process, what gives each piece the tones and colors.  He informed me of oxides – pure color – that he adds.  Firing them in the kiln locks in the colors.

As he reflected on his work and the pieces that mean the most to him, he shared with me about a non-glazed clay design that went through a transformation.

He told me that he went to the desert to alter this clay piece. He dug a hole; built a bonfire; wrapped the piece in aluminum foil, and placed it in the fire; added Miracle Grow and other minerals to the blazing fire.

Today that piece is in the Art Institute of Anza Borrega, and is titled “Pit Fire.”

Siegel now looks back at the path he has taken, and the decisions he has made.  Choosing to take a ceramic clay course in high school made all the difference in the world.  Now he concentrates on creating unique, art pieces that others can appreciate and enjoy in their homes and offices.

His work is on display at Kettle & Stone, located at 1128 West Lewis Street in Mission Hills.  You can also view his artwork and gallery showings by visiting www.jeffreysiegelceramics.com.

Siegel will be joining other local artists, offering his artwork for sale, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, November 28, across the street from Kettle & Stone on West Lewis Street.

Jeffrey Siegel is in his studio working on one of his recent creations.

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