We’re thrilled to work with Brooklyn-based artist Michele Michael of Elephant Ceramics! Michele’s beautiful blue color palette and textural forms make her handmade work instantly recognizable. Michele wished to try something new in her first attempt at designing for mass production and her collection of five vases for west elm do just that…

What inspires you?

Color, pattern, texture, travel, nature…so many things.


How would you describe your work?

Working in stoneware and porcelain, my pieces are all hand built. The shapes are organic — no two pieces are exactly alike. The texture resembles homespun fabric. I take a painterly approach to glazing my pieces by dripping, pouring and brushing, combining transparency and opaqueness. What I love most about working in clay is that the outcome of each piece is not completely predictable, sometimes resulting in wonderful surprises.


What’s your approach to decorating?

It’s quite casual and is done slowly over time. I look at it as an ongoing process. I love incorporating handmade pieces…many of our furnishings are hand built by my husband who is a woodworker, much of our artwork is made by artist friends, mixed with pieces we find in our travels. My surroundings are very important to me…beauty, comfort and function are the three things I most strive for….and as
my life changes, so does my home.

Tell us about your collection for west elm. How did it come together?

I was very happy to be asked by your creative team to create a collection. For Elephant Ceramics I mostly make plates, platters and bowls…my work is mostly horizontal, low or flat. For west elm I thought it would be great to make something I wouldn’t typically make, so I moved vertically and designed a collection of vases. I made many samples and found that it was quite challenging translating handmade to mass production!


I live part of the year in mid-coast Maine at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts. I spend a great deal of time at the beach and get much of my inspiration from the surrounding bodies of water and landscape. My work reflects my love for nature and textiles. All of this comes together in this five piece collection.

Tell us a little bit about Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts?

Watershed is a residency/retreat providing artists from all over the world with time and space to create in clay. For the past couple of years I have rented studio space there during the summer months. The studios are in a spacious old barn surrounded by forest and farmland. It’s lovely, and quiet. During my time spent there I feel I create my most interesting work.


Other than west elm, where can we find your work?

My original handmade work is sold thru my online shop Elephant Ceramics on Big Cartel.

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