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Interiors

Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics

by Annie Werbler

The studio of Brooklyn-based ceramicist Helen Levi is perched above, of all things, a mouse trap factory. When a certain machine in the Sunset Park warehouse is switched on downstairs, a consistent melodic thumping sound can be heard throughout the building. Visitors joke about her neighbors playing house music, “when, really, it’s the glue traps,” she quips. With the help of designers Chen and Kai (and her dog Billy), Levi set up this 250-square-foot workspace a year and a half ago in a carved-out corner of the markers’ larger studio. Levi worked in a communal space before arriving at this location, and she desperately needed to spread out. She aimed to create as much storage as possible without feeling cluttered, and she lines the vertical height of the room with tall shelving units to get the most out of each wall. The huge industrial windows maintain a bright, open quality even as the metal racks reach capacity.

Despite its small square-footage relative to the amount of production it puts out, Levi is happy with her studio as it is today, though she anticipates a time when continuing to grow her business will require more. Until that day comes, Levi loves having a workroom that belongs only to her, where she can leave a mess if she doesn’t feel like cleaning up (which she admits is often). She also appreciates the ample sunlight, even if a mostly-glass facade offers minimal insulation from extreme hot or cold temperatures. Not even the mouse trap soundtrack below can harsh this vibe. —Annie

Photography by Helen Levi, except where noted

Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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Work in various stages of completion at the ceramics studio of Helen Levi.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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Logo fridge magnets in process to be included with webshop orders. On the shelves, some similar designs to Levi's pieces featured in 10 Handmade Mugs for Summer.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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Tools on a worktable and splatters on the wall from decorating the Artist's Series pieces, an example of which sits to the right.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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Kilns with a party pineapple that Levi's sister brought back from southeast Asia as a good firing omen.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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In theory, this section of shelving beside the studio door is where finished pieces are stored.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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Billy's hammock bed is raised up to keep him from laying in clay dust all day.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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Just above, some glazes and random studio necessities, hand lotion and a dust mask being chief among them.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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The full ten-foot span of the studio.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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Looking toward Levi's wheel.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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Pieces drying before bisque firing.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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Glazed planters waiting to be fired on top, and tumblers drying before bisque.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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A miniature packing room.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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A marbled bowl made with two stonewares, and glazed with a speckled white interior surface.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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A slab-built Ocean Platter, with a swirl of turquoise reminiscent of churning surf at the beach.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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Mini mugs sold as a set for espresso.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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Levi's Ocean Cups are also inspired by watery tones.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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Levi's two favorite bottles from a commission for artisanal whiskey company Bruichladdich, which she made with materials gathered on a road trip last summer.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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A wheelthrown mug made from three different stonewares marbled together.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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Helen Levi at the wheel. Photo by Daniel Arnold.
Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge
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"What I love about my studio is... I can be as messy as I want!!!" - Helen Levi

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