Helen Levi’s ceramics are truly something to behold. The finished products are so refined, smooth and beautiful that you almost forget that a real person went through all of the steps and work to create it. Helen’s eye for detail and talented hands have crafted thousands of artisanal pieces out of clay and even beeswax. Her ability to produce so many pieces is helped by her corner-lot studio in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. Helen’s decision to move wasn’t completely out of necessity but when she came across this space for rent, she knew she had to make it happen. “When I saw the studio, and it was on a corner with so many windows, and the price per square foot was significantly less than I was paying for my last space, I knew I had to take it. I wasn’t really ready to move out of my previous studio, but I had to get ready quick!” With the help of family and friends, Helen quickly set up her new space and got it running.
Outfitted with kilns, a throwing wheel, tables for creative development and shelving, Helen has made a blank slate studio into a hardworking and inspiring space where she can create. “Function was absolutely my number one priority when setting up my studio. The kilns had to go by a window so they could be vented, but also as close to the power supply as possible, so that determined their location,” Helen explains. “Then it made the most sense to have the glazing area next to the kilns, and then I just worked backwards from there in terms of steps in the ceramics process to figure out the layout.” The natural light, painted brick walls, incredibly tall ceilings, and large, open floor plan give Helen’s studio life. Some parts about the studio won’t ever be a perfect fit for ceramics: The space doesn’t have running water so Helen has rigged a recycled water system by using pumps and buckets, and the hardwood floors make it difficult to clean up clay dust so she has put linoleum down in areas that get messiest. Even so, her beautiful studio has given Helen’s business room to grow in a city with a high demand (and price tag) for space. –Lauren
Photography by Andrea Gentl & Martin Hyers