If you’ve opened a design magazine—or trolled Pinterest—recently, chances are you’ve seen one of Helen Levi’s gilded eye planters staring back at you. The idea for that bit of ceramic mastery didn’t start with a sketch or a mood board, turns out—it came from a kiddie class the photographer-turned-potter ran in 2013.
“I taught two little girls, and we were making this cup with a face on it. They were asking me, ‘How do you make an eye?’ So I made a whole bunch, and I stuck them on—it was just kind of a funny little piece,” she says.
Helen’s now-signature motif doesn’t just appeal to the grade-school set, though: Soon after, Helen struck up a conversation with Steven Alan at one of the designer’s pop-up shop parties. “He said, ‘Why don’t you send me some pictures of your work?’ And I thought, ‘Oh man, nothing’s going to come of this,’” she recalls. But Helen went home and forwarded him a few photos anyway, and soon she was selling her ceramics—eyeballs and all—in Steven Alan’s stores.
Since she officially went full-time (and moved to a brand new studio space in Sunset Park) in 2014, Helen has filled out her collection with pineapple-topped mugs, artfully paint-splattered pitchers, and dip-dyed jugs. But she has her sights set on something even bigger. “I am definitely going to do more sculptural stuff,” Helen says. “I want there to be more art objects in my offerings as well as functional pieces.” Clear some space on your shelves accordingly. —caitlin petreycik
BEHIND THE SCENES
This potter’s a master behind the lens, too.
Hone Your Craft Helen Levi Serves Up Pottery Tips for Total Beginners
Come on! Do it! Now’s your chance!