Whenever Leigh Forsstrom would complain about being bored during her North Carolina childhood, her mom would sweep in with a craft project—“There was a lot of Play-Doh,” Leigh laughs. It would make sense that those early clay days laid the groundwork for the fanciful, almost-biological-looking ceramics, stamped with minute patterns and, in some cases, even embedded with yarns. But the journey from one to the other wasn’t quite that simple.
After getting a BFA in textile design from RISD, Leigh did a year-long stint at a silk mill in Bangalore, India, then moved to New York to design fabrics for Martha Stewart. But, eventually, that childhood itch made another appearance. “To have to wait ‘til six o’clock to get an idea out of my head was hard for me,” she says. “I like being in charge of my own time.” She began experimenting with three-dimensional art—“I was making things out of trash”—when her now-husband gave her ceramics classes as a gift. She soon fell hard for the process, incorporating her love of textures and contrasts as she went. Her work is definitely not child’s play—but it might just fill you with childlike wonder. — Kate Welsh