There is an immense amount of joy overflowing in Gina's work. From the irregularity of her bowls to the unique forms of her vases, everything is unmistakably handmade and dances with its own character.
Gina makes her pieces with personal enthusiasm, creating work that is ultimately fulfilling and exciting. It's from her own energy that each piece is molded, and it's evident they resemble their maker's spirit.
On Exploring New Forms
"Sometimes I sit down with no plan and just futz around until whatever I’m working on looks good to me. There’s a piece I just finished that started because I felt like making a tall, slender vessel that day... For pieces like this, sometimes I don’t know when they’re done! Often I will wrap them up and put them away for a couple of days, and then take another look with fresh eyes.
With the yellow vase, that was one of those pieces where I was just messing around at the studio because I didn’t feel like going home. I made three like that and when I had them all lined up, they looked like this little group of happy friends."
An Interview with Gina Zycher
I’ve loved to do arts and crafts projects and make things since I was little. I took ceramics in high school and enjoyed it, but I didn’t continue when I went to college. I dabbled in things like knitting, embroidery, and sewing, but I was always more interested in the finished product with those; I guess the process itself was never that captivating for me. At some point, I started thinking about getting back into pottery, but I didn’t follow through on that for years. Once I did, though, I was hooked! I’ll occasionally try out other things – I’ve been playing around with watercolors, indigo dyeing, and I took a woodcarving workshop that was fun, but making pottery fulfills me in a way that nothing else really does.
Your Instagram handle is @glittermountain. What was the inspiration for that name?
I had been in a long term relationship since college, and right around when I was maybe 30 or 31, we started having problems and it was becoming more and more apparent that it wasn’t working out anymore. Never having been on my own before, I was really scared but also excited about some of the changes that were ahead. So “Glitter Mountain” was this idea I had in my head for a while that I was about to embark upon this journey – like climbing a mountain – that was going to be difficult for me and that I was perhaps not wholly prepared for, but once I got to the top, everything would be sparkly and magical.
And it was. I joined Instagram a couple months after I got my own apartment and it seemed like a good handle to use. It isn’t my official business name because I’m afraid I’ll get sick of it at some point! But I still like it and I think it’s a lot more eye-catching and evocative than just my name.
When you're working on a new form, how does that process go? Where do you start? How do you know when it's "done"?
Sometimes I sit down with no plan and just futz around until whatever I’m working on looks good to me. There’s a piece I just finished that started because I felt like making a tall, slender vessel that day. So I just started coiling, and at different points I’d pause to manipulate the form a bit, and then add more coils to make it taller. I knew I wanted it to have some kind of a rim, so I made two or three options and picked the one that seemed like it fit best. For pieces like this, sometimes I don’t know when they’re done! Often I will wrap them up and put them away for a couple of days, and then take another look with fresh eyes. Sometimes I’m happy and will stop there, and other times I’ll add more details, cut the top off, alter the shape a bit, et cetera.
Other times I’ll have something very specific in my head. That’s easier in some ways and harder in others; knowing exactly what the piece should look like gives me focus and a goal to work toward, but honestly it’s not uncommon for these pieces to turn out a little (or a lot) different than how I’d pictured them. This can be frustrating, but sometimes I still end up with a piece that I really like.
Anything you want to say about your collection of pieces?
I hope this doesn’t sound corny, but everything in my collection was made with joy and enthusiasm. I made all of those pieces purely for my own fulfillment and I was genuinely excited to be making each one. After I made the Carillo bowls, I was fiddling around and kind of absent mindedly holding them rim-to-rim and it hit me, like, “Wait a minute, this would be really cool as a little storage box!” With the yellow vase, that was one of those pieces where I was just messing around at the studio because I didn’t feel like going home. I made three like that and when I had them all lined up, they looked like this little group of happy friends.
What's next for you?
I’m getting back into throwing. I started hand building because I wanted to make forms and sizes that I wasn’t capable of making on the potter’s wheel, and I fell in love with both the process and the end results. So my throwing skills never developed beyond a certain point, but I’m getting better and I’ve been loving making big serving bowls. I want to go in two directions: making more functional things like bowls and mugs – I love making things that people will use and enjoy every day – but I also want to make more oddball sculptural pieces and things that can be hung on the wall or displayed in some way as home décor.
Any last thoughts?
My friends Ana Henton and Mel Keedle have opened their own studio – Still Life Ceramics in downtown LA – and asked me to teach a class, which will start in just a couple weeks. I taught a workshop last year and it was great seeing all of the different things people came up with, so I think teaching a class consistently is going to be really fun. I feel so lucky to have discovered my love for making pottery (shout out to my fantastic teachers at Echo Ceramics!) and I’m hoping I can help spark that in others. Beyond that, having the support of people like Mel and Ana, SUPPLY UNICA and other shops I’ve worked with, and all of the folks who have bought pieces from me directly has just been incredible. It allows me to keep doing what I love, and I am tremendously grateful for that.