Plated — No. 5
I’m pleased to share the fifth iteration of 'PLATED,' our ongoing series where we ask creative people we admire to share what feeds them — both literally and artistically.
A potter, craftsperson and designer, Natalie Weinberger creates works in poetic tempo with the storied history of her medium. With a background in historic preservation and an affinity for decorative arts history and house museums, it’s no surprise that her one woman studio feels guided by another time while still in graceful rhythm with contemporary aesthetics.
Over a bittersweet cocktail, she talked to us about the influence of architectural ornamentation & patterns in nature in her work, and the contentment of staying the course.
WHAT HAVE YOU MADE FOR US TODAY?
I’ve made a cocktail known affectionately in my family as “the Jeffrey.” The name comes directly from my older brother, who lives in Los Angeles but visits NY frequently. Jeff is in charge of mixing cocktails at my parents’ house on the evenings when we all get together. This is a drink he started making for my mom and me — but over time it's taken on a new moniker. “I’ll have a Jeffrey!” has become a common exclamation on these reunion nights. I’ve started making these at my own place — to mark the homecoming of a friend who’s been out of town, or others who live abroad and are just passing through. The color is celebratory and a bit ridiculous, in a good way. The drink itself is bittersweet, not unlike these too-short reunions with loved ones.
HOW CAN WE MAKE THIS AT HOME?
Combine 2 parts unsweetened grapefruit juice with 2 parts tequila and 1 part campari in a cocktail shaker over ice. Add the juice of half a lime and a drop of agave. Shake vigorously and serve up in your favorite glass. Garnish.
WHAT DOES A NORMAL DAY LOOK LIKE IN YOUR WORLD?
My mornings are devoted to coffee, tending to my small garden, a little bit of exercise and staying on top of my “computer work.” I do all of my digital work in the morning and then switch into analog mode once I arrive at my workshop. Work days vary — I’m either throwing or trimming at the wheel, making molds, glazing, rolling and cutting slabs for tile, and often there’s a meeting with a client or collaborator in the mix. Maintenance takes up about 30% of my time — I wash a lot of buckets! I've had assistants in the past but have been working solo for the past 2 years and am loving it.
In the evenings I typically have dinner at home with my boyfriend, often with friends joining us. He’s a talented and intuitive cook, which I benefit hugely from. A few nights a week I’m out enjoying the city — attending openings, dinners with family, drinks with friends…every week is different. My days are very solitary and evenings tend to be very social.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO?
I’m a potter, a craftsperson, and a designer.
CAN YOU SHARE A FEW OF YOUR PROJECTS THAT BEST ARTICULATE YOUR PRACTICE?
Throwing on the wheel is how I got started with ceramics, and so it's deeply satisfying to have my debut dinnerware collection out in the world in partnership with CB2. The prototypes, which were thrown on the wheel in my studio, were used directly by the factory as models for manufacturing.
Photo by Adrianna Glaviano
Making tile is exciting because it allows me to drastically increase the scale of the things I can make in my small kiln. This coffee table was a recent collaboration with Studio Giancarlo Valle — the surface is the size of a queen bed!
Photo by Clement Pascal
Ceramicists work with glass by way of glaze, so it was a natural progression to become curious about casting glass on its own in the same kiln I use for making pottery. For a group exhibition with Jacqueline Sullivan Gallery, I made a series of glass sconces. I love the improvisational nature of making these pieces — plus each is unique, making them feel truly special.
Photo by Vlad Potop
WITH A PRACTICE THAT ENCOMPASSES BOTH FUNCTIONAL AND DECORATIVE OBJECTS, WHICH WOULD YOU SAY BETTER SPEAKS TO YOUR OVERARCHING AESTHETIC IDEOLOGY?
I don’t see them as separate entities. You can always incorporate decoration even into the most pared down, practical designs.
WHAT ARE YOU TURNING TO MOST FOR INSPIRATION LATELY, AND WHAT DO YOU TURN TO MOST CONSISTENTLY?
I’ve just moved back to Brooklyn after a few years in Manhattan, and just a few months in I'm already noticing how all of the brownstone ornamentation around me is creeping into my work. On a more intentional level, I'm always looking to decorative arts history, studio pottery past and present, and more broadly patterns and variety in nature to get new ideas. I also visit house museums with alarming frequency.
OF ALL THE SPECIAL OBJECTS IN YOUR HOME, WHAT DO YOU TREASURE MOST?
This is an obvious one: my collection of pottery made by ceramicists I admire. I collect pieces from Clair Catillaz, Matthias Kaiser, Rudolf Staffel, Masanobu Ando, and Andrew Sartorius — and I use them daily.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE IN YOUR WORLD?
More making, more traveling, more experimenting and discovery, and hopefully surprising myself in ways I can't foresee yet.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS TIME IN YOUR LIFE?
This period seems to be about simply staying the course.