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There Like Works of Art, and We Want it All

Written By: Cori Amendt
Photographed By: Joe Nardello Sloane Angell Handmade Pottery

Over the past century, Culver City has been home to artisans and dreamers. Midmorning, on any given day, you’ll find ceramicist Sloane Angell tucked into a workspace on a friend’s property, wielding clay. He’s not a slow riser; in fact, he’s been up for hours managing his seasonally permanent clothing line, Mercer Market. A wayfarer’s life by design, Angell’s schedule consists of traversing across a variety of passions. “Having a few different tasks is better suited for me. I’m not good at being bored. It’s nice when I reach a threshold of work in one direction, I can bookmark it, go on to something else and kind of keep the excitement up,” he said. Angell’s days most often end with a peaceful walk on LA’s many paths or preparing dinner while waiting for his wife, Ruby, to return home.

Angell encountered clay early, but it was decades before it became a part of his life’s work. His hands first made contact with the medium during high school. Unconvinced that art could sustain him, Angell attended the prestigious Tulane University to study business, minoring in fine arts as a nod to his craft. While missing home, he retreated to a pottery course where he and clay were reunited, but perhaps more as a space to house his homesickness.

After a few successful years in business, Angell switched directions and studied menswear at Parsons School of Art and Design. Conceptually, Mercer Market was in the works. Once or twice a month, as a form of meditation—more like a tangible expression of his creativity—Angell headed to a shared studio in Hell’s Kitchen near his apartment to work with clay. Always evolving, Angell later partnered up with an Australian friend and began an import company of curated Australian clothing and home goods. Through this kinship, he met his now Aussie wife, who understandably couldn’t commit to New York winters. Cue Los Angeles.

After settling in LA, and when Mercer Market’s operations were under control, Angell found he had a bit of free time left in the day to do with as he pleased, which ultimately led him back to ceramics. From contentious teachers to less-than-ideal studio experiences, Angell had plenty of reasons to have forgotten clay; instead, the momentum kept building until he eventually realized it could not only be a hobby, but also a thriving livelihood. After briefly studying under Los Angeles potter Mirena Kim, and an esteemed apprenticeship with Japanese potter Akio Nukaga, he claimed his own style and Sloane Angell Studio was born.

Originally, Angell worked from a place of functionality, wanting to create stoneware, which was needed but also infused with beauty. Over time, his pieces evolved into more sculptural works with function being an afterthought. Each piece is one of a kind, as he prefers them that way. Much of his work is commissioned by interior designers to create unique pieces, which are one-offs for the client. This way, they are able to be involved in the process, as he keeps their vision in mind while the piece comes to life. In fact, though he’s certainly done mass production projects, such as creating the tableware for Gjelina’s new Japanese-concept restaurant MTN, he finds that during this replication he’ll need to “make something without thought,” as he describes, to keep his creative thirst satiated.

Angell approaches his pottery as he would a fashion garment. Beginning with mood boards and sketches, considering color, or lack of, and shape. When satisfied with his preparation, he makes a few prototypes to find the silhouette he desires and the process to achieve it. The process from concept to bone dry is a lengthy one. “A ceramic piece has a truly long life,” Angell explained. His hands are his most used tools, but water, earth and fire are each needed in balance for a finished piece.

When asked about a project he hasn’t done but thought about, Angell becomes quiet. “It’s kind of an odd project because it would bring a lot of sadness, but I want to make an urn. I like knowing that unless my ceramics are broken they’ll long outlive me…creating the home for someone’s remains is kind of putting your faith in the artist to make something that will last an eternity, or at least in their mind,” he said. “It’s not something I’m looking for, but it’s one thing I’ve thought about as the ultimate nod of respect if someone asked me to do that.” Sloane Angell Handmade Pottery

Big Moves: What Angell lovely refers to as his ‘gorilla clay studio,’ is likely to expand soon. Look out for his upcoming projects yet to be unveiled! Sloane Angell Handmade Pottery

Inspiration Fuel: Angell loves Blue Bottle Coffee to get him energy for long days in the studio. He is also a huge fan of Leo’s Tacos Truck—their tacos el pastor is his favorite. Sloane Angell Handmade Pottery