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Meet Ojai, Inspired by Beatrice Wood and her California studio.

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Meet Ojai, Inspired by Beatrice Wood and her California studio.
I can't remember when I first read Beatrice Wood's biography, I shock myself, but I can tell you that her story took me on a wild journey through time and across early twentieth century America. Through New York at the height of Dada, with friends Marcel du Champ and Roche, time in the Paris theatre scene, a move to Montreal, a terrible marriage, fraught relationships, creative and financial struggles, friendships forged in art and society, the brave new world of California, the beginning of Hollywood, and finally her home in Ojai. The overarching theme is consistent: a fearless woman slowly pulling at the thread to the path of her own creative legacy.
        
 beatrice woods in studio

 

Wood came to pottery relatively late in life, after years in painting, theatre and various other creative media, but immediately felt connected to the process. She quickly became known for her experimentation and risk-taking in her glazes, leading to some incredible colors and lusters and textures.

 

woods luster vase

 

Since discovering her story maybe a decade ago, I've wanted to visit her estate, now a museum and studio in Ojai. In 2018 I held my breath as the area was threatened by wildfires, but in 2019 I was finally able to visit. Seeing her home and her studio was surreal. I stood next to her tools, read notes she'd left, saw unglazed pots still on shelves. I saw her kilns and her library, and the beautiful view of the valley that she must have admired every day with her coffee and cats.

 

  beatrice woods studio ojai

 

Before I left I purchased one of her test tiles (a bit of pottery used to sample a glaze before it gets applied to a finished piece). It was the only thing I could really afford to take home, but that little tile, seen in the bottom left of the photo, became the inspiration for this cheerful, beautiful, chartreuse glaze we call Ojai. 

 test tile portrait beatrice woods ojai

 

Want to learn more about Beatrice Wood? Here are a few links to follow:

Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts

I Shock Myself and other books

Wood remembered by Los Angeles Times 

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