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Cecile Lee-Gelb a self-taught ceramic artist was born and raised on the Island of Jamaica where nature and its natural beauty became her main influence. Even though Cecile had no formal training she, the daughter of an artist, found her own way and the best medium for her gift. Her great passion and love for the natural beauty of her island home, her blessed hands and keen eyes are able to transform a lump of clay into things of beauty. Whether it is the vibrant colors of the beautiful island flowers mounted on a piece of driftwood or a piece depicting sea life, her creations are all free-formed so no two will ever be the same. Cecile lives in S.W. Florida with her husband, Doug, and their two dogs Rascal and Bandit. Her home studio is where she works on her creations.
She spends time in the out islands of The Bahamas every year not only for relaxation and inspiration but to collect the drift wood for her work and to spend time researching the sea life she recreates in her pieces
The process of transforming a lump of clay into a beautiful work of art is quite involved. Cecile starts by free forming each flower petal individually; the pistil is next, then the process of putting the pieces to form the flower. It often takes anywhere between 1.5 – 2 hours to put a flower together as there are no molds involved in the process. The leaves and ladybugs are next; these too are individually
made without molds.
What follows is the drying stage which usually takes about a week, weather permitting. Once the clay is dry enough (green ware) it is put into a ceramic kiln set at Cone 04 or 1940 degrees Fahrenheit for its first firing, which makes the clay bisque. This firing takes approximately 24 hours. The second firing which is a Cone 5 - Cone 6 or 2185 – 2232 degrees Fahrenheit brings the clay to its maturity. This process takes approximately 24 hours from loading and starting the kiln to opening and emptying after the firing. Next is the painting of the flower, leaves and ladybug. Colors are layered on in a process called dry brushing which takes 5-6 hours approximately. A sealer is then applied to the ceramic components as well as the prepared driftwood. Cecile then puts her composition together.
“Each flower tells me which piece of driftwood it wants to be on” is how she explains how she puts
her composition together.
Scenes from the Artist's Studio
Artists at Work in the Heart of Matlacha
"Each flower tells me which piece of driftwood
it wants to be on."