The clay vessels of Eshelman Pottery order and dignify human life. Clarity is given to simple forms by contrasting glazed and unglazed surfaces. Pure clean glazes render elegant presentation of food and drink. Paul’s developing artistic interests were directed along practical lines as he grew up in Iowa.
He received a B.A. in art from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington and an M.F.A. in ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. Laurel received a B.S. in biology from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.
Since 1988 Paul and Laurel have been living and making pottery in Elizabeth, a small farming community in northwestern Illinois. They have three children who all worked in the pottery during their years at home.
Paul says, “My work time is split roughly into two-thirds making, glazing and firing pottery, and one-third traveling to and doing art shows, packing wholesale and retail orders, photographing the work, and doing repair work and other odd jobs that occur in my eighty-year-old brick studio building.”
The clay body is a red stoneware; the glazes are all lead free. The wares may be safely used in the microwave and dishwasher as well as the conventional oven if the oven is not preheated. Casseroles may be used in a preheated oven. The pieces should provide many years of service.
Paul Eshelman’s aesthetic perspective has been influenced by Japanese and Chinese crafts, the simple utilitarian objects of the American Shakers, and contemporary architecture. He also derives inspiration from the everyday forms of his Iowan upbringing and begins the artistic process with drawings of his Midwest surroundings — rural sheds, storage bins, roof angles, plumbing pieces, and boats. He employs these drawings and paper models to help him think through a piece and then carves the desired form in plaster. He uses these smoothly polished molds to create stylish clay vessels and platters.
Paul’s elegant, functional pieces, designed for daily use, are composed of red stoneware which has been fired to vitrificaion, yielding a tough, nonporous surface. His glazes are lead free and his wares may be safely used in the microwave, dishwasher and the conventional oven if the oven is not preheated.