Featured Member

Each month a new Featured Member is chosen from the completed member profiles on our website. Their interview and work is highlighted on our blog and social media. Visit our archive of past Featured Members.

February 2018

  • Alexis Pavlantos
  • Alexis Pavlantos
  • Alexis Pavlantos” width=
  • Alexis Pavlantos
  • Alexis Pavlantos
  • Alexis Pavlantos

Alexis Pavlantos

Oakland, Ca

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a hand/mind oriented individual with tactile tendencies to shape, form and move through ideas and material. Until recently I thought everyone had to touch all the assorted plastic pouches of beans, rice and grains at Berkley Bowl.

I consistently question my ways of intuitive navigation and stories which we choose to tell ourselves through. I have many memories of my mom, a goldsmith and gemologist, whistling, and smiling in her studio. My mom would tell me when I was in her belly I would become most alive tossing and turning to the smell of wax as she worked at her bench.

It is safe to say that it is not the wax fumes and recognizable of scent that leads me towards needing to create, but instead a deep desire to be understood and to understand concepts beyond the realms I can articulate through language at times. I was raised in the mountains of New Mexico miles away from other humans. If I wanted fun, or human interaction beyond my family, it was something I would have to create/find for myself. I began with Sculpty clay and would pass my time learning how the material reacted to my touch, how it would respond to other objects and itself. I was/am fascinated by the opportunities of materials and the relationship I began to cultivate with each one.

What is your favorite tool and why?

My favorite tool is a two-sided etching scribe for printmaking, which I use for wax and metal its point never seems to dull.

Which materials do you create with most and what is your attraction to using them?

I love the world of wax. Every wax seems to have its own personality and must be worked with in accordance to its temperament. Soft wax (microcrystalline) is my favorite because of how easy it is to manipulate. I enjoy being able to combine waxes using their chemical structure to alter their personalities giving me the perfect malleability for the task at hand. I love the indescribable amount of texture, detail, form and scale I can achieve in this medium, and of course having the ability to fabricate these components post casting.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from my inexplicable depth of feeling. From my feelings, I create material forms which resemble those found in nature. Last week I was drinking tea peering down at the well-intended inspirational quote by Van Gogh “If you truly love nature you will find beauty everywhere”. Living in a city the past 7 years surrounded by fecal matter and trash I find myself drawn towards the one poppy seed that has slipped through the concrete cracks to surprisingly survive in this concrete jungle. These instances bring me towards examining that tea quote more thoroughly. I believe nature is not something we set out to find, but is something we are a part of.

How long have you been working in metals and what brought you into this field?

Immediately after receiving my BFA in Sculpture with an emphasis in Ceramics I moved to the Bay Area. I loved clay but became disappointed after spending hours creating fine detail and intricate parts that would easily break in between firings. I worked with metal in college but it wasn’t until I finished school that I received a pile of wax as a gift, which reminded me of the materials characteristics and ability to be transformed into metal. Fabrication came thereafter as I had the desire and need to connect parts to create a whole post casting.

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in metals?

An amazing machinist, Tom Lipton, once gave me the best advice, “JUST START!” You are the only one holding yourself back. Often students will come to me frustrated at the investment you need to make towards setting up a studio, but often you only need a few tools to achieve your vision. Just starting can mean critically thinking through your ideas. Often times you will find if you think through something you might not have needed to create it.
Maquettes are also a helpful part of this process, you can save yourself time and money by making something in wax or paper to understand how it might lay, or interact with the body or space you have intended for it to live in/on. Another piece of advice that my significant other reminds me of when things seem challenging is “It never gets easier, you just get better”. In this regard I find its best to be like water and learn to ebb and flow.

What has been the biggest challenge for you as a metal artist and have you overcome it, or how are you working to overcome it?

The largest obstacle for me is making things move, have the ability to open up, and close effectively. The last few years I have been working on a series of metal purses, while trying to keeping the weight of the purses light. I have struggled while trying to find the thinnest gauge of metal that I can hammer while not feeling like a kettle ball in weight once everything is assembled. Working in metal arts you continuously think through the process, especially when working with wax. I tell my students five minutes in wax is five hours in metal so it’s best to do as much finishing and incorporation into your wax patterns as possible.

Favorite resource/vendor or website you would like to share?