Chasing the Coastline

Artist Ivy Weinglass unearths inspiration along the Pacific Coast Highway

As told to Julia Gómez Kramer


Meet Ivy

Passions can be ignited by the most unsuspecting things. For Brooklyn-based ceramicist Ivy Weinglass, her love for pottery sprouted from an aversion of failure. “For my birthday one year, my parents got me a six-week class at my local ceramics studio,” she says. “I went to my first class and quickly realized I had never been worse at anything in my entire life. Everything I made was a disaster. So, I became obsessed. I had to do it. I needed to get better.” Now, six years later, Ivy is a full-time artist selling one-of-a-kind wares, including plates, lamps, vases, and more.

Inspired by her travels, her collections depict scenes, textures, and color palates akin to nature across the country. She captures the sensory experience of the places she’s visited — the mountains, canyons, forests, and beaches — within the textures, colors, and compositions of her pieces. During a 2017 trip along the Northern California coast, she fell in love with the patterns and colors in the rocks and sand of a small beach, inspiring the start of her Range Collection.

Keep reading to uncover how Ivy’s trip to the California coast allowed her to recharge, find inspiration, and connect with the nature found in her work.

“Trips like this will just change my perspective and help spark creativity to fuel new projects or ideas. It clears my mind and reminds me that I need to get out of the studio to be better in the studio.”

Leading up to my trip to San Francisco, I was tired. I had just worked really hard in the studio for West Coast Craft, and was so ready to just be transported somewhere else, somewhere where I didn’t have to do much thinking or planning. My boyfriend came with me and we decided to go on a road trip up the coast before flying back to New York. We went from San Francisco up through Oregon, into Washington state, and then back down. We just drove up the coast roughly six or eight hours each day, stopping anytime we liked to go into little towns, check out little shops, or go on hikes. If it caught our eye, we’d stopped. No place or sight was too small.

One of the days I remember vividly. It was incredibly overcast, cool, and misty — one of those beautiful stereotypical Northern California, Pacific Northwest kind of days. I was set on finding a tide pool, so we stopped at this random beach and started on this small, woodsy trail. After walking through the trees for a bit, we stepped onto the most beautiful rocky beach. I could not believe how breathtaking it was. The waves were crashing, creating this natural harmony as the sea foam rushed up toward us. We were inhaling the crisp scent of the sea, feeling the light mist on our skin, it was a full sensory experience I’ll never forget.

When I got back to my studio in New York, I couldn’t stop thinking about the trip. I was happy to be home, but sad to be away from all of the places we experienced. Seeing the natural way that rocks and sands are formed and changed by wind, water, and all these elements that humans can’t control, I became fixated. I knew I needed to recreate it. I remember looking at the clay being like, I can paint a picture in clay, of what I saw. I didn’t need to be so sad about being back in Brooklyn. I could make something, put it on my shelf, and remember where I had been.

Luckily, clay is incredibly fun to play with. There are so many different colors — whether you’re tinting your clay or just relying on the natural hues — so I began layering different colored clays to create something that resembled a striation [grooves, created by the geographical process, found on the surfaces of rocks and minerals]. I wanted to mimic the layers of the rocks and sands I had seen on those small beaches. Next thing you know, I had started my Range Collection. It eventually evolved to include patterns from rocks in Arizona and other places out West, but that’s where it all bloomed from: a small beach in Northern California. And it’s funny, sometimes you don’t even realize what you’re inspired by. It’s not until you take a step back and really look at it that you connect those dots.

Listen to the Forest

I don’t use much glaze in my work. I use a clear glaze on the inside of things, but I keep most of my work on the outside unglazed because I want people to feel the tactile quality of clay. I think a lot about the experience someone who buys my pieces will have: I don’t want anything to feel too precious or delicate. I don’t want a vase or plate to sit unused, collecting dust. Things should be used, be held. I create functional pieces of art for people, pieces that tell the stories of my experiences, but also allow them to connect to their own experiences, too. In the early years of my work, I was a workaholic because it was all so new and exciting. I just blurred the boundaries of who I was with what I did. And sometimes you have to do that, and it feels good in the moment, but the trip helped me remember just how important rest and recharging is. You can’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself, you can’t keep pushing yourself without coming up for air, because you’ll break. You’ll burn out, psychologically and creatively.

A Guide to Northern California

Inspired by Ivy’s trip? Click through the map for places to visit on your own Northern California road trip.

Looking for more city escapes? Explore the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio of 30 extraordinary hotel brands and endless experiences.

Stinson Beach Books
3459 CA-1, Stinson Beach, CA 94970

"Your best stop for books." - Ivy Weinglass

140 Bohemian Hwy, Freestone, CA 95472

"The best pastries and bread with the greatest garden." - Ivy Weinglass

1 Miramontes Point Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this luxury stay is perfect for anyone wanting a secluded, seaside escape just 30 minutes from San Francisco.

"Go here to walk amongst giants in an amazing nature preserve." - Ivy Weinglass

Highway 1 and Goat Rock Road, Jenner CA, 95450

"For sand, birds, and a seal sighting or two." - Ivy Weinglass

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