can be expressed in many forms,” acknowledges Sheyna Lotrovsky, a ceramicist
whose career began as a hairdresser.
At a recent interview with Sheyna,
she commented fondly how “I still advise people on color and cut, which is
really hair sculpture.” Once the main hairdresser at Kibbutz Shafayim, Sheyna
now works as a full-time ceramicist, and professional advisor to the other
The transition from
hairstylist to ceramicist began about 20 years ago, when Sheyna enrolled
in a night school ceramics course. Her skill and promise were apparent almost
immediately and she got permission from the kibbutz to study in Tel Aviv.
Approximately five years later, she was given an old building on the kibbutz
to use as a studio, and permission to work as a ceramicist one day a week,
while maintaining her position in the salon five days a week. Later she earned
the chance to study ceramics two days an week, work in the salon once a week
and to spend the rest of her time in the studio. Sheyna believes that ceramics
helped her improve her hair cutting and styling ability.
“I had two mentors, Maude and Nora.
I am still inspired by them even though they passed away,” says Sheyna. “I
would work for Maude and she would help me to develop. She’d say if something
was good or bad. You need someone who will tell you if a piece is good or
not,” recalls Sheyna. “Sometimes I look at my work and try to criticize it
the way she would. Maude would always tell me not to be frightened to try
work on different styles all at once because I am not a one-type person,”
says Sheyna. Her works range from her very popular ravens, which she sells
in pairs and as larger individual birds, to free form sculpture and functional
items, such as bowls, plates, mugs and vases.
The ravens that congregate near Sheyna’s
kibbutz home inspire the bird sculptures. “I stop and look at the birds.
I’ll stare at them for ages. I observe how they walk and how they fly, and
interact,” Sheyna stated. No two birds are alike as each one is handmade.
The glazes and firing for the birds run the gamut. There are copper and iron
salt birds that yield a natural look — to glazes put into a metal drum kiln,
which have a burnished, shiny look.
A native of Sunderland, England, Sheyna,
a 19-year-old hairdresser, went to Kibbutz Shafayim, to study in their ulpan
(Hebrew language course) program. It was there she met her kibbutznik husband
and they chose to live.
Sheyna teaches and shares her knowledge,
materials and experience with kibbutz children beginning at the age of twelve.
Together, they make pots that are used and sold in the kibbutz plant nursery.
ceramics for sale at her studio reveal a ceramicist whose own personal taste,
mood and feelings are expressed in her pieces. There is a wide range of pieces,
styles and colors and textures, which welcome a person into the studio as
if they are being welcomed into a home. “I think people can find their style
and what they like, they are comfortable with my work,” commented Sheyna.
“I like to change all the time. With
change comes growth.” Today, Sheyna is working on free-flowing, re-shaped
pots. The pots, jugs, pitchers and mugs, do not have any straight lines.
Even the bases are not your standard fare.
The work required to create this new
series can be frustrating, with each piece often requiring two full days
of work, until it is both stable and solid, yet fluid and smooth. Once the
container shape is perfected, the glazing and firing process begins. Sheyna
uses glazes that change color on the re-shaped pots. The glaze on the salmon
color clay works in such a way that specific placement within the kiln, as
well the glaze applications add to the beauty of the finished product.
The artist also makes products to
order. She is currently working on a set of wall sconces. Ready-made items
range from 20-300 NIS, with the birds priced from 60 to 150 NIS. Since she
is a kibbutz member, all of the proceeds from sales go directly to the kibbutz
in keeping with the by-laws of the communal living community.
Text by M. Kaplan-Green.