By Debbie Burke
Looking for the quirky, eclectic, definitely different for your holiday gifting? The artistry of Linda Schwartz shines through with a variety of delightful themes that will meet your one-of-a-kind needs.
Linda, who is from Stroudsburg, received her BFA from the Tyler Art School and majored in printmaking. Twenty years ago, she found her preferred medium, clay. “I like the tactile feel of the material, and the physical manipulation with my hands,” Linda explained. “It’s a visceral experience for me.”
Her workspace is comprised of two separate rooms in the barn behind her home. The front room houses her “making room,” with a work table, slab roller and extruder; as well as building tools and bisque stamps she made herself. “I do not have a wheel,” she noted. “I only hand build, using a multitude of techniques; whatever the piece calls for.” The back room is where she glazes the pieces. It contains her kiln and the chemicals used to make glazes.
Some of her artwork comes under the category of Judaica, and includes “tzedakah” [“charity” in Hebrew] boxes, which is essentially a bank to put aside money for charitable causes. Linda’s most popular item in this line is the Anne Frank House Tzedakah Box, crafted in the form of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. “A person puts their change into it and when the house is full, they donate the money to a needy cause,” she explained. “Tzedakah is a very important duty of Jews.” Other pieces in the series include Passover seder and shabbot [Sabbath] plates, menorahs and mezuzah [small, long boxes containing scripture that is placed in the doorway of the home].
Of the more whimsical, one only needs to look at her Fortune Teller series. They’re as cute as they are fresh and unique. “I love carnival and circus imagery,” she said. “A couple of years ago I was in Asbury Park and there, on the boardwalk, was the famous Madam Marie’s Fortune Telling, of Springsteen fame.” From that came her fortune teller creations.
Almost everything inspires her: politics, the natural world, spirituality. But there’s no substitute for just rolling up your sleeves and creating. “As painter Chuck Close famously said, ‘Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just go into the studio and work.’”
Linda sells her Judaica line through Etsy, and exhibits the other artwork at several galleries. Her studio is open by appointment.
Pressed by hand and made with love, she puts herself into every creation. “I want the viewer to get a sense of the maker,” Linda said. “My work is consciously a little off-balance. If you want a totally perfect piece, go to Pottery Barn.”
For more information, visit her etsy shop at
www.etsy.com/shop/LindaSchwartzCeramic or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.