by Kristin Arzt

Alexis Pavlantos started teaching Youth classes at The Crucible five years ago, mastering the delicate balance of safety and fun when it comes to kids handling molten metal in Jewelry and Foundry youth classes. Her own jewelry and sculptural work is inspired by creatures with as many legs from four to one thousand and objects in their natural raw state.  

We are so excited to have Alexis vending at GIFTY 2017, our Annual Craft Fair and Open House, for the fourth year in a row. We sat down with Alexis in her West Oakland studio to discuss her roots at The Crucible, the source of inspiration for her work, and what she is most looking forward to at GIFTY this year. Alexis’ booth at GIFTY is in the coziest part of The Crucible, so be sure to stop by and say hello this weekend!

What inspires you about The Crucible?

The Crucible is like an open door. There are so many resources and everyone is willing to help out and give you so much knowledge. It creates the ultimate work zone. The community is very nurturing and willing to help. They take the time to commit to showing you something so that you know how to do it right. It’s the gift of knowledge that keeps giving.

What inspires your work?

I was raised far away from everyone else in Tijeras, New Mexico. Growing up was a lot of making my own fun, which was either sculpting in clay or going out into the pond and looking at natural creatures around me.

I like to sculpt creatures – anything with legs and intense detail that I can analyze and pick apart, spending time to sculpt and manipulate the surface. It is also a reflection of me – the creatures always have a story that goes with them, which mostly comes from childhood memories.

One particular memory comes to mind. When I was in preschool, this little girl made me a sand pie and I was so excited to have made a new friend. There was a roly poly in the pie, and when she gave it to me she told me the roly poly would suck my blood. She yelled, “Eat this pie!” and threw it in my face! I remember crying and having to get my eyes washed out. The roly poly stuck because I just wanted the roly poly shell to shelter myself.

Through my work, I honor a lot of creatures with shells because they can easily hide, whereas humans don’t have that opportunity. You can’t escape fully from it. You have to face it.

What is your favorite part about GIFTY?

I love my booth. It is right by the glass blowing furnace, so I have fond memories of looking over to see people huddled together and bundled up by the warmth of the furnace and kiln. Everyone is sipping hot chocolate, and it is just the ultimate endearing experience of being warm and cozy. It is a dark spot but it has so much glow and warmth to it.

I also like to save specific work to unveil at the GIFTY event. I have been working on a special creature box, which is extra special because I only make one a year. I will also have a new jewelry line which I’ll be launching at GIFTY.

What is your favorite material to work with?

I’m a big wax nerd. It’s one of those materials that you can run with and get so creative with because there are so many applications for it. Wax is the perfect material for me because I work with fine detail and add, subtract, and create these forms that I couldn’t make in any other material.

Is there a single word you would use to describe the Crucible?

If I were to choose a single word to describe The Crucible, it would be patina. The more people that interact with a patina the more it starts to shine. That is The Crucible community.

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