Beatrice Wood

To say that Beatrice Wood is a woman with a past is an understatement; she is a woman with a history. Following early incarnations as a debutante, actress, and muse, she took up ceramics at the age of 40, beginning one of the greatest (and certainly the longest) love affairs of her life.

Suzanne Ramljak: It requires great discipline to work on the wheel, yet you also praise the role of the accident. How do you reconcile discipline and accident in your work?

Beatrice Wood: The area of accident is subtle. One instance: I make a pot, I put a glaze on it and I go to make a design on it, and my brush slips. Suddenly something happens. It becomes alive. 

Ramljak: Do you approach the creation of your figures and your pots differently?

Wood: On the wheel I know what I want to throw. I’m concerned with guiding the clay the way I want it to be. With the figures I have the idea of what I want to express, but I have no technique.

Ramljak: You once wrote: “There is a vibration around things made with the hands.” Is this vibration like an aura?

Wood: I am convinced there are psychic forces. You take two bowls, one mass-produced, one built from the hand, and you would probably see and feel a difference. Even where food is concerned, home-cooked things taste different than restaurant things.

Ramljak: Can you save the world through art?

Wood: To a degree, possibly, but if a human being is honest and compassionate, that is much more important than making beautiful paintings. I’ve had a very difficult life, not enough energy, at times no money, so I’ve stayed in art. But I want so to be president of the world and to change things.