“I am a bit of an extremist,” writes Tacoma-based ceramic artist Jon Almeda on his website. After years of working as big as possible, creating oversized objects, he completely shifted gears in 2001 and turned to the world of miniatures. “The challenge and process of working in 1-inch scale really captivated me and drew me in,” he tells The Creators Project. “Working small forces me to look at things from all angles.”
Since then, he has adapted his entire studio to the new medium, customizing tools, wheel, kilns, glazes, displays, and cases. “It’s that added challenge of perfectionism and customization that intrigues me,” he says. He throws on the Curio Wheel, a functional miniature pottery wheel that he designed and built himself. “I purchase the motors, have the wheel heads machined, enclosures powder coated, but all the construction, wiring and assembly is done in house by me.”
Some of his glazes have also undergone changes in order to meet the challenges of small-scale work. Crystalline, a high fire process during which crystals grow in the glaze according to very specific firing schedules, is one of Almeda’s favorite finishes, “but the scale of the crystals was always too large,” he explains. “Through mixing and experimenting, I have found a couple of recipes that produce the proper crystal growth size.
In June of last year, Almeda uploaded his first time-lapse video to Instagram. Originally made for a class, it demonstrates the throwing process from start to finish. The video was a hit, inspiring Almeda to continue filming his nimble hands at work. “Since it was June in the Pacific Northwest, I also wanted to be outside enjoying sunsets near the water. My current studio is in my basement, so it can be hard to be down there working during the summer months. I installed a battery on my Curio Wheel and decided to head outdoors for the summer for my throwing sessions. That is where #pleinairpottery was born.
A video posted by Jon Almeda (@almedapottery) on Nov 5, 2015 at 3:45pm PST
His gorgeous outdoor videos are shot with heavenly landscapes or spinning carousels in the background. “I choose spots that have movement, whether it be waves, clouds, or even light changes, anything that conveys the passage of time.” Those shot in the studio are equally hypnotizing, with careful fingers and tools entering the frame to apply glazes and finishing touches. Almeda’s keen eye for aesthetics is evident across his Instagram feed; it comes as no surprise that he splits his time between pottery and professional photography.
A video posted by Jon Almeda (@almedapottery) on Jan 10, 2016 at 10:19am PST
Almeda is currently working on his #biggie_smalls_series, a group of videos that start off with a full-sized pot being thrown on a standard-sized wheel, then transition to the Curio wheel, where the exact same shape is thrown in miniature. “The focus of this series is purely a play on scale. I enjoy the process of making small vases and bowls that without any scale or context look exactly like their larger counterpart in detail and proportion.”
A video posted by Jon Almeda (@almedapottery) on Dec 3, 2015 at 1:56pm PST
Press play on the rest of Jon Almeda’s beautiful videos here.