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Valerie Casado

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I was born in Bordeaux on the west coast of France, and at the age of six, my parents decided to relocate to the city of Marseille in Provence. They enrolled us in a very special pilot school, which prioritized the creativity of children, supported by a multitude of creative workshops. I was eight when I discovered and fell in love with clay and the very first object I created was a sculpted hand, black on the interior and white on the exterior. It was at this same school that I discovered my love for classical music and the poetry of theatre; and despite my young years, I was certain that my life path would be allied with clay and ceramics.

Valerie Casado Work Space

The small Provençal town of Fontaine de Vaucluse has been my home for the last forty years. I briefly left my beloved Provence for eight years to experience living in Paris, where I enrolled in singing and acting lessons at the Conservatoire de Theatre. During this period I also undertook humanitarian work and traveled to India to work alongside Mother Theresa and worked in the fields doing odd jobs to help at harvest time.

As far back as I can remember, I have always created—my earliest memory is of making tiny little coffins for birds and mice. I poured an infinite amount of passion into making delicate crosses embellished with hand-formed flowers. At thirty-six years old, I enrolled in a pottery class in Pernes les Fontaines with my daughter Rose; a little over a year later I created my first collection of tableware and serve ware. My first client was the celebrated embroidery artist Edith Mezard, who placed a large order for her charming boutique Chateau de l’Ange in Lumieres. Today, my work can be found at select boutiques worldwide, including ABC Home.

Creativity for me is an artful way of living that accompanies me every day.

At the beginning, my art studio was like most creative beginners I imagine—I took over a spare room in my home. As my craft grew I sought out a larger, dedicated creative space. Having grown up in the village, word of mouth helped me to find a very beautiful and poetic space, which was loaned to me by an old friend of the family. It was a very simple structure, the ancient village washhouse on the riverbanks of the Sorgue river. I would turn and mold my ceramics and then place them to dry on the ancient wooden shelves. Once my pieces were dried and sanded I would have to gingerly transport them up to the village of Chateuxvieux to be fired, which made the whole creative process very laborious, to say the least. So out of necessity, I was forced to leave behind this inspirational space for a more practical modern workshop in Isle Sur La Sorgue, otherwise known as the “Venice of Provence.”

Valerie Casado Clay Plates

On my fortieth birthday, I met the man who would become my husband; we moved in together and created our lives in a wonderful ancient troglodyte stone house. Two years later we decided to buy this house and make it our home. The restoration work lasted nearly a year and a half. We dreamed of creating a haven, somewhere that made you feel like you are permanently on holiday; where friends would come to visit and never want to leave. We renovated and filled our home with noble materials such as cedar parquet and lime-wash on the walls. Inspiration and ideas flow through me as much in how I live day-to-day and in how I create and decorate my home as they do in my studio. Today when I create, many people identify my creative signature before even knowing it is my work. My work is naturally evolving and changing but I do see a common thread that connects my work over the years. My first creations were related to the fragility of childhood, with a fairy-like dream nature. Over time, my experience and my research have guided me towards simplicity; my color palette echoes the colors in nature, and I am drawn to creating pure, raw shapes. I create following my instinct and intuition and allow my hands to guide me through the artistic creation of each piece.

My studio is truly a reflection of my work—simple and raw, made using recuperated planks of wood and nails, tables found at the flea market, a multitude of small tools, baskets of 100-year-old handmade lace and unusual found objects. My most treasured object in my atelier is my stamp which has my initials “V.C.” My mother came across it in a village garage sale and I now use it to sign all my creations. I am most proud of an exhibit that I created for an art gallery in Beaulieu sur Mer which celebrated Native American art. I feel that is a truly complete body of work and it pushed me to work with and combine many different and complex materials such as leather, wood, clay and textiles.

As soon as I feel inspired or a new idea forming, I immediately reach for my little sketchpad, which I keep in my handbag at all times. My pencil then translates the shapes that form in my mind onto the soft vellum paper. I love working in porcelain and tinting this beautiful velvety soft material with pigment. I always reach for porcelain to create my more delicate decorative pieces. When I’m in my atelier I draw my inspiration from nature. I start to imagine a fragile and delicately formed leaf; I’ll take a ball of my inky black clay and roll it out on my worktable. I knead it until I give it the perfect texture. I’ve been collecting antique lace for many years and have four trunks under my worktable filled with my favorite pieces. So once my clay is ready, I’ll select a piece of lace and layer until I’m happy with the patterns. I then take my rolling pin and impress the layered lace into the clay. Once I’m happy with the effect, I form the clay around a mold to create a plate or bowl according to the collection.

Valerie Casado Clay Tools

He who is able to feel passion can inspire others to be passionate too.
— Marcel Pagnol

I then like to tear at the edges to create a more organic, imperfect shape, stretching the corners of the clay to aerate the contours. Once I’ve finished working on a piece, I will let it dry for a week. Once fully dry, I sand my finished piece to ensure it is soft to the touch and then I fire it for ten hours at 1100 ° C.

Valerie Casado Clay Bowls

After this initial firing, I plunge the creation into a white enamel milk, and I rework the texture so that the transparency of the enamel reveals the filigree of the clay. The work is once again fired for ten hours at the same high temperature. There are always surprises when you open the clay kiln at the end of this lengthy process and I’ve learned to embrace the imperfections, which can also be beautiful!

I was born in Bordeaux on the west coast of France, and at the age of six, my parents decided to relocate to the city of Marseille in Provence. They enrolled us in a very special pilot school, which prioritized the creativity of children, supported by a multitude of creative workshops. I was eight when I discovered and fell in love with clay and the very first object I created was a sculpted hand, black on the interior and white on the exterior. It was at this same school that I discovered my love for classical music and the poetry of theatre; and despite my young years, I was certain that my life path would be allied with clay and ceramics.

Valerie Casado Work Space

The small Provençal town of Fontaine de Vaucluse has been my home for the last forty years. I briefly left my beloved Provence for eight years to experience living in Paris, where I enrolled in singing and acting lessons at the Conservatoire de Theatre. During this period I also undertook humanitarian work and traveled to India to work alongside Mother Theresa and worked in the fields doing odd jobs to help at harvest time.

As far back as I can remember, I have always created—my earliest memory is of making tiny little coffins for birds and mice. I poured an infinite amount of passion into making delicate crosses embellished with hand-formed flowers. At thirty-six years old, I enrolled in a pottery class in Pernes les Fontaines with my daughter Rose; a little over a year later I created my first collection of tableware and serve ware. My first client was the celebrated embroidery artist Edith Mezard, who placed a large order for her charming boutique Chateau de l’Ange in Lumieres. Today, my work can be found at select boutiques worldwide, including ABC Home.

Creativity for me is an artful way of living that accompanies me every day.

At the beginning, my art studio was like most creative beginners I imagine—I took over a spare room in my home. As my craft grew I sought out a larger, dedicated creative space. Having grown up in the village, word of mouth helped me to find a very beautiful and poetic space, which was loaned to me by an old friend of the family. It was a very simple structure, the ancient village washhouse on the riverbanks of the Sorgue river. I would turn and mold my ceramics and then place them to dry on the ancient wooden shelves. Once my pieces were dried and sanded I would have to gingerly transport them up to the village of Chateuxvieux to be fired, which made the whole creative process very laborious, to say the least. So out of necessity, I was forced to leave behind this inspirational space for a more practical modern workshop in Isle Sur La Sorgue, otherwise known as the “Venice of Provence.”

Valerie Casado Clay Plates

On my fortieth birthday, I met the man who would become my husband; we moved in together and created our lives in a wonderful ancient troglodyte stone house. Two years later we decided to buy this house and make it our home. The restoration work lasted nearly a year and a half. We dreamed of creating a haven, somewhere that made you feel like you are permanently on holiday; where friends would come to visit and never want to leave. We renovated and filled our home with noble materials such as cedar parquet and lime-wash on the walls. Inspiration and ideas flow through me as much in how I live day-to-day and in how I create and decorate my home as they do in my studio. Today when I create, many people identify my creative signature before even knowing it is my work. My work is naturally evolving and changing but I do see a common thread that connects my work over the years. My first creations were related to the fragility of childhood, with a fairy-like dream nature. Over time, my experience and my research have guided me towards simplicity; my color palette echoes the colors in nature, and I am drawn to creating pure, raw shapes. I create following my instinct and intuition and allow my hands to guide me through the artistic creation of each piece.

My studio is truly a reflection of my work—simple and raw, made using recuperated planks of wood and nails, tables found at the flea market, a multitude of small tools, baskets of 100-year-old handmade lace and unusual found objects. My most treasured object in my atelier is my stamp which has my initials “V.C.” My mother came across it in a village garage sale and I now use it to sign all my creations. I am most proud of an exhibit that I created for an art gallery in Beaulieu sur Mer which celebrated Native American art. I feel that is a truly complete body of work and it pushed me to work with and combine many different and complex materials such as leather, wood, clay and textiles.

As soon as I feel inspired or a new idea forming, I immediately reach for my little sketchpad, which I keep in my handbag at all times. My pencil then translates the shapes that form in my mind onto the soft vellum paper. I love working in porcelain and tinting this beautiful velvety soft material with pigment. I always reach for porcelain to create my more delicate decorative pieces. When I’m in my atelier I draw my inspiration from nature. I start to imagine a fragile and delicately formed leaf; I’ll take a ball of my inky black clay and roll it out on my worktable. I knead it until I give it the perfect texture. I’ve been collecting antique lace for many years and have four trunks under my worktable filled with my favorite pieces. So once my clay is ready, I’ll select a piece of lace and layer until I’m happy with the patterns. I then take my rolling pin and impress the layered lace into the clay. Once I’m happy with the effect, I form the clay around a mold to create a plate or bowl according to the collection.

Valerie Casado Clay Tools

He who is able to feel passion can inspire others to be passionate too.
— Marcel Pagnol

I then like to tear at the edges to create a more organic, imperfect shape, stretching the corners of the clay to aerate the contours. Once I’ve finished working on a piece, I will let it dry for a week. Once fully dry, I sand my finished piece to ensure it is soft to the touch and then I fire it for ten hours at 1100 ° C.

Valerie Casado Clay Bowls

After this initial firing, I plunge the creation into a white enamel milk, and I rework the texture so that the transparency of the enamel reveals the filigree of the clay. The work is once again fired for ten hours at the same high temperature. There are always surprises when you open the clay kiln at the end of this lengthy process and I’ve learned to embrace the imperfections, which can also be beautiful!