About Belle Terre Ceramics
(Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington)
Although she knew that fine art painting was not her calling, Lauren Jawer of Belle Terre Ceramics knew early on that a paint brush would be part of her creative future. She trained to become a textile designer at Moore College of Art after getting a BA in Studio Art from Kenyon College in 1984. She became part of the famed garment district in NYC and began designing scarves for the Liz Claiborne corporation. Being part of the design process that fostered a tangible handmade product was deeply rewarding to her. But then in the early 1990’s she learned that the US had given the Republic of China the most favored Nation status and that the corporation was going to begin sending their printed scarf designs to China for production. In that moment, she witnessed the garment industry, second only to Wall Street in size, begin its dwindling. It was a life changing event for everyone in the industry that continues to unfold and an inexplicable disappointment as she watched it fade away.
In the early 2000's her family’s circumstances serendipitously claimed the opportunity to become Washington residents on San Juan Island. Here she raised children and reinvented her surface design craft into ceramics keeping to her pursuit “to stay a maker of usable and accessibly priced products which provide esthetic joy to many”. This endeavor became Belle Terre Ceramics which means beautiful earth ceramics. As a means to perfect design and production abilities she sought training. At Seattle Pottery Supply she met her ceramics mentor and collaborator of 10 years, Debra Bacianga. Debra got her degree and training in Philadelphia at the Tyler School of Art in sculpture and ceramics and has been sculpting and making intricate multi piece plaster molds for over 30 years. With her tutoring, Belle Terre Ceramics now makes plaster molds for the specific use of creating editions of unique pieces. Together they design from drawings, create clay prototypes and use plaster mold making techniques to create beautiful pieces. Debra is dedicated to keeping the craft of mold making alive and continues to teach the process from her Seattle Studio.
For the past 15 years, the inspiration of Belle Terre Ceramics has been uniquely tied to the natural resources particularly specific to Washington State — the robust sea life and the Lavender fields. What excites her most about being an artist in Washington is how Washingtonians fiercely lend support and appreciation to their local businesses as much as they seem to love the land and sea around them. The devotion to that which is from here — whether it be through thunderous cheering at sporting events, consistent patronage of favorite coffee shops, or the continual flow of visits to Mt Rainier, the San Juan Islands, or the love of Orcas — is what sets Washington apart from other states. According to Jawer, living and working as an artist here has been nothing short of a breath of fresh air.