Art Break: Studio Snapshot with Judith Amiel-Bendheim

Mike MeyerJune 2018
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Judith Amiel-Bendheim throws beautiful pottery in her backyard studio

photo by Angelina AragonIsraeli pharmacist turned full-time ceramicist Judith Amiel-Bendheim likes to make what she calls “utilitarian pieces,” or items that have real-world uses, such as cups, mugs and plates – but, most of all, bowls. “Every time I start to do something, I find myself making a bowl,” she says. “Because I love bowls. I love them very much! I love the fact that they contain everything. They contain the food, they contain the liquid, they contain everything. So I eat from bowls every day. Even salad I eat from bowls, even pasta – everything. Somehow, I say to myself, ‘Today I’ll make a bottle,’ but I finish with a bowl.” She creates her Ceramics by Judith line (ceramicsbyjudith.com) in her outdoor home studio, set in what has to be one of Arizona’s lushest backyard gardens.

The artist keeps a bucket of water nearby for cleaning her hands and making sure the clay stays moist in the dry desert air.

Amiel-Bendheim’s throwing wheel is attached to a table and operated by a foot pedal. She does most things left-handed, but the wheel requires right-hand dexterity, something her neurologist husband says is good for her brain.

Most of Amiel-Bendheim’s pieces have designs carved on the outside, and are smooth on the inside (pictured above). “I also like to give a little surprise, so always I put something on the bottom,” she says. “Like, ‘HELLO!!’”

She uses different sponges for different parts of the process – removing water, trimming and smoothing.

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