This month we have talked a lot about the beautiful Sonoma Concrete Furniture we carry. We’re obsessed with the unique beauty of each piece and are constantly amazed by the leaf imprints that are in so many of these concrete pieces. We wanted to learn more about the process and were lucky enough to speak with the artist herself. Pamela from Sonomoa Concrete Furniture is our featured artist this month and we couldn’t be more excited. We found out she is a plant fanatic and actually picks the leaves for the imprints from her own garden!
How long have you been making concrete furniture?
I started experimenting with plasters and concrete after I got out of graduate school in art. I took a class at the Pasadena City College on concrete, which I flunked. I found it too technical and wanted nothing to do with it, but I kept on playing with it artistically. I’ve been playing with concrete since 1984 and started our company almost ten years later in 1995. The focus on tables came from working in the catering business and always finding the tables that we had to display our foods on disappointing.
How did you get started?
After I got a hang of concrete, we started playing with the wood on our property in Sonoma county. Brad took the wood a little farther and we placed my concrete top on a wood base he had made, and I saw a table I would have liked to put my food on. The light bulb ignited! In the beginning I always asked myself “would I want to live with this table?” When catering I saw the importance of the table in many people’s lives. The table represents gathering, and it is the focal point of much human interaction. I wondered why then so many tables had so little presence.
What is your process?
Without revealing many trade secrets, I design, cast, finish and seal tables. I pick the leaves from my garden and decide how to cast with them. I use a product that reduces the amount of concrete required by around 30%, makes the table stronger, and certifies my tables as green. The tables are triple sealed, oiled, and waxed to protect the table from stains.
What is your favorite part of the process?
I’m a plant fanatic. I love growing any kind of plants, and enjoy working with them in my business. I develop a relationship with the plants and leaves while I fossilize their leaves. I never cease to marvel at how unique each leaf and table are, and I continue to be inspired.
How did you come up with the idea to imprint leaves into the concrete furniture?
I grew up in gardens. My mother had a magnificent garden. In high school, Anya Fisher, my art teacher for 4 years, taught me how to see nature, and the artistic depths of biology. In 1984, I was trying to make a fruit tree planter and I put pears in the mold where I was casting the concrete. I played with all kinds of natural elements like woodchips and hay, ricehulls, seeds and found out what and worked what didn’t. I found flatter materials worked better, and leaves are probably the flattest thing in nature there is. Leaves tell stories and they are very entertaining.
What inspires you and your work?
Being curious. My tables are all experiments. How will the table end up? I never really know.