Sivan Sternbach

Sivan sculpts ceramic balloons in all shapes and forms and uses Mayco Stroke & Coat glazes to achieve glossy, reflective surfaces. As a former pastry chef, Sivan began her ceramic career six years ago after taking a local, bi-weekly ceramic course. Since then, her installations have been featured in the Bergdorf Goodman department store window, the Israel Museum’s 50th Anniversary exhibition, and a beautiful boutique hotel in Tel Aviv.

Interview with Sivan Sternbach

Mayco: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Sivan: I am a former pastry chef with a diploma from the French Culinary Institute in New York. After owning a successful pastry shop in Tel Aviv, I needed some time off. I spent my days going to the beach every morning, reading books and breathing fresh air, happy to finally be around my kids in the afternoons. In those years where I didn’t have a day job, I took ceramic classes and joined an Israeli Art Curator who every other week took a group of us to explore the Israeli art scene. During the Ceramic course, I took a break from sculpting plates and vases and I tried to build a balloon. I made three balloons, took them home and continued making plates and mugs in class. One day, Keren, the art curator came by my house and saw the balloons. I gave her one as a gift and she hung it in her living room. Annually Keren opens her home for an art sale event. She accepted orders for about 25 balloons. Soon enough I opened my own studio, and have been working on my balloons since then… about 6 years.

Can you describe your iconic balloon work, some of the ideas behind your making process and how you came to working in this way?

My balloon collection has evolved from my classic balloons to deflated ones, Helium, Helium letters and small helium balloons in various shapes. All my sculptures start with a real balloon. I cover the balloon with ceramic and depending on the shape I continue from there to make the balloon look as realistic as possible.

What is a typical work day and how is your studio set up?

My morning starts with a workout, breakfast with a friend or two and work. I can work an hour or two a day or 7-9 hours per day, some times I also work on weekends. My studio is in a small apartment on the ground floor of a center but it is a quiet residential area. My studio is my quiet place where I can work for hours without interruption. Since most of my work is commissioned and paid for in advance, I must deliver!

What difficulties arise in both making and selling your work and how do you overcome these?

There are no difficulties in making the balloons other than the usual difficulties that every ceramic artist deals with. I use social networks, especially Instagram to introduce my work to new markets.

How do Mayco glazes fit into your work or work for you?

I pretty much worked with the clay itself without any glazes, until I discovered Stroke & Coat glazes. I used to make balloons out of gray clay and special Japanese firing techniques. Since I found Mayco glazes and tried them they were a perfect match for my art.

What has been the most influential and career changing experiences you have had? What about these experiences was so important?

In 2013 an art curator from the extremely prestigious Israel Museum offered me to participate in an exhibition celebrating the museums 50th birthday. May 2015 was the opening of this beautiful exhibition and my installation was the one that opened the exhibition. This summer I collaborated with David Hoey the head designer of the windows of Bergdorf Goodman. All the five windows of the department store facing 5th Avenue were decorated with my balloon installations. Both these opportunities were and are extremely important for me. Knowing that I can produce alone so many balloons in top quality in a given time and also knowing that I am on the right path and my work is valued.

When you’re not making or promoting your work, what do you do for fun?

Lucky me, my work is my hobby and vice versa. I enjoy working on my art, traveling the world and tasting it with all my senses. I would love to continue building balloons and selling my work worldwide and helping in making the world a little bit happier one balloon at a time.