Return to Main Guide
Lee Middleman

Artist's Work

Winter Sun Flower

    Work introduction

    I throw classic forms and use surface textures to give them energy and vitality, resulting in art that is both pleasing and alive.  I seek to create patterns and textures that emphasize the organic interplay between order and randomness as found in Nature.


    The tactile feel and visual look of surface textures are essential to my pieces.  I create textures by deeply impressing patterns into thrown cylinders.  Then, working from the inside only, I expand the cylinder to create the final form.  This technique allows the pattern to evolve as the clay twists and expands.  As the pattern adjusts to the shape and function of the vessel, it becomes reflective of Nature’s adaptation to form.  


    My glazing process enhances the natural aesthetic of the order and randomness.  Thinly glazed surfaces highlight the macropatterns and reveal the stoneware clay’s micro-texture created during the expansion process.  I often use multiple glazes to intensify the dynamic tension of the surface.


    My goal is to pursue the interplay of shape, surface texture, ordered patterns, and random effects so that work is created that intrigues the eye and demands to be touched.  Although my work is functional, it is often prized as decorative.


    Artist Biography


    Lee Middleman creates highly textured, organic surfaces on classic ceramic forms. Although functional, his work is often prized as decorative.  His work has been chosen for numerous national and international juried shows and exhibitions. 

    Lee has been recognized by many national juried competitions in the United States including “Feats of Clay,” “Strictly Functional Pottery National,” “California Clay Competition,” “Contemporary Clay Biennial,” “Clay & Glass National,” “Visions in Clay,” and “Ink & Clay.”  In 2003, he was accepted into the International Competition, World Ceramic Biennale in Icheon, Korea. Museums in China, Japan, Korea, Greece, Turkey, Slovenia, India and the United States have selected his work for their permanent collections.   He has participated in three solo exhibitions, 75 group exhibitions in the USA and 45 international group exhibitions.

    Lee has been featured in Ceramic’s Monthly as well as in twenty-four international magazines and books. Lee has been interviewed on television in the United States, China, Korea and Japan.

    He is past president of the Association of Clay and Glass Artists, a 400-member association in California.  He is a founding member and North American Chair of the International Ceramic Artists Association headquartered in Zibo, China.  Lee is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics - Geneva, Switzerland. 

    He combines his ceramic career with his strong interest in Asian cultures by accepting invitations to several artist-in-residencies or ceramic woodfire festivals in Asia each year.  In 2020, he has been invited to four international ceramic events.

    Lee Middleman graduated from Stanford University with a master’s degree and doctorate in Physics.  Before becoming a ceramic artist, he created and led teams developing innovative products for the high technology industry and medicine for 25 years.  Lee holds over thirty-nine US patents.  Currently, he works full-time in his studio in Portola Valley, California.