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Some may know her as the Bond girl in John Glen’s 1989 License to Kill, but actress Carey Lowell enjoys a quieter life these days. Living in the countryside of North Haven, New York, Lowell took advantage of quarantine to fully immerse herself in her love for ceramics.
Recently, Lowell launched her own ceramics line of porcelain vases, bowls and plates, which are showcased on her website. Splitting her time between her New York home and coastal Montecito, California, Lowell has sold her pottery at various local events but also commissioned pieces for friends and fans of her work.
“It’s a career shift,” Lowell said of her ceramics line. “It just feels like an extension of who I am already. It’s sort of an expression of creativity that I am in control of, that I can do for myself, that I’m not waiting for somebody else to hire me. It’s much nicer to be autonomous in that way.”
Lowell hit the Hollywood scene as a model in the 1980s, having been photographed by the likes of Peter Lindbergh and Bruce Weber. She then starred in films such as License to Kill, Sleepless in Seattle and Fierce Creatures, along with hit television series Law & Order. Most recently, Lowell was seen as a guest star on Blue Bloods.
What started as a casual ceramics hobby in high school art class never truly left her — Lowell signed up for classes at New York City’s Greenwich House Pottery studio over 20 years ago, and keeps going back to this day. However, it wasn’t until the pandemic that Lowell’s creative hobby evolved into something she could truly pursue.
“During quarantine, I just had the freedom to devote all my time to it, whereas before I was always sort of begrudgingly having to leave my studio and go off to some sort of social engagement or something,” Lowell said. “Now I had no reason to leave, which was thrilling. I was happy to be in [the studio]. I think my work grew as a result because it’s the kind of thing where you sort of really need to devote a lot of time to it in order for it to develop and grow. And I was able to do that.”
As for her artistic inspiration in such an isolated time, Lowell said that nature was key.
“My inspiration is definitely anything organic, anything in nature. I look out onto a big field at my house, so I’m constantly watching creatures walking past, or [seeing] all the different seasons.”
She added: “It’s odd because sometimes my things are really feminine, in a way. And I don’t really always think of myself [that way], I think of myself more as sort of a tomboy. So it’s interesting. It’s weird that it comes out in that way in my ceramics.”
Prior to participating in local sales to showcase her work, Lowell used to give away her pieces for free to friends who were interested. Now that there’s more of a demand, she’s not sure if she alone can handle it.
“I’m a little bit anxious about being overwhelmed because it’s really just me in the studio,” the actress said. “I don’t have an assistant, so I can only make so many things. As for [upcoming sales] I’ve just sort of been loading up on inventory.”
Lowell recently participated in a holiday art sale at The Church, a nonprofit arts center in Sag Harbor, New York, founded by artists Eric Fischl and April Gornik, along with a summer sale hosted by Amanda Ross in Southampton.
Despite the career shift, Lowell isn’t opposed to revisiting her acting days, confirming that she hasn’t “turned [her] back on [acting] entirely.”
“It’s just that ceramics is the path that I’m going down, and it seems to be the most supported and is the thing that I’m getting the most positive feedback on. It really makes me feel good to do it, and that people respond to it is even better,” she said.
Law & Order, in which Lowell starred as ADA Jamie Ross in seasons seven and eight, has recently confirmed the start of production on the revival of the show’s 21st season.
In addition to working as a ceramicist, Lowell is also a mom to two kids — a daughter whom she shares with actor Griffin Dunne and a son from her former marriage to Richard Gere.
For those inspired to try out pottery, Lowell says to “absolutely go for it.”
“Find your nearest ceramics class and go get your hands on some clay. Your life will never be the same,” she advised. “I would just say don’t hesitate. Just dive in because it’s incredibly rewarding. And fun!”
Lowell was recently featured in Meet My Project and Pier Paolo Pitacco’s book 1000 Vases, a European release of the best and most original ceramicists across the globe.
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