Cary Artist: Susan Luster


Cary, NC — Last week, I met Susan Luster, a Cary ceramic artist who makes clay tiles with real plant impressions. She took me on a tour of her studio and even showed me a demonstration.

Cary Artist Susan Luster

Susan Luster loves pottery. She has always collected it, and, in her twenties, she first learned how to work with clay. It was more than 20 years after her career promoting solar energy and renewables, though, that she found her real calling as a ceramic artist.

Today, out of her Cary home, Susan makes beautiful clay tiles imprinted with real leaves and plants that come from the garden in her front yard.

“I just went out this morning and cut some ferns from my backyard,” Susan told me. “I love trying to figure out the composition of the plants and how they will look on the tiles.”

Susan never uses fake plants–instead, she’ll pick leaves from Japanese Maples in her yard. She’s always on the lookout for other plants while she’s out, too. “I found these on a tree near my husband’s office,” she said as she held up a leaf. She even collects items from the beach while on vacation and uses them in a series of beach tiles.


Susan’s Technique

Susan kindly showed me a demonstration of how she makes her signature pieces.

I got to watch her use a rolling pin to imprint a leaf design on a flat slab of clay.



Cute, tiny spores were left in the clay once Susan removed the plant. After the piece dries, Susan will paint over the impression with a copper carbonate mixture she makes herself.

All the pieces get fired in Susan’s kiln.


Susan’s husband, Mike, also contributes his touch to Susan’s art. As a successful woodworker, he is able to create attractive wooden platforms and frames on which her pieces can rest.

It’s a very peaceful hobby. People really like [my art] because it’s different. I’m really aiming to have a unique product. I know some other people who use real leaves for art, but almost nobody is doing what I’m doing.

See Susan’s Work

You can see more of Susan’s work by visiting her webpage or by stopping by the Cary Gallery of Artists in Downtown Cary, where her work permanently resides.

Tomorrow, or on Friday, June 26, 2015, Susan’s work will be featured in a new Asian-inspired art show at the gallery. Susan’s ceramic pieces will be combined with the work of brush artist Elda Hiser and jeweler Monica Hunter for one unique gallery and reception. Details are below.

Asian Essence Art Show – Opening Reception
Friday, June 26, 2015; 6-9 pm
Cary Gallery of Artists in Ashworth Village, Downtown Cary

This show will feature the work of Susan Luster and other Cary artists, all inspired by Asian art and culture. The show runs through July 28, 2015.


Story and photos by Jessica Patrick. Read about more Cary artists.


Arts coverage on CaryCitizen is sponsored in part by Elegant Stitches in Waverly Place.