Lancaster residents Cliff and Holly Lee, take their art to Craft in America


Lancaster residents Cliff and Holly Lee, take their art to “Craft in America”
By Julia Hatmaker
October 17, 2011

Lancaster residents are taking their art to television in the latest episode of “Craft in America” on WITF-TV.

Cliff and Holly Lee live and breathe art, be it ceramics or jewelry. The two are part of “Craft in America,” a special on artistic families.

Both began their artistic journeys unexpectedly. Cliff was a successful neurosurgeon when he felt the pull of art. Giving in, he has devoted his life to creating beautiful porcelain vessels, which combine traditional techniques from his native China with modern scientific methods used to re-create long-lost glazes.

His vessels are intricate and delicate. Sometimes they are adorned with carvings of dragonflies or lotus flowers, other times they are silky smooth. His glazes have eye-popping colors and rich textures. Each shape guides the eye so what was intended to be a simple glance ends up being a longing look.

Holly was going to school for painting when she discovered a love of the arts through Chinese brush painting. She had an aha! moment when she walked into a jewelry studio, and she has been working with metal to make the adornments ever since.

Her jewelry is made from silver and 18-karat gold, predominantly; occasionally a stone is introduced. Everything she does is hand-fabricated, which means each and every piece involves hours if not days or weeks of labor. Each piece is textured and unique, calling to mind themes of nature and the Orient.

The couple’s sons, however, have entered into distinctly inartistic fields: One is in information technology and the other an engineer.

“I think they are nerds,” Cliff joked.

Both sons were interviewed privately for the show. Finding out what they said is something that the Lees are looking forward to.

“It’s going to be as much a mystery to us as to what each other said,” Holly said.

The whole experience has seemed unreal to the Lees, who got a taste of what it must be like to be a movie star. Even though the show is based in reality, there was still take after take made.

“Now I have some understanding of why movie stars get paid so well,” Cliff said. “That’s hard work!”

The hardest part was when the camera crews instructed the Lees to be casual.

“They filmed us walking down the street,” Holly said. “That simple action took a long time to film.” That little walk was one of the shots that required multiple takes.

Still, the experience is one that the couple would not change for the world.

“I feel very honored,” Cliff said about being chosen to appear on the show. He added with a chuckle, “I hope I look good.”

When’s it on? 10 p.m., WITF