INSIDE & OUT : Out of Africa

African culture, its symbolism and its diversity come to life in the ceramics and furnishings created by artist Steve Hazard for his African Graffiti collection.

Using the images, tribal symbols and textual patterns of the African, Caribbean and African American cultures, Hazard dresses his vases ($250 and up), platters ($150 and up) and ceramic-topped tables ($600 and up).

Before moving into ceramics and furnishings, Hazard adorned jewelry and clothing with his bold, rich colors and textures. A shirt from his collection was presented to South African President Nelson R. Mandela during his visit to the United States in October. The clothing has also been worn by actor Will Smith on the weekly television series "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air."

Most of the patterns and colors he uses in his ceramics and furnishings are typical of those found in West Africa.

"West African art is the most common and familiar to people in this country," said Hazard, of Solana Beach, who began his line in 1990. "I wanted to play on the traditional design, patterns and colors. Contemporary African design just isn't out there in the mainstream."

Hazard, a native of Worcester, Mass., was a graphic artist in the Air Force. He studied visual arts and design at Becker Junior College in Worcester, the University of Chicago, the University of Maryland and El Camino College in Torrance, but he is self-taught in ceramics.

He also credits his wife, Twyla Stewart Hazard, an educator with the University of California system, with showing him the way.

"With her educational background, she helped me form and shape the sense of history and iconography that is reflected in my work," Hazard said.

The African Graffiti collection is available by calling Hazard at (619) 792-6738.

Reptilian Touch

First, there was the land shark. Now there's the lawn croc.

Made of hand-cast bronze by Stephen Maxon and Doris Park for the Mendocino-based Wind & Weather catalogue, this family of crocodiles can bring to your lawn a bit of whimsy, or, if you prefer, terror to scare off the neighbors.

There's the baby gator ($200 plus shipping), 20 inches long. And then there's the standard croc ($550 plus shipping), 3 1/2 feet long.

And for those who want even more gator, there's big daddy ($1,250 plus shipping), which stretches a full seven feet.

"The crocs can be put in any shape you desire--they're hollow inside--and they will last forever," said Marcie Schorg, spokeswoman for Wind & Weather.

The crocodiles are numbered and signed by Maxon, a painter turned sculptor, and Park, an animal lover who is self-taught in metal casting.

For information or to order, call (800) 922-9463.

On Paper

Papermaking, the current hot hobby for the home, has been made easier with kits, such as Paper Anew, that include everything you need to make single sheets and raised designs.

Paper Anew's basic equipment--moulds and deckles and casting molds--can be reused, and the instructions are simple enough that even all-thumbs beginners will feel like experts.

For those who want to get fancy, there's Chasley's Bag O' Stuff--dried herbs, shredded junk mail, etc.--ingredients that can be added to your pulp for texture, color and scent.

In Orange County, Paper Anew ($25) and Bag O' Stuff ($7.50), which are distributed by Seattle-based Chasley Inc., are available at The Art Store, 4040 Campus Drive, Newport Beach, and Kid's Court, 26736 Portola Parkway, Foothill Ranch.

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