Richmond Studio

Studio #25

My beloved Richmond studio where I started making art for a living.

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This is where I spent many a day and night figuring out how to do this thing and make a dream a reality. I'm so grateful for my three years spent in this gracious space. I was blessed by this studio in many ways. It is perfectly suited for the needs of starting a pottery business - great lighting for photos & general happiness, concrete floors for the intentional & unintentional messes, a balance of privacy amongst community for the necessary solitude as well as needed camaraderie, and a great location that got me out of the house and a part of a budding city that is ecstatic about small local businesses.  

Studio #25 at Plant Zero will always stay close to my heart. I'm so glad and grateful for the many ups and downs spent here. And I'm looking so forward to venturing on to a home studio in Savannah. CanNOT wait to share my new studio space in GA with you all. It's the start of something I've looked forward to for some time now. Cheers to the old & new.

This slideshow below shows includes more images of my first pottery studio. I'd never shared this much of my studio before. It's grown over three years and I must say this is the tidiest it's ever been. ;) So grateful for this space. 

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Making with International Women

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Back in March, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting with a wonderful group of women who have all come to Richmond from all over the world. Many of these women have come to Richmond to support their husbands who are getting their PhD's or Masters at VCU. Many of them have doctorate or masters degrees themselves and have also found jobs in Richmond. 

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These ladies are connected through a weekly meeting organized by a couple of local Richmond women who saw a need for these international women to have more community during their time here. I recently met one of the ladies from Richmond who started the group, and she invited me to come and share about my work as a potter. 

I met with them on a Tuesday morning in March and after a discussion about what I do and how and why I make pottery, we made pinch pots together! It was fantastic. 

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And these ladies ROCKED IT. They are all so creative and as soon as I finished the demo on how to make the pots they jumped RIGHT in. No hesitation. Most of the women made multiple pots and they were all so excited about their creations. It made my day/week/month seeing these women excited about creating together with clay. Several of the women have a lot of experience baking with pastry dough, and they shared that making with the clay felt very similar to this. They all covered their pots with intricate designs and I fired and glazed them the following week. 

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I was excited to hand their finished pieces off to the lady who leads the group recently, and I hope the women love their pieces! They are beautiful. It was a really nice change of pace for me to create with a different group of people who I'd never met and most of whom are still learning English and about the American culture in Richmond. It really opened my eyes to the fact that there are so many needs in my own community that I'm not even aware of. I didn't know about these women until a couple weeks before we met, and it may sound naive, but I hadn't even thought about a group of individuals in their particular situations being in my own city before then. This experience has inspired me to not only become more involved with such outreach programs, but to also seek out needs in my community that I'm not aware of and who's needs aren't being met. I would encourage others to do the same. Getting out of your comfort zone and lending a hand can lead to great things - the power of community is a wonderful thing to experience. 

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So thankful for Ann Douglas Enghauser for connecting me with this group led by Mary Douglas Enghauser and a couple of her friends! 

Foot Washing Pitcher & Bowl

About a year ago, a friend reached out to me about making a very large and shallow bowl and matching pitcher as a surprise for her sister who was engaged and getting married later in the year. Her sister, Stephanie, wanted to have a foot washing ceremony with her husband to be, Aidan, during their wedding. It was to be their first act together as husband and wife. And my friend wanted to give them custom made vessels to use for this special moment. I was incredibly honored to be asked to help with the instruments for such a sweet and meaningful ceremony.

I felt confident about making the pitcher, because it's a form I'm very familiar with. But to be honest, I wasn't 100% sure how large I could make this type of bowl. I knew I was physically able, but was unsure how my porcelain would handle the large form (porcelain is more sensitive to cracking in the drying process).  But I felt I'd learned enough about this clay-body in the past couple years that there was a good possibility, and I decided to go for it. I'm so glad I did. 

 Stephanie and Aidan at their wedding. Photograph by Rachel Iliadis

Stephanie and Aidan at their wedding. Photograph by Rachel Iliadis

The greatest blessing of all of this was to hear about how the ceremony went from the family when I ran into them recently at a show I was having. Wow. What a special thing to be a part of. They shared these beautiful photographs of the foot washing with me and the detail shots of the pieces at the wedding by their photographer, Rachel Iliadis. Such gorgeous photographs of a special moment! 

 Photograph by Rachel Iliadis

Photograph by Rachel Iliadis

My friend also requested that I engrave Stephanie and Aidan's initials and wedding date on the side of the pitcher and also their names and date on the bottom of the bowl. The happy couple now uses the bowl as a centerpiece in their home. I'm hopeful that it will continue to be a piece that brings them joy and reminds them of the humble act they first made for each other at the start of their marriage. 

 Photograph by Rachel Iliadis

Photograph by Rachel Iliadis

Sharing my Story

Most if not all of what I've shared thus far is through social media and primarily includes little stories or announcements here and there about random instances and upcoming shows or sales. I'm excited to now have another platform to share more about my process and to include images and writing about how and why I do what I do. And I'm going to start with a story about just that - why.

Why I Make What I Make

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I think we are all made to seek peace. I know I do. Growing up, I quickly learned that nature was a wonderfully strong and raw way to experience peace. One of the most impactful experiences of peace in nature from my upbringing occurred each year during our annual trips to my grandparents farmland. I can vividly remember waking up each day and looking out the window to see a soft dew covering the fields of grass glistening in the dim morning light. The wind starting to blow the tall reeds, waking them up for the day ahead. And then at the close of each day, looking out over the pastures and through the trees to the sunset - the warm light picking up the dust in the air as it settled down from cars who passed by on the dirt road. Crickets beginning to chirp, and quiet, calm, peace.  

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While I was just beginning to sort out an aesthetic and mark making for my pottery that felt real and authentic to who I am, this imagery of peaceful nature steadily began recurring on the surfaces of my work. I avoided covering surfaces with glaze, because I was drawn to exterior surfaces that laid bare to the raw clay. I was drawn to colors and textures that occur frequently in nature - browns, greens, yellows, and rusty reds and oranges. And my hand tended to draw recurring lines and patterns, but organically, so as far as the eye can tell, each stroke remained individually unique. Something we see in nature everywhere.

But I didn’t necessarily tell myself, “Draw nature.”, which may have led to a more literal illustration of trees and flowers, etc. No, it was more of a gradual process of me figuring out a mark making that felt natural and authentic and good. It took me a while to realize and put into words, but I eventually realized that I was seeking, through my aesthetic, the same sense of peace and calm that those experiences in nature have always given me.

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Today I aim for others to find peaceful moments in my work as well. You may encounter one of my mugs during your first cup of coffee in the morning or a cup while enjoying a glass of wine at the end of the day. I hope to bring peace into the everyday lives of those who use my work. Pottery is very practical and functional, and many times this quality can cause pottery to be seen as just that, and therefore less of an art or aesthetic experience. And although there is a sweet intimacy about pottery due to its functional quality, I don’t want to stop there. I want the aesthetics of my work to visually bring a sense of peace and positivity to its users as well as its usefulness — making each piece just as enjoyable to the eye as it is to the hand. In this way, I hope to bring more vibrancy to the lives of those who use my pottery and inspire them to create beauty and peace in their own everyday experiences.