Being a potter has been a dream of mine since I was a small child. Every step of the process is radically different and each has captivating features that challenge and excite me. I started working with clay when I was in high school, and then learned everything else I know about ceramics at Western Carolina University. This is where I learned about glaze chemistry, something that sets my work apart from many other potters. I spent years designing my own glazes through trial and error tests. I fire in a cone six reduction, which means I use a kiln powered by gas and I am able to control different factors by adjusting fuel and air flow ratios. The kiln reaches about 2300 F. with each firing. All these different factors affect how a glaze will come out, even it's placement on the shelf or how close it is to another piece can radically change the colors and textures of a piece. This uncertainty is what I love most about ceramics.
Outside of ceramics I love to cook, garden, paint, and teach. I've taught art at a number of facilities, ranging from preschool through college/adults. Art is a fascinating subject and I love sharing what I know with others. Cooking is like ceramics with all of it's different steps and ingredients, but edible, and I love to eat! I also love being able to eat and cook from my garden, although I'm still figuring out how to keep most of my plants alive long enough to actually eat from them. I do better with low maintenance house plants like succulents, which are all over my house and studio.
My studio is a re-purposed building that was remodeled by myself, my supportive boyfriend Todd, and my amazing and loving parents. This small place was built in the 1940s by Todd's grandfather as a place for drying meats, which feels ironic as I now use it to create dinnerware. It was moved to our current home a few years before we got there and used for storage, as Todd and I live on land that has been owned by his family for generations in the gorgeous foothills of Western North Carolina. My parents own a remodeling business in Atlanta, where my dad does construction and my mom paints. Growing up I learned a lot about how to fix things up, and it's skill I treasure. Todd is also incredibly handy, so together we've been working hard to make my studio dreams come true (not to mention how much we've done to beautify our house as well!) My parents did have to come for a visit and help us with a few things we were not able to do, like putting in a window, fixing the electrical work, and hooking the proper plug for my bisque kiln. The studio itself is just under 100 square feet, aka not much room at all. I do all of my creating in this small space, and make the most of it by utilizing my shelves and storage containers. Luckily, we have a little bit of land so I am free to sprawl outside!
And most importantly, I have a cat named Louis! He is my pride and joy, and has a beautiful story to him. Louis came into my life in the summer of 2018; Todd had just graduated and was about to start his job as a high school history teacher, I was getting ready for my last year at Western Carolina University, which was filled with ceramics and student teaching. I had been teaching four year olds at The Art Place in Marietta, as I have done every summer for four years now and just adore, but I had come back up to Cullowhee to help Todd move out of his apartment and into the home we both live in now. Shortly after I got there, Todd pointed out a small cat on the hill behind his apartment, and before he could say "don't touch it" I had sprinted over there to try and cox him over for a few pets. Much to my surprise, he climbed right into my lap! The two of us sat outside of the front door playing with this sweet kitty for hours, and we jokingly called him Louis after one of my dads friends. He was skinny and his fur was dirty, but because he was so friendly I assumed someone had lost him. So we decided to post pictures on Facebook on the local lost pets page and take him to the shelter in the morning. Todd had to work the next day, so it was just me and this adorable scrawny kitty off on a sad journey I did not want to take! But I knew I had to, if my sweet pet was lost I would want someone to do the same. So I scooped him up and put him in the backseat of my car, only to have him jump out the window and run back to the front door, where he sat on the welcome mat and meowed at me. I tried again to put him in the car, this time with the window shut. He got through the door before I closed it, and went back to the front door again. And one more time. But he still wouldn't leave, he was rubbing on my legs and never scratched or squirmed when I picked him up. I called the shelter, and turns out they were closing earlier than I thought, in 30 minutes. Which wouldn't have been a big deal, but we were moving Todd two hours away in four hours and then I was going back to Atlanta to work in a few days. I felt a responsibility to get this cat to the no kill shelter so his family could find him, or if no one came I could adopt him in a month when I came back up to school. So I got very creative, and put him in a hard-sided cooler! I threw the cooler in my backseat, and opened so he could breathe after I got in. The shelter was only two miles away, but at the very top of a mountain and on the other side of a highway. It was a terrifying drive, as I thought this random cat might claw my eyes out while I was driving. Instead he stumbled around the car and made strange cat noises. When I got to the shelter, the man working was not interested in trying to cat wrangle in the last 10 minutes of his shift, so he handed me a carrier and told me to put the little kitty inside. Louis, my future cat, did not agree. He struggled and squirmed, still never scratching or biting me, but he was to slippery and bendy to put into the plastic carrier. I set him down to try and get a better hold of him, and he bolted. Completely disappeared into the woods, off of a steep hill that I was not able to climb down, or back up for that matter. I was devastated, and sobbing pathetically in the parking lot, much to the man at the shelters confusion. He offered to set out food to try and catch him, but I was doubtful. I went home, cried a lot, took a nap, and cried some more. I felt so guilty that I had intended to help this cat find a family he may have had, and by losing him in a different spot I had ruined those chances, and selfishly, I cried because I couldn't have him either. I decided to visit Todd at work, thinking it would cheer me up. But I ended up pulling over three times checking roadkill to make sure it wasn't sweet Louis trying to get home (it wasn't), and cried most of dinner. Todd begged me to calm down because we were moving in a few hours, and we had a long drive. I hysterically talked about going back to the closed shelter to find him, and Todd made me promise not to. And it was the only time I broke a promise in our relationship, because I had a gut feeling that I had to go. So I pulled up to the gate as the sun was going down, and hopped the locked fence. There was a long dirt road up to the shelter, and I silently walked it in fear of getting in trouble for trespassing. When the coast seemed clear, I started calling Louis's name. My voice was shaky and I was sure nothing would happen, but I kept calling and clapped my hands a few times, and to my disbelief, Louis came running full speed out of the woods! I picked him up and sobbed into his leaf covered fur while he rubbed his face against mine meowing and purring. I put him in my car, and then proceeded to help Todd move the rest of his belongings and we left that night. I called the shelter the next day, and left all of my information and a description along with the picture I'd put on Facebook, so that if anyone was looking for him they could find him. It's been well over a year, and Louis and I are very happy together!
He loves pottery too, and often comes to the studio to watch me work, but he does not like to be dirty anymore!