Meet Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura

Introducing Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura, a Maryland based ceramic artist and teacher. Laura has been getting her hands muddy since she was fourteen years old in a Saturday clay class at the Corcoran School for the Arts in Washington, DC. She is well known for her highly textured and colorful pots that exude joyfulness.

Introducing Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura

Meet Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura

Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura
Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura

I’m Laura Silberman and I call myself a clay artist. I create FUNctional ceramics for home and garden. Primarily, I use hand-building techniques embellished with lots of texture. Using a low fire clay and a bright color palette have helped me achieve a personal style that is often recognized by my customers and fans as a ClayByLaura creation. Sometimes I add mixed media elements to the pieces I make. People tell me my pieces are fun and make them happy! I’m glad to know the pleasure I get from making pottery translates to the finished work!

Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura - Bird Houses
Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura – Bird Houses

I read that you have been working with clay since you were 14 years old. Do you have a formal education in ceramics, or have you acquired your skills through community classes, workshops and by working by yourself?

My journey to full time clay artist began at a kid’s class at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC when I was 14. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Communications at Goucher College in 1978, I pursued a career in audio-visual production followed by a freelance career and full-time motherhood. During that time, I took a variety of clay classes and workshops.

I gained valuable technical knowledge from a variety of teachers along the way but I think regular practice and experimentation with my craft has also contributed to my success. My original home studio was outfitted with a used wheel and kiln in the 1990’s. 

Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura - Studio
Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura – Studio

Initially, the potter’s wheel was my clay workhorse as I exclusively threw pots on the wheel. I began to explore and enjoy hand-building techniques over the last ten years. It is now my primary method of clay making. My trusty Northstar slab roller is in constant use and has lasted more than 20 years with a few spare part repairs here and there.  I joke that my potter’s wheel has become ‘the treadmill’ of my studio. I won’t give it up, but it sits in the corner and is covered with various studio ‘stuff.’ 

Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura - Hand Building
Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura – Hand Building

When did you realize that your clay hobby could become a business?

Over the last decade, I worked seriously to develop my own creative style. Prior to that, I had been selling my pieces at occasional open studio shows. When I helped found and run a co-op art gallery in Bluffton, SC, in 2008 sales of ClayByLaura started to take off. I began to participate in juried craft shows and developed a business website to further market myself and increase sales opportunities. 

Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura - Craft Fair Booth
Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura – Craft Fair Booth

Many potters start out selling their work on Etsy. I noticed that you are using Squarespace as both a selling platform and website. Why and how is it working out for you?

I have an ETSY account, but decided to focus website sales through my own Squarespace developed site. While I appreciate the fact that ETSY has the potential to draw customers from a wide net, I decided to consolidate ‘my brand’ through one platform.

I am able to publish my weekly studio blog post, track statistics, receive inquiries, and comments from potential customers all from one source. I really love Squarespace. It is very easy to navigate and update. If I ever have a question about my website, the tech crew has been very helpful in resolving any issue. 

Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura - Close Up of Texture
Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura – Close Up of Texture

Similarly, how do you market your work?

I sell and market my pieces in numerous ways. I write a weekly blog post about myself and what is percolating in the studio. It is published through my Squarespace website, posted on my Facebook page and mailed to a customer email list through MailChimp. I started it more than 3 years ago.

Pottery Making Info repeatedly mentions and rates my blog in their monthly review; they have awarded it as a top pottery blog the past two years in their annual review. In addition to the website, I sell through shops, galleries, pop up shops, occasional craft fairs and private home shows. 

Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura - The Maddux Welcome Posts
Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura – The Maddux Welcome Posts

I’m very interested in your public art project that you have been working on with a local school. This is an avenue that I would like to pursue. Did you put together a formal proposal or did the school contact you directly to work with them? Can you share your experience designing and executing the tile totems with the students?

I recently completed a public art project for a local private school. A friend of mine is in charge of fundraising for the school and she approached me about creating a tile project to beautify the front entry of the school.

We came up with the idea of having the children (pre-school – 2nd grade), their parents, and teachers decorate pre-made bisque tiles with underglaze. The 4 x 4 tiles were then used to decorate 3 wooden posts of varying heights at the entry of the school.

Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura - Public Art and Fund Raising Project For School
Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura – Public Art and Fund Raising Project For School

The opportunity to ‘paint’ the tiles was sold at a fundraising gala as a way to help raise money for the school. I provided the materials, guided the ‘painting’ activity, glazed and fired each tile. I also made some of the tiles with the school name and logo. Finally, I adhered the tiles to the planted wooden posts. This project is emblematic of projects and new ideas I tackle. “Can you make?” is a question I love to explore with customers. 

Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura - Garden Bell Class
Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura – Garden Bell Class

I notice that you also teach clay classes and just read about your “Garden Bell” class on your blog. Do you host your classes in your studio or at another location?

Over the years, I have taught classes and workshops to other clay enthusiasts sometimes at my own studio or other teaching venues. Most recently, I have been teaching quick project classes in tandem with a local shop in Frederick, Md. called The Muse. The owner, Whitney Bingham, hosts regular craft parties for customers featuring all kinds of art projects including jewelry, painting and fiber through her store.

Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura - Garden Bell
Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura – Garden Bell

The classes are held at the Frederick, Md. studio (near The Muse) of another local fiber artist, Margaret Hluch. With these particular classes, I create a bisque fired item that students decorate with acrylic paints. The textured surface on the clay responds beautifully to layering and wiping away a variety of paint colors.

These items are not meant to be used for food, so we have made several different garden items in the classes including a pot sticker, wind chimes and a garden bell. Buttons and beads are some times added to embellish the finished pieces. In a few weeks, I’ll lead a jewelry class; we’ll be making a wrap bracelet using a central clay medallion and recycled bits of fashion jewelry. 

Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura - Garden Totems
Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura – Garden Totems

I’m particularly drawn to your garden address number totems. These are so clever…and I might need to make one for my own home. 🙂 I assume that these are custom orders that clients work with you to design?

I began making outdoor totems about ten years ago. What started out as simple house numbers stacked on top of each other has morphed into many other creative outdoor garden shapes. I work with an individual client to customize a design just for them. Words, numbers and a variety of shapes can be stacked to create a beautiful outdoor adornment. Some of the pieces are finished with mixed media to complete the design. I have created, installed and shipped numerous totem combinations throughout the United States!

Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura - Greenware
Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura – Greenware

In perusing your website, I’m so impressed by your range and creativity. Who or what inspires you?

I LOVE making things with clay. It’s my favorite part of the process. As I mentioned previously, I get input and inspiration from my customers. Additionally, I tend to make items I like to use. Bright colors and lots of texture make me happy and led me to my current use of low-fire clays and glazes. Texturing clay reminds me of different fabric patterns I combined when I used to sew clothing in my younger years. I like to make many of the texture tools I use. Pinterest and Instagram are other great inspiration resources.  It’s helpful to see what other potters have made to spark an idea.

Clay by Laura - Blue Cake Stand
Clay by Laura – Blue Cake Stand

What do you do for fun outside of pottery?

I love to cook which is another reason I like to make pieces that are FUNctional. I want people to use my creations in their everyday lives and I often include a recipe with pieces I sell. This gives people an idea of how to use a particular pottery piece. Additionally, it’s another marketing tool. My recipe cards include a photo of one of my recipe boxes, my name, logo, and contact information!

Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura - Yarn Bowls
Laura Silberman of Clay by Laura – Yarn Bowls

I am also an avid knitter and I knit every night when watching television with my husband. It is a meditative and relaxing activity for me.

Also, I putter in my garden. Digging in the dirt and planting flowers keep me busy and give me an excuse to spend time outdoors!

Where can people find you? 

Online:

Galleries/Shops:

Upcoming events:

Making a Wrap Bracelet – The Muse Craft Party – June 21


I publish interviews with artists whose primary medium is clay once a week, every Friday. This regular segment is named “Feature Fridays”. Find past interviews on the Ceramicscapes Blog using the category search function on the right hand sidebar. Would you like to be featured on my blog? Visit the Apply for Feature Fridays page for more information.

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Meet Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Ceramics

Today, I’m sharing the work of Jamie Kelly. I’m a huge fan of his work and I first met him a few years ago when he became a member of the Colorado Potters Guild. This spring, I finally snagged one of his gorgeous soda fired bud vases.

Jamie Kelly Red Beard Ceramics
Jamie Kelly Red Beard Ceramics

Meet Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Ceramics:

I’m James Kelly and I’m a potter living in Denver CO. I’ve had a love for ceramics since I took my first class in high school in Michigan. Working with clay is a like working with no other medium, there are endless possibilities. I moved to Colorado after college with a friend looking for a new adventure. The reality of life set in and I ended working all sorts of jobs and clay took a back seat to life for about 10 years.

Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Studio - Mod Mugs
Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Ceramics – Mod Mugs

I finally got my nerve up to apply to the Potter’s Guild and was accepted in 2010. Shortly after that I met my beautiful wife and we were married in 2013. We then bought a house and converted the garage into my studio. Since then I have been working to create work that I feel is good enough to share with the world.

Jamie Kelly Red Beard Studio Space
Jamie Kelly Red Beard Ceramics’ Studio Space

We are both members of the Colorado Potters Guild. How many years have you been a member of the guild and what does it mean to you to be part of a local clay community.

I’ve been a member for 7 years. For me being a member means being part of a community of like-minded individuals. We all share the same desire to create, and the guild provides us that opportunity.  It’s gratifying being a part of a group of peers that all have a passion for clay.

Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Studio - Soda Fired Bud Vases
Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Ceramics – Soda Fired Bud Vases

How many years have your been working with clay and do you have a formal education in clay/art or how did you acquire your skills?

I’ve been working with clay off and on since 1991 and have a BFA in Ceramics from Northern Michigan University. Though, I first fell in love with clay in high school where we had a fully functional ceramics studio. 

 

Meet Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Studio
Meet Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Ceramics

Your ceramic business is “Red Beard Ceramics” – I get the obvious correlation. 🙂 How did you name your business?

 
Choosing a name was something I hemmed and hawed over. I wanted to have something that identified myself without having to use my name. Ultimately, it came down to REDBEARDceramics or REDBEARDstudio. I like them both and am still using them interchangeably at the moment. The only problem with my name is that my beard is turning grey at an alarming rate so a change down the line may be in order.
 
Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Studio - Soda Fired Bottles
Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Ceramics – Soda Fired Bottles

How do you work (techniques/glazing/firing methods)?

Most of my work is either wheel thrown, hand built, or a combination of those two processes. I primarily work with porcelain and fire my work in the soda kiln. I spray my work with various combinations of slips and glazes to create flowing surfaces that are enhanced by the soda firing process. Soda firing is a process where soda ash is dissolved in water and sprayed through ports in the kiln near the hottest point of the firing and the soda ash is vaporized and swirls throughout the kiln reacting with the glazes, slips, and raw clay to create unique surfaces that capture the essence of the firing. 

Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Studio - Tea Pot
Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Ceramics – Tea Pot

Who or what inspires you?

I draw inspiration from all sorts of places. Certainly my college professor Sam Chung has had a lasting impression on me. I am inspired by the simple clean lines of mid century modern architecture and furniture, as well as the random organic shapes found in nature. 

Jamie Kelly's Cliff May Mid Century Modern Home
Jamie Kelly’s Cliff May Mid Century Modern Home

You live in an neighborhood enclave of mid century modern homes in Denver (Harvey Park). How has renovating your home and living in such a mod space influenced your current work?

 
Moving into our Cliff May home in 2014 was a turning point in my ceramics pursuits. We moved from a 600 sq. ft. condo downtown and this was my first opportunity to have a home studio. The simple clean lines of the mid century modern architecture drew us in after seeing so many brick boxes that lacked much visual interest. The space has a one car garage that I gutted and insulated, ran a gas line, and upgraded the electrical with a sub panel for an electric kiln. While the space is rather small it functions great for my needs.
 
Jamie Kelly's Living Room in His Mid Century Modern Home
Jamie Kelly’s Living Room in His Mid Century Modern Home

The house in itself is a piece of art and is a inspiring space to work and live in. Through learning about this architecture, furniture and decor of the 50’s I’ve drawn all sorts of inspiration. I love simple, minimal forms with little embellishment in this space. Seeing my work on display in my house has driven at least some of my work to try and be simple, modern, and aesthetically pleasing in the space.

 
I’d like to incorporate some of the color schemes going on in my house into my work. Subtle shades of grey and white contrasted with bright lime green. I gutted and redid the bathroom and that process really made me think about how important finishes and color choices matter in architecture, the same is true with ceramics. Living in this house is a joy and a wonderful space to create art.
Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Studio - Bud Vases
Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Ceramics – Bud Vases

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you or your work? 

 
I’m still trying to figure out my niche as far as where my work is going. I tried an art fair last december and had a positive experience. While I’ve yet to sign up for any this year, I intend to pursue that avenue more in the future.
 
Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Studio - Booth Display
Jamie Kelly of Red Beard Ceramics – Booth Display

Currently, I’m selling work through my Etsy Shop at and have been trying to develop a website. I can be found on Instagram @redbeardceramics and that’s where I post most of my current happenings. Going forward I hope to keep honing my craft and develop lines of work that I can reproduce consistently at a high level of quality. I enjoy experimenting, but perfecting certain ideas along the way is something I need to spend more time focusing on. I love working with clay and the endless possibilities it holds. 

Where else can people find your work?

  • Facebook
  • Other than the two annual shows put on by the Colorado Potters Guild I try to participate in a few local craft fairs throughout the year as well as trying to get into a few gallery shows. 

I publish interviews with artists whose primary medium is clay once a week, every Friday. This regular segment is named “Feature Fridays”. Find past interviews on the Ceramicscapes Blog using the category search function on the right hand sidebar. Interested in being featured? Visit the Apply for Feature Fridays page for more information.

Meet Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery

Jackson Gray is the creative force behind her business she has cleverly named Jackpots Pottery. While Jackson utilizes a variety of techniques to decorate her ceramic work, I just love her sgraffito tiles and I think you will too.

Jackson Gray - JackPots Pottery
Jackson Gray – Jackpots Pottery

Please Introduce Yourself:

Hi, I’m Jackson Gray, a studio potter from San Diego, CA. My pottery business is called Jackpots Pottery.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery Working in Her Studio
Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery Working in Her Studio

How did your clay journey begin?

I came to clay after years of thinking I had no artistic talent (thanks to a high school art teacher’s advice to stick with math). While hiking one day, I fell into step with an acquaintance who asked me what I would do if I didn’t have to work for a living. I told him I had always wanted to throw clay on a pottery wheel. I swear I didn’t know that he manufactured potters wheels for a living. Long story short, I have been working with clay since that day in 1992. I learned mostly from community college classes and by taking workshops in San Diego and around the U.S.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Sgraffito Platter Based on a Photo of a Heron Rookery Jackson's Husband Took
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Sgraffito Platter Based on a Photo of a Heron Rookery Jackson’s Husband Took

You employ a number of surface decoration techniques including adding texture using printmaking techniques, slip inlay and sgraffito. I am particularly drawn to your sgraffito work – your tiles are fabulous! Why not concentrate on one technique or style?

Thank you, I love the sgraffito too, but it is really hard on my body. I have carpel tunnel, but have the issue under control by using a wrist brace and taking frequent breaks. This is not to say that I would do only sgraffito if my wrist would allow it.

I’m a bit crazy when it comes to texture and am always looking for something new. One thing I do is carve lino mats to use as a template. I realize having one cohesive look would be more “professional” looking, but when I have just shown the sgraffito work at craft fairs, I couldn’t cover my expenses. My booth was gorgeous but people weren’t spending their money there.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Booth at Craneway Winter Crafts Show 2016
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Booth at Craneway Winter Crafts Show 2016

Your sgraffito tiles have a narrative quality to them. What is your inspiration or where do you find your subject matter for your tiles?

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Surfer Girl Sgraffito Tile
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Surfer Girl Sgraffito Tile

My first tiles were surfers or flowers. My son surfs and I live by the beach. Also,  I love tropical flowers, but inspiration can come from anywhere. I attended a lecture by Hawaiian bird photographer, Jack Jeffrey and was inspired to carve one of his photos of an I’iwi, which is where I started adding a bit of color to my sgraffito. It seemed necessary on that bird.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - I'iwi Sgraffito Tile
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – I’iwi Sgraffito Tile

Another time, a friend got a new dog and I had to carve it – which has led to an interesting custom option, I’ll make a tile of your pet from a photo. I recently sent tiles to a gallery that is having an exhibit entitled “Homage to the Ranches” – the night I saw the title, I lay in bed, pre-sleep with a busy mind – and an old 1950- something pick-up truck popped into my head as a “ranch truck”, which then led me to the internet to see what those lines actually look like.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - '50's Pickup Truck Tile
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – ’50’s Pickup Truck Tile

I personally love hand-building with slabs of clay, though I throw occasionally. Are you primarily a hand-builder? Why? 

I am primarily a hand-builder. I have a wheel and am an OK thrower, but I never became really good at throwing. When I try to make a set of something the same size, I just have much more luck if I start with a template – and then there’s that texture thing. It can be so crisp when put on a slab.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Carving a Linoleum Mat
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Carving a Linoleum Mat

Can we talk about your wholesale business? I noticed that you are a member of indieMe.com which is formerly wholesalecrafts.com. How do you balance the retail and wholesale side of your pottery business? 

I only have the framed tiles on IndieMe.com right now. Quite frankly, I haven’t done much there, so balancing isn’t difficult. I probably should do more to promote that side of business. I spend a lot of time with my Etsy site.

You will be teaching a weeklong workshop this summer at the Mendocino Art Center in Northern California called, “Patterns, Seams and Darts: Sewing Up Pots With Personality. Did you apply to teach, did the art center reach out to you, or how did you find the opportunity to teach at such a wonderful place?

I applied to and was fortunate to be accepted to sell at the American Craft Council Show in San Francisco in 2016. Evan Hobart, the program director from the Mendocino Art Center, was in attendance promoting their summer workshops. He saw my work and asked if I would like to teach a sgraffito workshop – which I did last summer.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Darted Tripod Textured Mugs
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Darted Tripod Textured Mugs

A few days into the sgraffito workshop, I showed the class how to make a tri-foot mug. Evan loved it and asked if I’d like to come back this summer for a longer class and teach hand-building. It feels pretty special to me since the first workshop I ever travelled to attend was in Mendocino, so I’ve circled back to the beginning.

Where do you primarily show and sell your work? Craft Shows, galleries, online?

Before this year, I would say most of my sales were at weekend craft shows, I did quite a lot of them. In 2015 I think I did 15 or 16, which feels like a lot to me. But, my Etsy shop has started doing better which makes the idea of all that packing & unpacking, schlepping and setting up the booth seem like so much more work…I am at retirement age, after all.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Water Color of Husband Taking Photographs
Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery – Jackson’s Husband Taking Photographs

Who or what inspires you? 

Nature…birds, rocks, trees, the clay itself, other potters and their enthusiasm, my husband and his love for the outdoors – which motivates me to get out and experience nature.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Big Horn Sheep Inspiration
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Big Horn Sheep Inspiration
Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Big Horn Sheep Sgraffito Tile
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Big Horn Sheep Sgraffito Tile

What do you do for fun outside of pottery?

Hahaha, see the previous question. We’ve always camped – roll out a pad and a sleeping bag on the ground. If the weather permits, we skip the tent. But as I mentioned earlier, we are getting older and bought a camper last summer. We are planning several trips this summer. After the Mendocino workshop, we’ll continue on to Oregon for the solar eclipse and a gathering of muddy friends from the EtsyMudTeam.

We also like to hike and cross-country ski. Although a shoulder injury has kept me away, but I’ve been repaired and look forward to next season.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Manta Ray Inspiration
Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery – Manta Ray Inspiration

Snorkeling – In September I had a blast swimming with manta rays on a night snorkel in Hawaii and a few days later, dolphins joined us

We also love to travel and have been lucky enough to visit several countries.

I’m pretty involved with 2 of my grandkids who live nearby – unfortunately the others (we have 8 total) are not close.

Jackson Gray of JackPots Pottery - Ava Makes a Mug
Jackson Gray of Jackpots Pottery – Ava Makes a Mug

I read mysteries, watch way too much television, listen to music and NPR, and humor my cats

Where can people find you? 

Online:

Wholesale:

  • indieMe.com – I’m artist #26526 and if a visitor password is needed, use JaxPots

In Person:

Upcoming events:

The workshop that I am teaching at Mendocino on August 14–18, 2017 is all I have scheduled this year since my husband will be retiring soon. We plan to explore this country a bit, but here is the link to register for the workshop: http://www.mendocinoartcenter.org/Summer17/Gray.html


I publish interviews with artists whose primary medium is clay once a week, every Friday. This regular segment is named “Feature Fridays”. Find past interviews on the Ceramicscapes Blog using the category search function on the right hand sidebar. Interested in being featured? Visit the Apply for Feature Fridays page for more information.

Meet Jim Bridgeman – Ceramic Artist

Jim Bridgeman of Bridgeman Studios is a ceramic artist from Georgia. While his ceramic work is minimal in color and finish, his creations are functional works of art that beg to be displayed.

Jim Bridgeman Ceramic Artist - Ceramic Chess Set
Jim Bridgeman Ceramic Artist – Ceramic Chess Set

Please Introduce Yourself:

Hi, I’m Jim Bridgeman. A retired air traffic controller, husband and father and now ceramic artist? (I struggle calling myself an artist/potter)
 
Jim Bridgeman Ceramic Artist - Handbuilt Vase
Jim Bridgeman Ceramic Artist – Handbuilt Vase

How did clay hook you? 

In 2006 I was forced to take an early retirement from my job as an air traffic controller due to some health issues. Unsure what I was going to do with the rest of my life, my wife found a pottery wheel throwing class offered at the local rec department. I was hooked day one.

Ive known” you since about 2007/2008 when we were both members of the Etsy Mud Team. Your work has taken a fairly dramatic stylistic shift since then. Can you pinpoint when this happened or was it gradual? 

Yep, dramatic is correct, but not unexpected to me. In May 2012, I discovered Neil Gaiman’s graduation speech to The University of the Arts. A month later I spent 10 days in Uganda helping out in a remote village and spending time with two kids we sponsor there. I listened to Neil Gaiman’s speech over 50 times during the two weeks in Uganda and travel time to and from. Upon returning from Uganda, due to budget cuts, I was let go from a job I held as a contract air traffic control instructor for the FAA. This allowed me to begin handbuilding where much of the work is both very time consuming and time critical.
 
Jim Bridgeman Ceramic Artist - Ceramic Dream Bottle
Jim Bridgeman Ceramic Artist – Ceramic Dream Bottle

The “dream” bottle is one of the first pieces I made after being let go and was greatly inspired by the portion of Neil Gaiman’s speech where he says:  

“A freelance life, a life in the arts, is sometimes like putting messages in bottles, on a desert island, and hoping that someone will find one of your bottles and open it and read it, and put something in a bottle that will wash its way back to you: appreciation, or a commission, or money, or love. And you have to accept that you may put out a hundred things for every bottle that winds up coming back.”
 
Jim Bridgeman Ceramic Artist - Horizontal Nail Vase
Jim Bridgeman Ceramic Artist – Horizontal Nail Vase

Your current ceramic work is very architectural, where do you find your inspiration?

Well, I actually went through 3 1/2 years of VA Tech’s 5 year architecture program before changing my major. Clay allows me to pursue and explore forms without getting caught up in the minutiae.
Jim Bridgeman Ceramic Artist - Inserting Nails into Pot
Jim Bridgeman Ceramic Artist – Inserting Nails into Pot

Do you still sell online, or mostly at in person events? Why?

Almost all of my work is sold in person at art shows for a couple reasons. The first is the time consuming aspect of the type of work I make. I haven’t reached a point where I feel I can safely set aside work to list online and still feel comfortable with the amount of work I am bringing to shows. The second reason is that every piece is unique as well as every side of each piece. The time needed to photograph, edit, upload and list images of all sides of a piece wasn’t making business sense in terms of time spent vs sales from those listings.
 
Jim Bridgeman - "Punny" Pot(ter) t-shirt
Jim Bridgeman – “Punny” Pot(tery) t-shirt

I love your new t-shirts – theyre very pottery punny. How did you come up with the idea and why did you decide to get into the t-shirt business? 

The Pot[tery] Makes Me Happy!!! shirt was a design I submitted for a yearly pottery show I participate in here in GA called Perspectives. The intent of the design was to grab people’s attention from a distance with Pot Makes Me Happy!!!, then when they got closer they would see it actually said “Pottery” as well as the name of the show which had been on the bottom of the design.
 
The show went with a more traditional design than the one that I submitted. I can’t say I was surprised.
 
(Author’s note – check out Jim’s t-shirts in his Etsy shop – only $24.95 with FREE shipping! I plan on wearing mine to my next in person event.)

What do you do for fun outside of pottery?

I volunteer at the elementary school where (my now) high school aged kids attended to help kids with reading and math – I love it! I also like to take the dogs to a nearby nature area to hike a few miles a day. Feed the chipmunks that live around my studio.

Where can people find you? 

Bridgemanstudios.com forwards to a mostly empty etsy shop (aforementioned tshirts are there)

Upcoming events:

Winter Park, FL 3/17-19
Dogwood, Atlanta 4/7-9
Fired Works, Macon, GA 4/21-30
Artisphere, Greenville, SC 5/12-14
Reston, VA 5/20-21
Decatur, GA 5/27-28


I publish interviews with artists whose primary medium is clay once a week, every Friday. This regular segment is named “Feature Fridays” which can be found when searching the Ceramicscapes Blog using the category search function on the right hand sidebar. Interested in being featured? Visit the Apply for Feature Fridays page for more information.