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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Your ceramic business is “Red Beard Ceramics” – I get the obvious correlation. 🙂 How did you name your business?
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.
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.
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?
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.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you or your work?
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?
- 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.