Maker Stories

Love by the Bucket

September 27, 2011

When West Virginia University art students Noelle VanHendrick and Eric Hendrick met in pottery class more than a decade ago, who knew that one day they’d be running a pottery business together?

The budding ceramicists both completed degrees in fine arts, served in apprenticeship, and wanted to make a living doing what they loved. According to Noelle, in one year, the couple graduated, got married, started a family, and jumped into the professional art world.

Eric and Noelle were so determined to get their business up and running, they spent their newlywed money on a large amount of red clay. Unfortunately, their new lot wasn’t like the clay they had used in the past. “We bought a ton of clay we had some expierence with,” Noelle explains, “but the clay was horrible. We couldn’t return it, [we] tried. All of our glazes would crawl and craze. The handles and spouts would crack…it was a bad situation.”

She says they were, understandably, “super bummed” about the situation, so they decided to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas to lift their spirits. Encouraged by the jack-o’-lanterns in the film, the couple started sculpting clay pumpkins without glazes or attachments.

Although the couple now glaze their pieces, and use a dark chocolate clay, which they say is “inspired by our love for dark chocolate,” their pieces still reflect the feel of the attachment-free jack-o’lanterns.

Like those first pumpkins inspired by a classic stop-motion animation film, Eric and Noelle’s new designs are motivated by the little details in daily life. “The world inspires me and humans intrigue me,” says Noelle.

Eric says he’s inspired by the material itself.

Once they have the design down, the couple focuses on reproducing it. Although each Bucket of Joy and Love and Comfy Nudge Mug is handcrafted and unique, the basic shape and style must be recreated.

“The more you do something the better and more efficent you get at doing it. We’ve been making many pots for quite sometime,” Noelle explains. She says it’s important for emerging designers to showcase their work. “Just get it out there and see what happens, and learn from whatever may happen.”

Eric adds a bit of advice that, when executed, can prove both challenging and rewarding, “Create and keep creating.”

Editor’s Note: If you’ve got the drive to create, enter our UncommonGoods Ceramics Design Challenge by October 31, 2011. One grand prize winner will receive $500 and the chance to sell your work on UncommonGoods.

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