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handmade pottery

Maker Stories

This Just In-Spiration: Meet Alison Evans

February 1, 2016

Alison Evans | UncommonGoods

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Alison Evans, the artist behind our new Oyster Porcelain Dishware Collection.Oyster Porcelain Dishware Collection | UncommonGoods
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
When I was 14, I took a computer programing class and a pottery class (among other classes) and realized that sitting in front of computer was no fun. I wanted to have a job that was physically demanding and creative. At that time, I thought to myself – maybe I should become a potter?

Alison Evans | UncommonGoods
What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?
I’ve always been very goal-oriented, so to make a living doing what I love and being able to check that off of my list in my 20s was a big accomplishment.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Shandi & Casey McConnell

July 27, 2015

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Shandi and Casey McConnell, designers of the Envelope Wall Vase.

Somewhere between throwing pottery and hanging out with their two small children, Shandi found some time to tell us a bit about their business and designs.

PicMonkey Collage
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
As far back as I can remember I’ve always had a love for drawing, painting and making. My mom loved art and encouraged my creativity from early on. As a little girl I remember entering coloring contests from the paper and winning a gallon of ice cream from the local Hinky Dinky grocery store. During middle school I took woodworking classes which opened my eyes to the world of making objects in 3D. Surprisingly it wasn’t until college that I even touched clay.

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What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?
I can still remember the feeling of selling my work for the very first time at a local art show. I couldn’t believe that people were actually giving me money for my work, by the end of the show I had done pretty well and knew this was what I am meant to do. Being able to make a living doing what we love is extremely rewarding in so many ways. I love the freedom that comes with making what I want, working when I want, and being able to take time for life as it happens and not living with a schedule.

PicMonkey Collage

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What does your typical day in the studio look like?

Oh boy, or should I say boys! With a 2 year old and 8 month old there is no typical day!

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It’s a mad house scramble in the morning with one of us just trying to get into the studio. Once one of us makes it out there the days work is prepped by slab roller, extruding or making lists to glaze or throw. We then pack any orders that need shipped for the day then head back out to work on clay. Casey and I take turns between hanging out with the boys and working in the studio all day long. I probably change my clothes 10 times a day. We’ve become more focused with our work; there is a lot less design/play time right now but studio time is still a happy and peaceful place. I tell myself this craziness is temporary!

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Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near?
I do have quite the collection of Buddha figures. They remind me of our travels and the genuine full of life people we’ve met around the world. Having them around brings me to a good place.

PicMonkey Collage

What quote or mantra keeps your motivated?
I have a lot of them but here are some of my favorites:
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag
“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“You’ve got to be true to yourself.” And a poster that hangs in my studio: “Every day you inspire people you have never met.”

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What are your most essential tools?
For myself it’s the slab roller and my handmade stamps. Casey has a fettling knife that he HAS to use; the studio gets torn apart if it’s misplaced. It now has an easier to spot red painted handle after it was lost for a few days.

Maker Stories, The Uncommon Life

This Just In-spiration: Meet Bubba Jones

July 6, 2015

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the person behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Bubba Jones, designer of our Tankard Stein.

Bubba Jones | Tankard Stein | UncommonGoods

Bubba Jones is a bit like the Lone Ranger on a mission to bring pots to the people.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Ever since I was little I made things with my hands.  Whatever was around I built with and made into things that fed my imagination.  I have been to art school and been an artist; now I want to be a potter.

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?
Cash flow is the most exciting thing about being a pro, a lot like a roller coaster ride, very exciting.

Tankard Stein | UncommonGoods

What does your typical day in the studio look like?
You do what the pots tell you to do.  If the cups are dry enough for handles, do that, if not sit down at the wheel and make more.  On a good day you can make pots in the morning and finish them in the evening.

Bubba Jones |  Tankard Stein | UncommonGoods

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?
There is my kiln god, I call Maui, who has watched over every one of my electric kiln firings since 1994.  Firing is a complicated process with so many overlapping subtle variables that it really does appear to work by a combination of careful attention, practice and magic, no matter how long you have been doing it or how much you pay attention to the science behind what is happening.  As a result, traditional potteries from many different cultures use talismans and kiln gods to watch over their firings.

Bubba Jones | UncommonGoods

Maui the kiln God

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartner for the first time. What do you think they would say?
Can I put chocolate milk in here?

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
Making pottery is a process of training the intuition.

What are your most essential tools?
My potters wheel, my kiln and my hands.

 

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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.

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The Uncommon Life

What a Crock…of Compost!

April 14, 2011

Earth Month is in full swing, and we’re excited to see so many of our readers pledging to make positive changes!

The response to our Compost Crock Giveaway was fantastic, and we want to thank everyone who entered. Congratulations to our winners:

Jennifer, who won the Simplify crock with her Facebook pledge, says that she “Just started composting!!”

Candra posted her comment, “I already compost, and pledge to continue! I am really getting interested in vermiculture, and plan to start later this year, too” and won the Grow crock.

Ceramic Countertop Compost Container

Speaking of vermiculture, take a look at our Worm Factory, and check out FindWorms.com to learn more!

Or go worm hunting on a rainy day with the help of the Blunt Umbrella. Not able to venture outdoors at the moment? Read up on some of the talented UncommonGoods artists helping to keep the planet green, like Beth Mueller, creator of the compost crocks, and Marty Stevens-Heebner, who’s recycled paper handbags are environmentally friendly and fashionable!

The Uncommon Life

Earth Month Giveaway: Compost Crock

April 8, 2011

Composting is a great way to prevent organic waste from ending up in landfills; it also provides a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers for your lawn, garden or houseplants.

Of course, not everyone has the space for a big outdoor compost bin. Fortunately, composting doesn’t always have to start outside.

In honor of Earth Month, we’re giving away Beth Mueller’s Ceramic Countertop Compost Container. These handmade crocks don’t take up too much space, so they’re perfect for apartments, trailer homes and other small living quarters. Once your small container is full, take it to a larger bin in your yard, or community compost center.

Entering to win is easy; just leave a comment sharing your pledge to compost. We’ll choose one winner to receive a “Grow” crock and one to receive a “Simplify” crock.

Already compost? You can:

1.) Pledge to advocate composting to your friends, family and community.
2.) Start a composting program at school or work.
3.) Promise to take home your organic scraps for composting after dining out—don’t forget to bring a reusable container and skip the doggie bag!

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