Nearly a decade ago, I started HandsOnCeramics with a simple idea in mind: there’s no good reason that a beautiful, unique piece of home decor or cozy kitchenware should have to cost a fortune. In the years since the studio began, the spirit of functional, aesthetic ceramics at an accessible price has found a home in all 50 states and nearly 20 countries. Though HandsOnCeramics has continued to grow in scale from those early days, elbowing for shelf space in the small Chicago studio where I got my start, I still throw, sculpt, fire, glaze, decorate and ship each piece with my own two hands, lending each mug and pot a natural, one-of-a-kind flair informed by decades of experience.
When I was young, I used to sit for hours in front of the living room fireplace and play with the candles on the mantle, sculpting the wax into different shapes and figures. My mom, looking to encourage this new interest (and protect the portion of the living room that remained un-spattered with wax) put me into a pottery class. In the years since, that fascination with the natural beauty of sculpture has blossomed into a lifelong devotion to the craft.
During high school, I took part in a work-study program that immersed me in the hectic, thrilling environment of a ceramics studio in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. After graduating, I enrolled in a ceramics program at Concordia University in Montreal before moving to Chicago in 2008. Starting from the very bottom of the pottery ladder, mopping floors and bartering for shelf space at Park West Ceramics on the north side of Chicago, I worked my way up to teaching classes by 2012. Around this time, I started selling a few pieces at fairs and outdoor markets, but the scattered sales that would one day grow into a studio of my own didn’t truly begin to redirect my life until I moved back to New York City in 2015.
I landed at City Potters, another studio in Chelsea, and was immediately taken in by the wonderful group of women who worked there. As I found a new home in the studio, so too did I make a new home for the work I had sold during my later years in Chicago, a fledgling Etsy page called HandsOnCeramics. Over the next five years, the women of City Potters would teach me everything I needed to know about running a pottery studio, from how to mix glazes and load kilns to the decidedly less artisanal rituals of restocking and financing. With all of the encouragement and support I could ask for from my City Potters family, I left in 2020 to invest full-time in HandsOnCeramics, hoping to share this craft that had become so central to my life with whoever might resonate with it.
In the few years since, I’ve been awed at the words of support and appreciation I’ve received from those who have bought and enjoyed my work. Witnessing an inanimate lump of clay finding new life as a mug or bowl or vase has remained a thing of magic to me, and I treasure being able to spread a bit of that magic to the homes of those whose patronage has allowed me to grow as an independent tradesperson. Something made by hand shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, and with HandsOnCeramics, I’m proud to keep pottery’s unique blend of beauty and functionality an accessible way to brighten any room in life.