The juggle is real. Hear from mom, ceramicist, and jewelry designer, about her inspirations, frustrations, and successes as she manages to run a creative business while doing all the things.
Where are you from, and how did you get started in clay and jewelry?
I’m from Buffalo, NY originally and moved in Richmond, VA for high school before studying fine arts at VCU. I caught a love of ceramics in high school where my art teacher, Buddy Terrell, introduced us to advanced ceramic techniques like raku firing. Picture him with giant tongs and heavy duty oven mitts that went up to his shoulders, carrying red-hot pots from the 2000 degree kiln straight outside to the field hockey field where he plunged them into metal barrels filled with sawdust and newspaper to achieve that beautiful crazed effect. He was a wildly great teacher and I was mesmerized by clay. I lived in Brooklyn, NY for 10 years post college and had a mini kiln that would plug into a standard 120 outlet so I could fiddle around with clay in the evenings after my stressful job. The size of my kiln became the constraint for what I could make. Tiny sculptures turned into pendants and earrings that friends and family kindly gave me positive feedback on. I started selling my ceramic and mixed materials jewelry at local markets in 2014. The work spaces and kilns got bigger from there, fortunately.
How would you describe your style and who or what has influenced it?
I’m most influenced by traditional crafts from around the world, like basket weaving, ceramic design, and masks from Native American and African cultures. Looking at historic apparel and costuming from those groups is also really inspiring to me, particularly the way organic materials were utilized to create beadwork, tassels, etc. Lately, I've been very inspired by nature and plants, specifically the buds of plants and the metaphor of the beginning of the cycle of life. I think that inspiration comes from being a parent as that I’m living through that budding phase with two very small kids.
“Lately, I've been very inspired by nature and plants, specifically the buds of plants and the metaphor of the beginning of the cycle of life.”
Any specific inspiration behind your Mother’s Day line?
Working with a newborn in tow this year has influenced my work a lot. I constantly feel creatively inspired by motherhood and having small kids but find that the lack of time to bring those ideas to life can be quite frustrating. The juggle of working and being a present parent is tough. I need frequent reminders that maintaining a creative practice is how I want to show up in the world and it's how I want my daughters to know me.
I have a two-and-a-half-year-old who’s amazing but fully flexing her rainbow of emotions these days. Parenting is just plain overwhelming sometimes. The pieces in this collection feature symbols of water and air to represent the way we birth newness into this world - through breath and water - as reminders that even in the most stressful times, we have all the tools we need within us to get through to the other side of the tough moment. After every crashing wave there is a point where we can let our cork float for a moment.
“I need frequent reminders that maintaining a creative practice is how I want to show up in the world and it's how I want my daughters to know me.”
How do you balance being a full time artist, business owner, and momma, and how has becoming a parent changed your work?
I often feel like a clumsy clown in my juggle for that elusive balance. I drop balls every day but I’m completely grateful to my wonderful customers and for the privilege of doing creative work that I enjoy. I’m also so grateful for my mom who cares for my 8-month-old most of the week - not many people have that kind of support and I treasure her. My older daughter is in full-time daycare and it’s insane how much it costs, so keeping the business going is necessary for that alone — plus a lot of other practical reasons. But I continue to love it even though it requires more from me than I would want during this precious season of being a mother to small kids.
The pandemic years impacted my business significantly and I’m rebuilding, to be honest. Some days I work a full day, head home to hang with my kids and put them to bed, then come right back to the studio for a night shift. We don’t hear enough stories about the absolute schlep that is running a small business, especially doing it alongside parenting. It isn’t easy but it makes me feel more fully alive.
Any advice you would give a soon-to-be mom who is going to be performing the same balancing act?
Even though I didn’t make it sound super appealing just now (ha, sorry) — if there’s something within you calling to be brought out into the world, I think you have the right and responsibility to your soul to share it. Our kids deserve to see us doing what makes us fully alive because it gives them permission to go out and find that thing for themselves. Books and stories have nothing on seeing someone in real life doing the messy brave work of chasing a dream. I don’t mean to sound puffed up on my own pursuits here — I just feel passionate about seeing more people reach for things they feel excited about.
My daughter Rita’s name means pearl - it’s what I thought about a lot when I was pregnant with her. I want my kids to find their pearl in life: that thing that makes them excited, interested, and aligned with themselves. I think that if you keep going after what makes you feel more alive, your kids will probably be better people for it in one way or another.
“Our kids deserve to see us doing what makes us fully alive because it gives them permission to go out and find that thing for themselves.”
Do you have a goal or dream project?
I have a tile collaboration with my friends at Red Rock Tileworks in Nashville, which I have loved working on. It really delights me to see these pieces that were born in my studio living on in people’s homes. People cook and shower next to them! That’s so crazy to me. I would love to make more objects for the home, specifically lighting, drawer pulls, handles. I love to see weird stuff in peoples houses — less big box things and more pieces that were really touched and thought about. Handmade things bring a warming energy to a space and I think people realize that now more than ever, after living in their homes so intensely these past couple of years.