Change is a good thing.

Hey, Everyone! 
 

For the last 6 years, we have proudly been The Potter & Woodsmith. However, over the next months, things will be shifting in an exciting way and I wanted to reach out to let you know how and why. As an artist first and foremost, I feel it is important to dive deeper into my aesthetic and personal brand. In that spirit and in an effort to get back to the core of what started this little "side project" to begin with, we've decided to re-brand. 

In the weeks to come, we will become known as

Ritual Clay Company.

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The decision to re-brand is definitely not one that has come lightly and without a great deal of consideration. We know that doing such a thing is taking a risk. But we started this whole company on a big risk and because of your help, that risk has absolutely paid off. We've always considered our branding and web presence to be fairly decent. However, we're planning to transition into something much stronger and exciting than we've ever felt that we've had before and we really want you to get excited, too! We want to make sure we're notable and easily understood. When someone sees a piece of my pottery, I want there to be no mistaking where it came from.

Why Ritual Clay Company? 

When I first started thinking about a re-brand I knew that I wanted the name to strike right at the core of who I am as an artist. I wanted my brand to be an absolute reflection of who I am and why I create the functional art that I do. 

The interaction between someone who buys my pottery and how it makes them feel is why I'm driven each day to create.  I am deeply pulled by the hope of bringing people together through my work. There is one thing that is a common thread amongst everyone. Habit and ritual. Some people make themselves one peaceful cup of coffee in their favorite mug to start an otherwise hectic day. Others cook large Sunday dinners for their whole family and serve it up on a platter I had the honor of making. Regardless of how we ritualize, we do these things as an act of love and devotion to the people we cherish or things we deeply believe in.

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Each time I set out to make a new piece there's also a certain set of steps that I take towards a finished work that is a ritual all its own. Now, more than ever in my artistic practice, I am inspired by the things that connect us and the moments that allow us to celebrate the goodness of life. Whether big or small, Ritual is how we show the world who we are and what we love. 

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What will change? 

  • Our core inventory will be my handcrafted pottery. 

  • Woodcraft other items will become something we only offer on special occasions. 

  • Steve will still very much be apart of the company because I cannot do this without him. However, he's shifting roles to help me with our growing pottery demand and administrative tasks. It will also free him up to do more entrepreneurial projects that he has been nice enough to put off all these years in order to make wood items for P&W.
  • We will no longer carry art prints.
  • We will have a brand new website. 
  • We will offer Wedding Registries!
  •  Local pick up, consults, and shopping will get easier! We're currently building out a private entrance to our studio space that will have a tiny little retail-style front to it.It will be by appointment and availability only. 
  • The stamp on the bottom of each piece! It will now say Ritual Clay Co. 

What will stay the same? 

  • Handcrafted Pottery! Focusing only on clay items will give me a great opportunity to show all aspects of myself and my work to my customers who are demanding more! 
  • All of the popular pottery items we sell will stay and I will be able to produce more of the most coveted items.  I also have plans for more new items throughout the year based on supporter feedback. 
  • Our address will remain unchanged. I'm still working out of my home studio in Rochester, NY

I know that change can sometimes be scary, but I really hope you all embrace this new chapter with us! I promise to do my best not to disappoint! If you have any comments or thoughts please feel free to use the comments section and I will do my best to reply. If you're following us on Instagram, please sign up to get notifications. That will give you a step-by-step update of all the new changes as they unfold. 

Thanks so much for your support. 

- Sara:-)

 

 

 


 

 

We'll make the mugs... if you fill them. - Nurturing Hope for the Nations

 

I’ve recently discovered that when you tell people that you’re doing a fundraiser through your business you get A LOT of different reactions. Both positive and negative. The hardcore, business-minded seem to mention the toll and time it would take from regular, profitable production and advertising. Other people make you out to be some kind of saint for “helping”. I don’t buy into any of those philosophies. When I found out about Nurturing Hope for the Nations I knew I wanted to do something to be a small part of their mission.

Our family is diverse in opinions and lifestyles. However, there is one thing that every one of us had nurtured and instilled in us throughout the generations: you reach out and you help. My grandparents Cal & Jackie made that a foundation for our family’s life. No matter how much, or how little they had at any given time, there was not a holiday, or party, or an everyday moment when they didn’t welcome in anyone who needed them without a second thought. If a friend had nowhere to stay or needed a place to spend a holiday, Cal & Jackie were there. I remember times when the Thanksgiving table was a full two rooms in length to accommodate everyone that came to eat. My mom and her siblings tell me about how the bedrooms were always packed with anyone who needed a place to stay––everyone knew you could go to Cal & Jackie’s house. 

That mindset has been carried on through the people I love in many different forms and it is inherent. You help. Not because it makes you look good or you can benefit in some way but because it is the right thing to do. There was just simply no other way. My grandpa would probably now say something about how my Grandma gave him no other choice in the matter and we were all too loud. He's a humble man and certainly never one to ask for recognition for the way he always carried those around him. He is also right. One thing we’ve never been is shy to speak up. In this spirit, I want to tell you about the kids in Kibera, Kenya.

Video Courtesy of Nurturing Hope for the Nations - www.nurturinghopeforthenations.com

Kibera has 1.2 million people living in a 1.5-mile radius. Their homes are 12ft x 12ft shacks built with mud walls, a corrugated tin roof with a dirt or concrete floor. An average of 6 - 10 people live in each. Human excrement runs through the streets and the average life expectancy is 30. 

In Kibera, I would be an old lady. Can you even imagine what it must be like to be a 28 year old woman and feel like the majority of your life is over? 

And speaking of those young women whose lives have not even truly begun: they’re at risk most of all in Kibera. 66% of girls in Kibera routinely trade sex for food by the age of 16, many beginning as early as 6 years of age. It is a shear matter of survival. Ironically, that also puts them at grave risk of STI's/ HIV / AIDS. At any one time, about 50% of 16 to 25 yr old girls are pregnant. Abortions are common, without the supervision of trained medical professionals, and extremely dangerous.

The unemployment rate in Kibera is 50% and half the population is under the age of 15 years old.

Nurturing Hope's school gives children in Kibera daily relief from the hardships they face in Kiberan life. It gives them insight into life beyond the slums and food when they would otherwise have none. 

Here is where you come in: as you start planning for special life events to come, please consider a thoughtful gift with true meaning. Along with the help of our friends at Nurturing Hope, we've designed a truly special mug, one with a Kenyan spirit and a healthy dose of Potter & Woodsmith charm. The proceeds will go directly to helping the kids in Kibera. We want to inspire them; we want to let them know they have food waiting, education, and hope for their future. Our aim is that this mug will grace your coffee table, kitchen shelves, and counter tops for the years to come and become a favorite among your family. We also desire that it would be a declaration that these lives don’t go unnoticed or these sweet voices don’t go unheard.

Each mug will be numbered, unique, and a daily reminder of the help you gave. 

 
 

Here's how you help...

We've designed this limited edition mug for Nurturing Hope for the Nations.

They are an amazing non-profit providing daily food and education to children living in Kibera, Kenya.

Our hope is that this mug will be a beautiful way to give a meaningful holiday gift. 

All proceeds go directly to Nurturing Hope for the Nations. 

This mug is currently on pre-order from now through October 31st. 

Mugs will ship in early December just in time for holiday gift giving. 

*All photos in this blog post are courtesy of Magnolia & Magpie Photography Co. All rights reserved. 

Unlocking our muses...

Hey everyone, 

I have been talking with Steve for awhile now about how to bring relevant and interesting content from our everyday lives into our Potter & Woodsmith blog page. We really want everyone who visits our site and follows us to have an authentic and dynamic look into what drives our vision and inspiration. 

That being said, we're changing the way we structure and develop this section of our website. Along with a lot more studio posts, we're going to start talking about other hobbies, and areas of our life that both enrich and inspire our work. 

Those who know us personally, know how important our home environment is to us. We strongly believe in enriching the world around us and we do things everyday to help make that a reality in our lives and in the lives of those around us. When we aren't in the studio, it is very common for us to be renovating, decorating, gardening, antiquing, or striving for a more simple and natural home. We also love to travel and explore, even if it's just a local day trip. All of these muses immensely impact our functional art so It seems only natural to share them with you. Our hope is that this will help give you a more faceted idea of who we are and maybe even give you some fun ideas to try for yourself along the way.

We truly believe in the value of handcrafting as much of your life as possible. Whether by making it yourself or sourcing from an actual maker or artisan. We believe that new isn't always better, and keeping things simple and natural should be done as much as possible. We hope you all follow along as we explain exactly what that means for us. 

Cheers! 

Sara & Steve. 

The Look Back

 

When we started P&W nearly 4 years ago, our lives were much different. Reflecting back, It was probably the most challenging period of time we've yet encountered. We were isolated from our support system and frankly, pretty broke. But amid the rural lake landscape, we began sorting through everything that life had thrown at us. Then, something unexpected happened. We found ourselves. 

 View from the picture window of our old home & studio. I shot most of the product photos here. 

View from the picture window of our old home & studio. I shot most of the product photos here. 

We couldn't have imagined what the next years would bring. We worked hard, both professionally and personally. We tirelessly renovated our old house and studio. Some may have considered it to be a giant money pit. It was originally meant to be a B&B next to the grape fields that the Finger Lakes are globally known for. The property was big, beautiful, took up all of our free time, not so expendable income, and energy to restore and maintain. Detached from any real sense of community, we both developed a strong sense of self both independently as well as within our young marriage. 

 Canandaigua Lake as seen from our road. It was a hazy, but beautiful day. 

Canandaigua Lake as seen from our road. It was a hazy, but beautiful day. 

At a time with few options, we encouraged each other to focus on the dreams that we had prior believed only to be hobbies. These hobbies are what have since manifest into The Potter & Woodsmith. For that, we couldn't be more grateful for our past experiences. 

2016 brought many exciting changes and success. We have shifted over to selling both on our website, as well as with wholesale partners. We've relocated our entire business closer to Rochester, NY. We both have the studio and office space we desperately needed and don't spend our lives remodeling and repairing an old home. We will miss the views, hard work, and character that comes with an old home, but now we have the time to actually focus on what matters. 

 Back to work in my new pottery studio. Unbelievably happy that we could expand.

Back to work in my new pottery studio. Unbelievably happy that we could expand.

Now that we are settled in to the new space, we are working hard to get our web store stocked back up with many new and refined pieces. I feel like we are finally started to develop a very distinct and hopefully timeless style that we can't wait to share with you. Our goal is to be back and live well before Valentine's Day. I hope that you will all plan to visit the web store when that time comes. 

Along with the web store relaunch, we are planning to really amp up the content of our website in 2017. We feel like we have learned a lot since we started P&W and want to share it. We plan to do many more blog posts covering what we have learned about running a cottage industry business, tips about pottery and woodworking, our experience with wholesale, and more. We hope that you subscribe and join in with us. 

Every time that we sell one of our hand crafted pieces, we feel like our enthusiasts get a little piece of us. In that same spirit, we plan to make this blog a place where we share our experiences and our lives. Thank you for spending the last 4 years supporting our adventure. We cannot wait to continue in an even bigger way this new year.

 Working hard on new concepts exclusively for our web store. 

Working hard on new concepts exclusively for our web store. 

 

We're Moving & Expanding!

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Hi everyone, 

You may have noticed we have been a bit silent on social media the last few months. Big changes have been in the making. After exploring multiple different options, we have a solid direction forward. Now, we are reaching out to share our exciting news! After months of calculated decision making, we have made a leap to relocate and expand The Potter & Woodsmith. The overwhelming enthusiasm and support that we have received since P&W began in 2013 has left us begging for more production and packing space. That, paired with a very positive new (day) job for our Woodsmith, Steve has lead us closer to Rochester, NY. Our studios will still be located on our own property, but will be GIANT compared to our first space. You will still be able to access our goods through our website, Etsy, in-person markets, and our amazing retail partners. We have no current plans for a traditional "Brick and Mortar". However, if that changes in the future, you will certainly be the first to know! We know that this transition comes at a very busy time and many of you will be looking to purchase holiday gifts with us. Although Etsy and our web shop are currently closed to facilitate the move and wholesale orders, we encourage you to visit our in-person events and retail partner, Terrain as we work diligently to get our direct sales back up and running. Rest assured, that we will be fully operational and better than ever very shortly! We Thank you all so much for your support during this time of transition and can't wait to come back strong with new collections and features in 2017. For any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out. We would be happy to answer your questions. We are currently taking custom and wholesale order requests for an estimated January delivery. 

Thank you all so much, 

Sara & Steve

The Potter & Woodsmith

Once upon a Monday...

So much is happening very quickly around here. We're really excited about all of the changes. Along with our new website, today marks the first blog post ever for The Potter & Woodsmith! ( I hope we don't bore you too much! ) Also, last Monday marked the first day of an awesome ( and much needed ) studio renovation. I thought it would be fun to share with everyone the transformation as it unfolds. When we started P&W we really started from scratch. Our "studio" was our unheated garage. The winter months were almost unbearable in there. Not to mention the trouble I had with cracking and freezing orders. The good news? Last Monday, the garage door came down. 

 This was our "garage" door before we started. To say it was a garage wasn't really true. I doubt we could have fit anything larger than a Smart Car through this tiny thing.

This was our "garage" door before we started. To say it was a garage wasn't really true. I doubt we could have fit anything larger than a Smart Car through this tiny thing.

What will be put in it's place? We decided on a brand new private entrance and window with space for a pellet stove. It will keep us nice and toasty this winter! Needless to say, I'm pretty excited. Steve and I have been slowly renovating our 1900's home since we bought it 3 years ago. Luckily, along with his part-time gig as my Woodsmith in residence, Steve is also an Engineer who is also great at frame to finish construction. Actually, I'm starting to wonder if there is any project I can throw at him that he can't accomplish. So far, he's done an awesome job on everything! He has been working hard all week to get the new exterior of our studio done before the really cold NYS weather hits.

By last Wednesday, he had the new door, window and rough in done despite the difficultly of our crooked old farmhouse walls. At the end of Tuesday night, we realized that we would have to temporarily block the new entrance with some spare Tyvek and hope it didn't rain. The new, and perfectly square door was going to need a lot more finessing into our crooked old house before we could install it securely. 

 View from the inside of the studio space on Tuesday morning. I wasn't shocked to find that a squirrel had hidden some nuts in the studio overnight. They're definitely getting ready for winter too!

View from the inside of the studio space on Tuesday morning. I wasn't shocked to find that a squirrel had hidden some nuts in the studio overnight. They're definitely getting ready for winter too!

By Wednesday night, the door was installed and painted. I even hung a fall wreath on the door. Steve can barely get walls up before I start decorating them. I just can't help myself. That ugly piece of plywood is about to be hidden forever with stone. Wait until you see the stone system we found. It is going to save us so much time and doesn't require the mess of mortar. It is perfect for the little patch in that we needed for this project. 

 I have a fascination with black doors. I just love them. The enamel that I chose rolled on very smooth for a glossy mirror-like finish. ( Speaking of mirrors, please ignore my reflection in the new window. :-D ) 

I have a fascination with black doors. I just love them. The enamel that I chose rolled on very smooth for a glossy mirror-like finish. ( Speaking of mirrors, please ignore my reflection in the new window. :-D ) 

 These crazy things let you attach the stone using screws. No messing with mortar. It was really weird to screw in pieces of stone with the drill. 

These crazy things let you attach the stone using screws. No messing with mortar. It was really weird to screw in pieces of stone with the drill. 

 The new stone facade. The only thing left it trim! 

The new stone facade. The only thing left it trim! 

 I snuck in a photo of the view from the new studio door. It look so beautiful around here this time of year! If I ever like I'm forgetting to be grateful I look out at the amazing views we have in the beautiful area and immediately remember to be happy and appreciative for the everyday.  

I snuck in a photo of the view from the new studio door. It look so beautiful around here this time of year! If I ever like I'm forgetting to be grateful I look out at the amazing views we have in the beautiful area and immediately remember to be happy and appreciative for the everyday.  

That's what it looks like so far. I will be posting all the finished photos as we go! There will be a lot more to see about the inside of the studio too! I will finally be able to invite customers & friends over to pick up their orders in person. Or for a cup of coffee. :-)