After one semester of ceramics during my sophomore year of college, I learned a whole new respect for all handmade pottery. The sheer amount of time, skill, and love poured over each piece was something I’d never experienced before. From a mound of clay, wedged and formed by your own two hands into something with purpose; then on to days of waiting for your work to dry till you can then bisque fire, glaze, and fire again.
My amateur description depicts the simplest of processes, but imagine the in-depth and incredibly challenging methods you’d have down after 9 years of learning and perfecting the skills of the trade. Just ask Andrea Denniston. After she got a BFA in Ceramics at West Virginia University, she studied traditional Chinese porcelain and qinghua in China.
Andrea was able to soak up the culture and learn from the level of craftsmanship that surrounded her. It was in China that she fully appreciated that almost anything is possible in ceramics. Since then, she’s made it back to the US and is working towards a MFA in Ceramics at Syracuse University.
Andrea’s advice to any beginners in the field is to,
“Have fun, find your confidence, take some risks, travel as much as possible, and study under as many people as you can both in and out of an academic setting…take some business classes and immerse yourself in a community of like-minded makers. Be okay with having a second job for a while, but be willing to quit this second job when your time is better spent making and growing your business. As scary as it may seem at times, trust it is possible to support yourself through your work in clay!”