Georgia Donnelly is an Upper Valley local who brings us into the life of a potter on Facebook, sharing videos of her throwing pottery, photos of sharing her workspace with her cat and kids, and letting us in on her newest creations. I love how she gives us a connection with the creator of the product we’re using. I also love the decorations: the flowers, color swirls, and style. Learn more about how she does it and what goes into the process of making her beautiful products.
You’ve been doing pottery for 20+ years, what are some of your proudest moments / accomplishments during that time?
I don’t think there’s anything specific, more like I guess I’m proud of myself for finding my “calling” and managing to make it my profession for the majority of my working career.
What are a few takeaways / lessons you’ve learned along the way?
Not to fall in love with anything until it’s completely finished. There’s always more to learn. And Patience.
How long does it take to make a mug? Which products take the longest?
Because I’ve been a production potter in the past, I spent a lot of years learning how to throw pretty quickly, I’ve learned how to streamline out all the unnecessary steps and make every move count. That being said I do spend a lot more time on each piece that I make these days compared to my work as a production potter. I pull all my handles individually, attach them, and then pull and shape them some more to fit that mug. The clay I use is a little finicky so I need to fire my kiln a bit slower than average. I put a lot into the decoration on each piece and tend to find that none are exactly the same, either in decoration or exact shape, so I take some time to make a decision on each mug of how I think it would look best. So to answer that question, it takes me about 6-8 weeks to make a batch of mugs and a few other items from start to finish.
What part of the process do the decorations go on?
Sometimes I’ll decorate right after it’s thrown, but most of the time I’ll decorate my work in the glazing stage, after the first firing and before the second, and when there’s gold and silver accents on a piece that’s done before the third firing.
What’s your favorite part about making pottery?
It used to be opening the kiln to see all my finished pieces, but now I really enjoy every part of the process.
What’s the trickiest part when making pottery? What is a common issue / trouble spot?
I think I’d have to say managing my time and keeping my studio organized, which is probably a common problem for most artists if not everyone I suppose. It’s like a time warp in there, I’ll step into my studio in the morning and before you know it my husband is asking me if I’m gonna take a break for dinner. Or sometimes it’ll be 1 or 2 am before I realize it.
What’s your top seller(s)?
I would have to say coffee mugs, it’s a potter’s bread and butter.
How do you properly care for your special ceramic kitchenware like a mug or plate?
All my functional pottery mugs, plates, bowls and bakeware are dishwasher safe, pieces with gold accents cannot go into the microwave, but everything else can.
Plans / hopes for the future?
My plan is to keep doing what I’m doing, I work at a comfortable pace, and have time to be creative with every batch of work, so I’m in a nice place right now.
Pottery classes after the pandemic? Virtual tutorials?
So I used to do a lot of teaching, at the league of New Hampshire Craftsmen and the R.W. Black Senior Center in Hanover. As well as quite a few places in New Jersey and Florida while I lived there, I’ve been approached to do a virtual workshop for an online pottery community, but for now I just keep my social media pages up to date and post lots of process videos. It’s fun to share in small snippets.
Tips for people wanting to try pottery?
I definitely recommend taking a pottery class, buying equipment and materials is a big investment and a good teacher is invaluable to have.
Recommended products to get started?
Aside from taking a class, you can buy a small amount of clay and play around to see how you like it.
Anything you want to share?
You can follow my journey on Instagram @georgia_the_potter and on Facebook @Georgia Donnelly Pottery and of course you can visit my Etsy store at donnellypottery.etsy.com.
Featured photo courtesy of Georgia Donnelly.
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