Locals + Culture

Meet The Maker | Jennie

6/13/2024 | Jennie Bradford | Cody Derrick
Lauren Kerr

I'll tell you what brings me joy. Seeing friends make things. Art, poems, furniture, music. All of it. And when those things are made with love and intention, well, it's what we live for here at cityhome. Objects made by the actual hands of breathing artists, come infused with the maker's soul-force. Good news for us, Jennie has found calm in the process of creation. And we can feel it in these goods! Nice work Jennie. And thank you. Lucky for us, she has made a small batch of beautiful black incense holders for us and our peeps. That's you. And yours. Come and feel these for yourself, if you wanna. And what better way to remind and encourage us to bring cleansing scents into our homes than by having a handmade incense homie asking for a light everyday. Thank you vibe holder. And thank you Jennie. To the makers! (Mark your calendar for next week Friday June 21st, 10:00-1:00 to meet the maker, and handle an incense holder. Two sizes offered at 33.00 and 55.00). Now, a few words between myself and Jennie. 

How did this all start? 

Last June, Dax (my husband) and I were walking through 9th and 9th, stopping at some of our favorite little spaces. We decided to walk a little further up the hill toward The Whale. I noticed this gorgeous space with huge windows, lots of plants, and many shelves. I saw a group of people throwing pots on wheels and started reminiscing, telling Dax about how I used to take pottery 20 years ago in high school. I used to take my parents to the studio on Friday nights to show them all the things I was making, and I even helped my dad make a little piece. I felt like a light broke open inside my chest. We kept walking, and I kept thinking about the studio. I signed up for my first class in July ‘23, and I don’t think I’ve missed a week at the studio since.

What are you getting out of this? How about other folks in your life, any hopeful benefits? 

A few months after I started classes at the studio, I was working there alone. No classes were happening, and no studio members were around. I was getting a bit frustrated with centering a piece of clay. I would think it was centered, then I’d take my hands off, and it would be off-center. I remember my second teacher at the studio, Nicole, talking about how she cried during her first college ceramics class. In that moment of feeling like I wouldn’t be able to get this piece centered, I felt like I was going to cry. A flood of emotions started showing up; so many things in life at that time felt big and out of my control. Here was this ball of clay, so small, yet also feeling out of control. Maybe it was my higher self or the voices of thousands of potters before me, but I had a thought: “I’m moving the clay, the clay isn’t moving me.” It felt so profound and so simple. This mantra has threaded itself into other areas of my life.

As winter rolled around, I had reached the point in my throwing where I was just holding onto pieces I’d made simply because I’d made them, and it felt like it was time to grow more. I took a class from an amazing teacher at the studio, Anna, and she had us throw a piece as fast as we could. My piece was... fine. It wasn’t great, and as I was getting ready to cut it off the wheel and save it for the next step, she asked, “Why are you keeping it? Don’t be too precious about the things you’re making now. You can always make it again. And probably make it better.” This was a huge lightbulb moment for me; Don’t hold onto things that aren’t up to the standards I want for myself and my life.

Talk to us about the materials. the why and the what? 

Black clay is both stunning and temperamental. Glazes react to it in the most unpredictable ways. But not only that, if you push this clay too hard or too fast, it’ll split or collapse. Pulling too fast can have disastrous results. It became a reminder to move at the right pace. Some clays are more forgiving, and some clays are even more particular. That’s not a bad thing; it’s just different. Some clays work better for certain things—they have qualities that other clays don’t. And again, it’s not bad. It’s just knowing when to use which clay for which project/piece. I think that’s a beautiful metaphor for life. As we change and grow, we realize we may be inept at certain things and really thrive at other things. Sometimes we’re put in situations where it’s likely we’ll fail, but sometimes that failure can be beautiful. It’s about learning our strengths and accepting our shortcomings.

Your pieces and process is very homie. tell us more. 

A simple act of lighting incense to clear your mind, clear your home, and bring yourself to the present moment can be so healing. Sharing in that act of self-care feels sacred in a way. It’s a reminder that self-care doesn’t need to be a grand expression; it’s in the small things we do throughout our lives that add up to a big shift in how we feel about ourselves.

I wanted to make pieces that are functional and beautiful. The struggle to strike that balance has been a lesson in approaching this art very consciously. There are definitely days when the clay just becomes whatever it wants to be. And other days where it’s a dance. When I’ve made a piece that really embodies that sense of beauty and function, I’ve created something that can help someone find joy. A vessel for sharing a drink with a friend, bringing soup to a loved one, or lighting incense for themselves—all of those things, in essence, are self-care.

Any final thoughts for us?

Rituals, especially self-care, inherently come with intention. Handmade objects are intentional in so many ways: they are unique, one-of-a-kind, with fingerprints from the maker and a story. They are not just machined, manufactured goods. They have been part of the human experience.

When someone buys one of my pieces, they take a part of my home, mind, hands, and community with them. It’s a small reminder that self-care doesn't need to be grand; it's in the small daily actions that collectively transform how we feel.

Enough said. 

for jennie's studio tour and product details, click here

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