I’m always excited to introduce a new kind of shop on Ivy&Branch, and I couldn’t be happier to introduce Oak Leaf Pottery as the first ceramics shop on the blog. I first encountered Oak Leaf Pottery through my friend Sarah Collins (co-founder of Modern Forestry Candles–reread my post on them here). Sarah is good friends with Allison Gross, the potter behind Oak Leaf Pottery, and I had the chance to see Allison’s work at Modern Forestry’s “Forestry Friday” event in early April.
Allison began to fall in love with ceramics during college, and she graduated with a degree in art education. She taught art for several years, but when she and her husband moved to South Carolina three years ago, she began to think seriously about doing ceramics full-time. Today, she has her own home studio and runs Oak Leaf Pottery as her full time job.
While interviewing Allison, I was blown away by her powerful work ethic and the sheer magnitude of responsibilities she has day in and day out. Not only does Allison run Oak Leaf Pottery, but she’s also a stay-at-home mom for her eight-month-old son, Levi. Balancing work with motherhood is no small challenge, but Allison has managed to tend to both with dedication and lots of love. She works around Levi’s sleep schedule and manages her tasks with the help of her husband, Dan.
Despite the hectic aspect of being a full-time wife, mother, and working woman all at once, Allison expressed the serenity she experiences when creating pottery. Her favorite process is forming the clay on the wheel and shaping it into a piece that will be a functional and cherished ceramic in someone’s home.
“I think that people are drawn to pottery…each potter has their own style. No two potters are alike. People like to find their favorite style and then they sort of stick with you. Potters are earthy and welcoming and there’s a parallel between them and their work. It’s really important to have a connection with people.” -Allison Gross
While no two potters are the same, Allison also shared that, as a potter, you have to spend a lot of time brainstorming in order to create your own distinctive “look” in order to stand apart. After experimenting for a couple of years, Allison achieved the signature style that is iconic of Oak Leaf Pottery: by applying red iron oxide to white clay, Allison achieves a beautifully unique wood-like stain to her ceramics. Along with the characteristic stain, Allison loves to experiment with stamping and carving her works, another rustic detail that sets her work apart.
Allison makes multiple different pieces to sell, though some of her favorites include teapots and her lovable “fairy houses.” She also makes ceramic jewelry and does a lot of wholesale work, oftentimes throwing upwards of fifty mugs in one night. Allison is certainly an exceptionally hard-working woman, dedicated to both her art and her family. Follow Oak Leaf Pottery on Instagram and Facebook, and you’ll see for yourself the incredible drive of this family-run business, as well as the distinctive elegance of Allison’s ceramics.