Lauren Sumner Pottery – Imaginative Accents for the Home

Something I so enjoy about running this blog is seeing a medium or craft interpreted in drastically different ways by each different artist.  I follow several different ceramics shops, each with their own unique style, but Lauren Sumner Pottery has stood out again and again, which is why I’m so tickled that I had the chance to interview her about her beautiful ceramics.

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Lauren has so many fun shapes and details in her pottery, and I love the high gloss finish.

Lauren and ceramics have a history that goes back twenty years, though it was only in 2011 that she opened her Etsy shop.  In 2015, Lauren took the plunge to run her ceramics business full-time, and has been creating like crazy ever since.  Her origins as a graphic designer definitely translate in the polish and precision of her work–another feature that makes her ceramics stand out.

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It’s amazing the transformation that pottery undergoes, from the initial shaping and carving to the final touches.

Like any artist, Lauren had to experiment with different techniques, shapes, and ideas in order to find her own recognizable style.  Early on, she developed the idea for her Montsera leaf bowl–a signature that has stayed in the shop ever since and has set the tone for much of her work.  Lauren’s technique is time consuming in order to produce this stunning piece; by using a real Montsera leaf, Lauren molds her clay into a bowl shape and painstakingly carves out the unique leaf details.

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Lauren’s teardrop wall hangings are an eye-catching alternative to traditional frames or paintings.

The eye-popping glazes Lauren uses are as distinctive as her unique shapes.  Drawn towards deep greens, teals, and aquas, Lauren’s work definitely promotes a serene, almost tropical feel.  You won’t find anything plain-Jane at Lauren Sumner Pottery–along with her bright colors, Lauren is drawn toward fun details, such as her cat-shaped ring dishes or lace-patterned bowls and wall hangings.

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Lauren’s signature Montsera leaf look, made miniature for these darling ceramic necklaces.

When asked what her favorite piece is, Lauren had a true artist’s answer: “Whatever is newest!”  I love that answer, because I think it expresses the universal passion of a creative: we are always enamored by whatever is new, fresh, and expressive.  For Lauren, this means that she is particularly excited by the ceramic necklaces new to her shop.

Follow Lauren on Instagram and Facebook, and be sure to also check out her website and Etsy shop.  Whether you’re looking for a wall hanging, dish, or necklace, Lauren will definitely have something unique, beautiful, and stylish to offer.

 

Oak Leaf Pottery – The Elegance of Rusticware

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.

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I love the earthy tones on these mugs and plates–characteristic colors used in Allison’s work.

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.

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Dan and Allison Gross with their precious baby boy, Levi.

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

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These vases showcase the breathtaking “wood streaking” stain that Allison uses, not to mention the incredible carving and hints of color.

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.

Fairy houses

I can’t get over these precious “fairy houses” that Allison makes with leftover clay scraps. They would be adorable nestled in a backyard garden.

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.