Nature Inspires Unique Creations of Clayworks Pottery
Turning inspiration into art takes great talent, patience and dedication. Taking it one big step further and turning this creative impetus into a successful handmade business takes a further set of skills, as well as even more patience, dedication and courage.
Jodie Hames, owner of Clayworks Pottery in Bethany, ON, possessed the former cache of characteristics in abundance for most of her life. She later learned to develop the acumen necessary to create a handmade business – not just once, but twice.
Originally from Parry Sound on the shores of Georgian Bay, Hames began her own pottery business in a lush, forested landscape near the popular Killbear Provincial Park. After her husband’s career took him to the GTA, the family relocated to Bethany. This meant that Hames had to relocate Clayworks to a new region, which of course presented new challenges such as promoting her new retail space, getting to know her new customers tastes and keeping in contact with existing customers.
But through networking, hard work and new commissions, Clayworks has begun to thrive and prosper over the last six years since coming to the picturesque City of Kawartha Lakes hamlet.
“When I was up in the Parry Sound area, I started my own business in 1999 and it grew mostly from word of mouth and it did well. It also helped that I was from the area and already knew a lot of people. But when we moved here to Bethany it was hard to get going again. It was a slow start but the business is growing steadily.” said Hames.
“I have started doing some shows, such as Millbrook’s annual Ladies Night. I am on some artist studio tours, which can be an important marketing tool for promoting handmade businesses. A couple of years ago I invested in the blue highway tourist signs in the area, which have helped create awareness about the studio with tourists and locals. Since I have been putting myself out there more and having more people come to see the work, business has picked up. Pottery is very tactile. Most of my clientele want to see it in person and hold it in their hands.”
Of course, the products being sold must be good, and the unique bowls, goblets, dinnerware and more artistic, animal-based creations feature not only wonderfully crafted pottery but are delightfully decorative. The work is quirky, colourful and of superior craftsmanship, and each piece is one-of-a kind and demonstrates the excellence of her experience and the training she received in the Fine Arts program at Georgian College in Barrie.
“Nature is my primary inspiration. I do a lot of landscapes and flowers when I work with the clay. I take pride in creating textures in my work. Those textures are part of my artistic signature. I take just about any object I can find and imprint it into the clay to enhance the overall design. I create functional items such as mugs, bowls, and hanging lamps, but I also enjoy making wall hangings and garden ornaments. Clay as a medium allows me to jump around between practical and decorative pieces. I have always been able to work that way, so to be able to make a living in arts has been great. I haven’t wanted to mass produce, I prefer working on a smaller scale. Some days, I can just do whatever I feel inspired to do that day and see how people respond. The new little bees are turning into best sellers. They started through experimentation.” Hames explained.
“I do a lot of wall dragonflies. The bigger ones have been really popular. My sunflower and jack pine wall hangings are also popular. Although I am probably best known for the dragonflies. And I don’t really know why I like them so much, I just do. I think they are beautiful creatures.”
The area Clayworks is situated in gets a lot of tourist traffic, including a substantial amount of cultural tourism. Hames said she feels lucky that there are so many cultural, arts and economic development organizations in the Kawartha Lakes region, all of which are helping small businesses of all kinds, but particularly the arts-related enterprises.
“There is quite a bit of help down here with things like the Arts and Heritage Trail. Lots of groups are doing workshops and different things all the time. It’s a really good community, everybody is really trying to help everybody else. People here are very friendly” she said.
For more information on Clayworks Pottery, visit www.clayworkspottery.ca, or visit Hames in her studio Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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