Happy Re:Make week! We’re wrapping up our Meet the Maker series presented by American Express with one of our favorite ceramic artists. Meet Jessica Wertz of Jessica Wertz Ceramics. She makes one-of-a-kind pottery pieces and fine porcelain jewelry in her Berkeley, CA studio. We’re talking colorful bowls and mugs, statement necklaces, earrings and more!
Oh, and she’ll be joining us THIS WEEKEND(!) at Re:Make (be sure to register for FREE here). That means you’ll be able to snag her gorgeous ceramics for yourself. Great news, right? Read on for Jessica’s story!
First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in central PA. I never had this aha! moment of realizing that I was an artist, creating has just always had the most gravity for me in this world. I’m a big dreamer and a bit of a work-horse. I am a head in the sky, feet on the ground kind of woman. I believe in my creative self and my ability to do whatever I choose. I’m also fantastically stubborn and believe I will do this wholeheartedly no matter what the odds and obstacles. I really love creating my life!
Why did you decide to start Jessica Wertz Ceramics?
I was born for a good challenge. I have always known I didn’t want to work for anyone else, it felt too confining and I knew I had a lot artistic gifts that needed to be used. After time in and out of college as a drawing + painting major, I found clay at Penn State University and finished my undergraduate degree in ceramics. That’s where I felt the switch turn on, I knew I wanted to make ceramics my livelihood. Self-expression, practicality and lofty goals happen to be me in a nutshell, I was made for this!
In five words or less, tell us why you love to make.
Creativity driven personal success.
What does the making process look like for you?
Messy! The stages of working in clay require you to show up, every day. I work when I want to and I work when I don’t want to. I work in multiples to be more productive. I create a “make list” for what I want in every kiln. The rhythm of working in clay is a beautiful thing. It teaches me patience because clay cannot be rushed without consequences.
What’s your favorite thing about making pottery?
It is a world of endless possibilities with clay. Nearly any piece that I can dream up can be made. It feels inexhaustible. I love the slow changes that occur through making batches of work. You think you’re working yourself into a rut until you have one idea that changes the whole body of work and (voila!) you recreate yourself.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Both my pottery and jewelry have close ties to the natural world. Growing up in the landscaping nurseries and spending a lot of time playing in the forests on my family’s land has given me a deep appreciation for plants. I lived in northern New Mexico for a brief time and was immensely impacted by pueblo pottery and historical pots such as Mimbres. After a while, you realize your work begins to mimic you. I am inspired by the honesty of that. But all of that aside, I get busy! Chuck Close said it best. I keep his quote floating in my head all of the time and live by it too. “Inspiration is for amateurs—ideas come from the working process.”
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
I advise you to keep being your creative amazing self, you are adding more to this world than all of us will ever know. Work Hard. Play Hard. Repeat.
Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do.
Technology has enabled me to connect with incredible people. It keeps me in touch with customers, coworkers and friends in a very vivid and immediate way. A special thanks to the exposure social media has allowed for!
What’s up next for you?
I have several shows before this year is through. I love doing craft shows because I connect to the people that feed and appreciate my work, and that motivates me. I also have a handful of commissions from the past few shows so that should keep me occupied for a bit. You know that feeling when something big is on the horizon but you have no clue what it is? I keep getting that. Maybe it’s just excitement. My sister and I are collaborating on a business to help entrepreneurial artists at the moment. We started two days ago, but she is a magician of many sorts so it shouldn’t take too long before we are up.If you want to see what it all looks like find me @JessicaWertzCeramics on Instagram!
Have you fallen in love with Jessica yet? Then don’t forget! She’ll be joining us at Re:Make in SF on September 13th. Stop by from 11am-6pm to snag a few (or more!) of her pieces!
This series is a collaboration with American Express. Visit the Shop Small® website to learn about how you can take part in Shop Small, a movement to celebrate small business.