I bought my first piece of Sarah Kersten pottery when I came across her work at the Remodelista market in San Francisco a few years ago. It was love at first sight! I bought a beautiful deep navy vase with a patina that drew me in completely. From that moment on, I was hooked. Sarah not only understands how to make a beautiful piece, she also creates work that functions well.
I decided to get serious by really focusing on Fermentation Jars. Making them was challenging for a number of reasons, but actually, I really like fermented foods. That helped me stay motivated. I made the jars by hand on the wheel for the first three years, which was lovely because I got to learn about my craft and explore my aesthetic with every piece. In Berkeley, people were looking for locally made fermentation jars, and they found me through word of mouth. Sandor Katz included me in the resource section of his book, The Art of Fermentation, and after that came out, sales became more steady. Eventually, I got a mold made of my Fermentation Jar, and increased production. After that happened, I was able to start working with stores.
I worked part time as a server while I was learning to make the jars, waiting tables on the weekend and making pottery during the week. Before I made the leap to full time, I took a course with Women’s Initiative for Self Employment, a great organization that sadly is no longer around.
I knew very little about having a business/brand when I started. I’ve learned from asking a lot of questions, and I’m still asking a lot of questions!!
I love seeing my work leave my studio, and I love knowing that people are going to use it.
Working with clay is remarkable and inherently rewarding. It is the experience of interacting with earth in a tactile way, with some transformative heat thrown into the mix. When the piece is finished, it’s a different material than it was during the process of the making. The piece becomes a record of the interaction, of the energy that created it. It’s very cool.
Needing to wear many hats, often on the same day, can be frustrating. I don’t switch gears quickly.
I also develop my work slowly, over time. A new glaze will sometimes take me months to perfect, and new pieces can take years to bring to production. We live in a fast world, and often I wonder how compatible my slow process is with that pace.
We have a really strong community of makers and small businesses here in the bay. It’s impossible to really make a list!! It would be so long. Jacob May Design and Marisa Mason Jewelry happen to be my neighbors, and I really appreciate what they do. I’m going to leave it at that.