Thoroughly Modern Maker

Ceramica Co. founder Hannah Hazel on pottery, running a business, and finding inspiration across Maine

Article by Becca Abramson

Photography by Tay Sikes Photo and Karlee Noyes Photography

Originally published in Portland City Lifestyle

How did you get into ceramics initially?

I was going to school for business but I needed an art elective, so I enrolled in a pottery class and felt like I was finally getting the hang of it at the end of the semester. It’s such a foreign art, and the only way to get better is to practice, so I went back to Portland Pottery and took another class. I started working as a studio tech mixing glazes, loading and unloading the kilns, and helping teach beginner classes. In exchange, I got to use their wheels and kilns and create my own stuff on the side. It was a really great way to get my foot in the door without having the huge overhead because ceramics can be a tough hobby to get into.

What does your current setup look like?

I slowly built out a home studio starting with a wheel that I bought a few months after working as a studio tech. I put it in a little room in my house and practiced throwing every day. I began selling my work at farmers markets and art walks, partly to make a little cash but also to see if it was something I could turn into a business. Eventually, I was able to save up enough for a kiln.

What does an average day look like for you?

I have several wholesale accounts, so I typically start by figuring out what orders I have to fulfill and how my inventory is looking. Once I assess what I need to make for the week, I’ll go down to my basement studio and weigh out pieces of clay, sit down at the wheel and throw for an hour or two, take a break and package some orders, load and unload the kiln, and grab more supplies at Portland Pottery. A typical day is usually filled with production, but there are lots of smaller tasks like taking new photos for my website, sending emails, and making deliveries.

Where do you find inspiration?

It’s kind of hard to pinpoint, but whenever I’m outside, in the woods, or hiking by the beach, I feel rejuvenated. It really helps me connect with the essence of the universe and the earth. Seeing different textures and exploring nature’s color palette is always super inspiring. I’m also inspired by the whole ceramics process, how it’s so intricate and precise with the sciences of the glazes and temperatures of firing the clay. It’s so cool to take a piece of mud from the ground and form it into a functional piece that someone can use every single day for years.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I’ve always leaned minimalist. I use a sandstone speckled clay that I think is so timeless, and the glazes I use are calm and modern shades of white and blush that can fit into any sort of home. My whole mindset behind ceramics is making them so that they can be used every day and be loved and cared for.

What do you love most about living and working in Maine?

I’m born and raised in Maine, and as I’ve gotten older, I feel more hometown pride. Maine is such an incredible place and people are finally becoming more aware of its beauty. It’s so cool to see people from different states coming in and seeing how incredible Portland is, how supportive it is of small businesses, and how many driven, talented people there are here doing their best. And then you walk just outside the city and you have the oceans, the mountains, skiing, lakes—everything you could ever need.

What’s next for you?

I’ve started to outgrow the home studio in my basement, and I really want a larger studio and retail shop where I can sell my pottery in person and offer one-on-one classes and workshops. Ceramics in particular is a medium that people need to see and feel—people like to pick up a mug and feel the handle and weight before committing to a purchase.

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