A little story... About Potter Jennie Blair
My journey in clay began in my high school art room. No official pottery classes were offered, but my teacher introduced me to the kick wheels in the clay room. Rarely used, I played around after school in the art club. Senior year I spent every bit of free time recycling clay and trying to make pots.
As I entered college with the intent to be a graphic designer, I realized pretty quickly that computers were not where I wanted to use my hands! As a child I painted and drew, used brushes and pencils, folding origami. The studio arts were where I belonged. Junior year of college I took my first official pottery throwing class and a potter was born. I spent every waking moment in there as the studio tech making clay and glaze, cleaning, late nights making pots, and day long kiln firings.
Lucky enough to score two jobs working for potters while a student, I was exposed early on to life as a studio potter. I worked in production, taught classes, and worked my way around the studio from hosing down the studio floors to throwing pots for the LL BEAN catalog.
After college, I found an apprenticeship in Whitefish, Montana. I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, never leaving home. My move out west was a crazy spur of the moment journey to a whole new life!
The apprenticeship was a year-long position that couldn't have been more freeing. I arrived in September of 2000. We, my brother and I, left New Hamphsire driving I 90. Barely making it out of Wyoming, we lost the alternator of my two-tone red Chevy Blazer just crossing the Montana border. Several hundred dollars later and an 8-hour push north to Whitefish, we arrived. The crew at the studio was in the early stages of building a 40-foot Anagama named Agnes. It was my intro to kiln building, and with one wood firing under my belt during college with John Baymore, I knew I was where I belonged.
After my regular studio hours, I hunkered down in my cubby to throw into all hours of the night. The studio crew was my new family. And this was my new home.
After a year and a half spent in this little mountain town, an opportunity arose to move to Bozeman, 7 hours south. A hip, progressive ranching town. I spent the first several months unemployed for the first time in my life. I acquired a list of the Bozeman Potter's Guild and started to call everyone on it seeking out any opportunity I could to continue making pots.
I landed a job in a small production studio, Mountain Arts Pottery. I became his first full-time employee. I did anything needed; cleaning, glazing, handling, kiln loading, and my first fall there began throwing pots for his Yellowstone National Park order. A year into my new 'job' the owner bought a ragged log cabin that was transformed into a pottery showroom and bakery.
My job as a potter included stripping and power washing 3 layers of paint off the exterior of the cabin, tearing out insulation, and re-chinking the cabin interior. A little drywall too tested my dedication to my job. We built a new kiln and transformed the garage into a studio. Little by little, we built up his already productive studio to a studio with 5 employees, filling orders for wholesale accounts, retail shows, and catalogs. It was everything I needed to know I was ready for my own studio.