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Meet the Potters: Stacy Snyder

Stacy Snyder is a regular participant at Pottery on the Hill, rarely missing a show. Her brightly colorful pots, often decorated with her trademark decal work, are among a crowd favorite year after year. And she’s practically our neighbor, working out of Arlington, Virginia. We’re thrilled Stacy will be participating in our virtual show this year and thought we’d get some more insight into what she’s been up to.

1. What drew you to be a potter?
I’m not exactly sure what drew me to be a potter. It wasn’t an immediate attraction – more like a slow seduction. I learned to throw on a wheel and did some work in clay in high school. When I enrolled in my first classes for my first semester in college at Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington, Indiana, there was a ceramics class open so I took it. I loved it and took another and then another. But, in the middle of that I became a studio assistant during the summers with Donna Polseno who was making slip cast work and figurative sculpture at the time. I ended up getting my BFA in Ceramics and Photography from IU and my thesis work was sculptural. After college an internship in photography in DC fell through, I moved back home to Blacksburg, Virginia and was offered some studio space in Silvie Granatelli’s studio. She offered to appoint me as a studio assistant for a Spring Concentration she was teaching at Penland School. Silvie’s class focused on making pots (as she is a functional potter) and she asked me to make pots to be a part of the class. I fell in love with making pots – the rhythm of it, the speed at which I could move through an idea and the idea that what I made had a direct use that could fit into every day life.

2. How have things changed since the pandemic outbreak?
When lock down first started in March, I felt a traumatized. National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, which was scheduled to be held in Virginia this year, and had several shows that I was involved in, were cancelled. My kids’ school was cancelled. It felt like the bottom dropped out, but it also felt like not much had changed – even though everything had changed. I have a home studio which is in a detached garage in my backyard and I always work alone – so that wasn’t different – but somehow it all felt different and so uncertain. For a few weeks, I didn’t do much in the studio and found comfort in binge watching shows with my kids (Why not? What was I in a hurry for?) and trying to piddle around the house doing some project or another. For some reason, and I’m not really sure where it came from – maybe it was starting to be spring and I began thinking about my garden – I decided to make big planters out of some boxes of red clay that had been sitting in my studio since I stopped using it about four years ago. It was something completely different and it got me out of a funk I had felt and back into the studio each day excited about what would come next. I made so many planters that I actually built a small flagstone patio this summer to put them on.

3. Have current events changed your work?
During the past two years, I have done a collaboration with a podcast about professional cycling called The Cycling Podcast by making cups for them to honor the three cycling grand tours (Giro d’ Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España). We raise money for charities that usually focus on supporting youth or community cycling. This year, even though most of the spring cycling season was cancelled or postponed, we still did the collaboration for the grand tour in Italy at the time in which it was supposed to take place and we raised money for a youth cycling school in Bergamo, Italy (which was the hardest hit by the pandemic in Italy). For the Tour de France, we raised money for charities that support an underprivileged youth cycling group in Toulouse, France and a group that supports putting more women on bikes.  

4. If you weren’t going to be a potter, what do you think you’d be doing?
I always love my geology classes in college. If I wasn’t making pottery I would love to be digging in the dirt somewhere looking for fossils.

5. What do you love about Pottery on the Hill?
The people. The people. The people. Being around great pots for an entire weekend. Did I mention the people (both the potters and the customers)?

6. What is your favorite piece of pottery that you’ve ever made?
Good question. I have to think about that. Maybe that’s a hard question to answer because I don’t have a favorite child or a favorite friend. How do you choose a favorite?

7. What’s the best thing about being a potter?
In short, everything. (I stole that line from the end of one of my favorite movies, “Almost Famous.”). Really, I do love everything about being a potter. I like the physicality of it, getting dirty, the rhythm of making, the way in which ideas can move from one form or one kind of decoration to another. I love knowing that the work I make will enter into someone’s life and touch them in a meaningful way by transforming drinking coffee or eating ice cream into a ritual. I read a quote recently, “Touch has a memory.” I think that pottery at its best captures that quote in every sense.

Join Stacy Snyder and 44 other top potters during Pottery on the Hill, November 13-15, 2020. This online show and sale opens at 5 pm on November 13. Learn more at PotteryontheHillDC.org.

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