Mudtown Pottery: Forming a Human Connection

We are pleased to partner with Beth Smith, the artist behind the beautiful work that is Mudtown Pottery, for this year’s Give Thanks fundraiser. Beth invited us into her studio for a photo essay and took a break from her busy schedule to answer some questions.

ASF: What does Thankfulness mean to you?

Beth Smith: That’s a great question!  Living a life of thankfulness looks different to different people, but to me it means noticing the little ordinary, everyday things.  I think when you notice those details, you develop a sense of wonder and curiosity about life – which in turn generates a thankful heart. 

ASF: What sort of connection do you want people who use your pottery to have with the piece?

Beth Smith: That is such a great question because it has a lot to do with why I am drawn to the craft.  I have always loved pottery, even before I started making it, because there is something so organic about it.  The potter’s hands formed the vessel that others now use in their everyday life – their morning coffee ritual or their evening meal. It’s such a sweet relationship between maker and user – a human connection. It means a lot to me, it really does, when people tell me that they use my pottery – I hate to think of it sitting on a shelf collecting dust! 

ASF: What is your favorite part of the pottery process?

Beth Smith: Forming, for sure! I love the wheel and while that is my preferred method of forming, lately I have been doing more hand building and I like that too.   I love the feel of the clay in all its stages – it is such a tactile craft.  But I would have to say forming it in its wettest stage and trimming at the leather hard stage are my favorite parts of the process.

ASF: What does pottery/making mean to you?

Beth Smith: I came to pottery later in life, after my four children had grown and gone off to find their own lives so it has been an opportunity for me to get comfortable in the position of being a learner.  Believe me, pottery is an extremely humbling teacher! I guess I’ll never quit learning all there is to know about it. Learning something new, especially later in life, has brought a freshness and an excitement to my life that I’m very grateful to have. 

ASF: Why have you chosen to partner with ASF?

Beth Smith: I have worked in higher ed for almost 20 years and I know the impact an organization like ASF can have on the life of a student.  Students are in a unique phase of life where they have the time and energy to be involved with lots of activities.  They can learn and grow through getting involved with something larger than themselves and I think ASF offers a wonderful opportunity for them to do that.

Thank you, Beth, for taking the time to share your process with us. Look for Beth’s pie plates and coffee cups in our Give Thanks packages this year. If you want to see where you can buy her work locally, click here.