Plays In Mud Pottery

AS THE NAME OF HER BUSINESS IMPLIES, PLAYFULNESS IS A BIG PART OF KELSEY SCHISSEL’S WORK AS A POTTER.

This relationship is not too surprising. She was surrounded in childhood by craftspeople. Her father was a woodworker and blacksmith who regularly advised his daughter to “go play in the mud.” This no doubt allowed him to focus on less anxiety-inducing hammer swinging.

An introduction to throwing pots at age 11 led to art classes in high school, which led to a bachelor’s degree in ceramics from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, which led to Kelsey’s adult career creating functional works of art.

Being surrounded by the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains and living in the thriving arts town of Asheville, North Carolina, informs Kelsey’s work. Nature — especially flowers and leaves — inspire her to appreciate the patterns and relationships of the biological world. These physical manifestations of interlaced connection then find their way into her work. So gorgeously simple.

Kelsey has developed a two-color glaze technique — blue and green — that she is very meticulous and consistent with. There is a symmetry and recurrence that is reminiscent of the rhythmic, swirling lines found in Celtic decorative knots or Persian Kalamkari cotton block-prints to her work. It is a visual style that produces functional, yet opulent, pieces with a timeless simple aesthetic.

She thinks anyone who enjoys the “finer things in life” would be interested in her work and I think that her work would look lovely in any modern or rustic space. Would your mother feel special if you brought her home a beautiful one of a kind piece? I bet she would, and Mothers day is just the day to make her feel appreciated.

In between the meticulously crafted vases and opulent chargers Kelsey crafts what she calls Adventuring Owls. Each one is crafted by hand and completely unique. Her own little Adventuring Owls community has started and her friends, customers, and adventuring pals take photos of the owls left for others to enjoy placed along a path or tucked in the crook of a maple tree. Where would you place one? I can't wait to get my hands on a few and go on an adventure.


Like any working artist, her days are not spent simply being wildly creative. Making ceramic pottery is as much science as it is inspiration, with chemical reactions needing to be managed — usually via a trial-and-error learning process — in order for pieces to come out of the kiln with functional glazes and without unwanted bubbles.

Then there are the more prosaic aspects of any business operation, including equipment breaking down (a kiln is after all just a specialized oven), variations in raw materials that lead to issues during the firing process, and the realities of packing things up and traveling to craft shows. It helps that she has a supportive husband who handles her web page (another required task for the modern artisan).

Please visit Kelsey’s webpage to see samples of her work and art shows where you might be able to see her work in person. Or order an Adventuring Owl for yourself! ;)

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Heather Bunker works with makers and artisan entrepreneurs who want to build a professional and profitable brand.

She provides brand strategy, design, and marketing services along with a friendly disposition and a bit of encouragement. She has been a designer and art lover for over 15 years and is an active member of the AIGA, the professional association for design. Heather’s design trademark is her unique perspective and originality. For clients she delivers designs that capture both a unique brand image and the audience's attention. Spunky, bright, creative, and her blog is a joy to read. You can learn more about how her services can help grow your business by subscribing to her blog at HeatherBunker.com

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