The delicacy and strength in the hands of a potter is quite simply, stunning. As the wheel begins to spin, the potter must powerfully push against the clay, forming a symmetric and dense mound in the center of the wheel. But then the potter’s hands must shift from a position of strength to delicacy and precision, to guide the clay into its final form. I discovered I had too much strength and not enough delicacy when I visited Chris Carmicle, owner of Stone Petals Pottery, at her home in West Virginia where she let me try my hand at her wheel.
Chris fell in love with pottery when she took a pottery class while earning her degree in Chemical Engineering. Since then, Chris has been making pottery on and off for about twenty years. I asked Chris why she likes making pottery and she chuckled, saying that the wheel was hypnotizing. In times of stress, or just needing to find peace throughout the hustle and bustle of life as a working mother, Chris turns to making pottery.
The name of her business, Stone Petals Pottery, has an intriguing origin story. On the bottom of each of her creations is a stamped flower- her trademark. She has drawn that flower since she was in high school, inscribing it into friend’s yearbooks. And several years ago, Chris’ house caught fire. During this difficult phase in her life, a friend of Chris’ said “stones don’t become smooth in still water.” This quote developed into a mantra for Chris’ life, and eventually became the foundation of her small business. Interestingly enough, the kiln she uses to bake her clay rises to temperatures of 2,000 degrees. Something that once took her home now breathes life into her business.
Watching Chris shape the red clay was beautiful. She was so in tune with her art, and her joyful smile grew more animated as time passed. When she first placed a ball of clay on the wheel, I asked her what she was going to make. Chris laughed and said, “I never know what I’m going to make, the clay decides that!” It’s amazing how much effort it takes to create one piece of pottery, and there are so many things that can go wrong in the process that can ruin the pottery.
Regardless, Chris enjoys her craft, especially when she is charged to create a specialty item that she has never created before. Most of her pottery is created outside in her wooded yard or at the Parkersburg Arts Center, where she also teaches pottery classes. Not surprisingly, teaching children the art provides her with joy and satisfaction.
Stone Petals Pottery is sold exclusively at Wit & Whimzy and through the Stone Petals Pottery Facebook page.