I threw my first pot when I was 26. I was just looking for a hobby, and never dreamed it would lead to becoming a professional potter. I took my first class at the Ann Arbor Art Association while studying other things at the University of Michigan. Then I started selling pots about 5 years later, and by 1995 was making a living as a potter. I was the very worst one in my beginning wheel-throwing class, but I didn’t care because it was great fun and I loved it.
I moved to Minneapolis in 1993 to begin a graduate program in another field, but took classes at the Northern Clay Center to continue on with my hobby. It was there, for an intermediate wheel-throwing class, that I made a few tabletop fountains. They were a big hit with the other students in the class and the classes around us. So I decided I’d make a few and take them to an art fair to see how they did. I took 25 fountains and sold them all. That’s when I knew I was onto something. I started making water fountains as fast as I could and they sold well for several years. By 2000, the fountain craze had died down, so I had to shrink my business too. Luckily, by that time, I’d made thousands of fountains so I’d become a much better potter. I set out to grow my business back up, and have been expanding steadily ever since.
As Dock 6 Pottery has grown over the years, I’ve had to evolve into a business manager and not just a potter. Interestingly, however, this same growth has actually made me a better potter. As time for creating has become more precious, my priorities for what I want to make have distilled and clarified. I take more time to think, sketch, and prepare for what I want to make so that every minute I have at my wheel counts.
Seeing someone use something I made is the best feeling in the world. Making beautiful things people will use everyday is what inspires me the most and drives me to make new things. I think of every cup, plate, and coaster as a small piece of functional art. Bringing affordable art to everyday people is what keeps me motivated and makes my soul happy.
The Dock 6 Pottery Family
In traditional terms, Dock 6 Pottery stands out because of the popularity of our unique designs combining fused glass and pottery to evoke a sensation of the natural world. But what really sustains us over the long term, and makes Dock 6 stand out more broadly, is a commitment to my employees and the local arts community. I hire artists and creative people of all kinds. My employees not only include potters, but also musicians, actors, photographers, jewelers, fashion designers, glass blowers, painters, and graphic designers. I encourage and support my employees in chasing their personal dreams, and they bring that creativity and energy back to their jobs. That energy shows in the quality of the work.
Over the years, I have found that engaged and knowledgeable employees produce the highest quality product. With that insight, I make sure all employees get trained in every stage of the process so they can see how each part fits into the larger whole. This contributes to higher overall job satisfaction, making the working environment a better place for everyone.
Dock 6 Pottery is a fun, fast-paced, and lively place. Ok, it’s also hot, dusty, and noisy sometimes, but that’s just part of being a successful, productive studio. Mostly it’s filled with great, hard-working, creative people who give their all because they’re committed to me, the company, and the product we make.
The Origins of Our Name
Where’s the boat? No, it’s not that kind of dock. When Dock 6 Pottery started in 1995, we were a collective of four potters looking to share space and expenses. Our first location was in a building with a long strip of loading docks and you had to enter through loading dock number 6 in order to reach our studio. We have moved many times since & the original potters have gone their separate ways, but the name has stuck.