We visited with Berkeley-based ceramist Rae Dunn for the February issue of Living. We had so much fun talking with Rae (and had more great photos of her work than we had room for in the magazine), that we thought we’d share a little more with you here:
How did you get involved in ceramics?
I never touched clay before my mid-30s. I was in Golden Gate Park and spotted a beautiful cobblestone building that was offering community art classes. I randomly signed up for ceramics.
What got you hooked?
I’m all about working with my hands. So as the graphic design industry, which I used to work in, slowly turned to computers, I lost interest. The moment I touched clay it took over my life.
How did you make a business out of it?
In the olden days, I had no website. I would just put plates in an old suitcase and pound the pavement selling to individual stores. I’m super shy, so it wasn’t easy!
What’s a typical day in the studio?
I don’t use an electric wheel. I’m elbow deep in clay, handbuilding and glazing. I usually fire each piece in the kiln 3 or 4 times. So it takes weeks to make one thing. I usually make 2 to 3 pieces for each order to make sure that one works out. There are so many variables in ceramics production—that’s the beauty and the beast of it.
You’re a one-woman show, right?
Since I have a line that’s manufactured elsewhere, I thought that for my handmade line, no one should touch the pieces but me. So I have no assistants, no shipping, no handling.
And now you’re a shop owner too.
I’ve always wanted to have own store. I sell products I love. My sister makes amazing jewelry; I’m also selling a women’s bike clothes line, some flea market items—anything I love and believe in.
What are your other passions?
I’ve played piano since age 4. I think we all need to do something that makes time stand still and nothing else matter. Piano does that for me. Also, my dog Wilma–I can’t imagine my life without her. And I love taking pictures of her, so she has her own blog.
What inspires you creatively?
I believe in wabi sabi—seeing beauty in imperfection. And a lot of ideas come from daily living—things I see in flea markets, old rusty tools. I’m just so in my own world, I don’t look at … what is that thing? Pinterest?
To learn more about Rae’s work, go to: http://www.raedunn.com and visit her at 927 Parker Street, Berkeley CA.
(photos: Laura Flippen)