Today we have the privilege of interviewing Barbarah Robertson, a well-known potter of the Shenandoah Valley. We hope you’ll appreciate Barbarah’s passion for creating useable pottery with an artistic view. We love her pottery and we think you will too!
Enjoy the interview! and remember to show your appreciation to local artists by engaging them on FaceBook, Twitter, Etsy, or simply by dropping them an email to let them know how much you love their work.
Artist: Barbarah Robertson
City/State: Strasburg, VA
City/State: Strasburg, VA
Can you tell us a bit about where you’re from, where you’ve lived, and where you’re currently residing?
“Born and raised in Alexandria Virginia, I lived in the DC Metro area until 1994 when I moved to the Shenandoah Valley permanently. I now live in Strasburg, Virginia “Pot Town” where I maintain a residence and studio.”
What type of artwork do you create?
“I make wheel thrown and hand built stoneware and porcelain pottery with a focus on functional ware for cooking, table and garden. I occasionally make decorative pieces but have a stronger desire to know my pots are being used in day to day life rather than collecting dust on a shelf somewhere.”
How long have you been an artist?
“Since I could hold a crayon.. but I've been a potter since 1994 when I fell into a pottery class due to needing a 3 credit humanities elective to transfer back to my college in northern Virginia. Pottery was not the plan, it was the calling that grabbed me and never let go.”
Where do your artistic ability come from?
“I think that hard work & flexibility rather than “talent” is what affects the outcome of my pieces.”
What inspires your work?
“My inspiration comes from a strong desire to have a tangible asset at the end of my working day. Numbers on paper will never equal the satisfaction of turning to cut off the light to the studio and looking down upon a room full of actual “things”. Not just any “things” but pieces that I know are hearty, functional works that will fill the cabinets of a family home for a lifetime. Wen I think of family dinners from childhood, I remember certain pots and pans, my Mother's favorite cup, beat up utensils and handed down dishes, all old, all made in the USA. Those “things” bring a certain comfort to our lives & memories that cheap modern plastic “made in china” goodies just can't bring. I find it extremely important and satisfying to be continuing the tradition of true American craftsmanship.”
Where do you create most of your work? At home, in a studio, outdoors?
“I maintain a studio here in my home in Strasburg, Virginia. It is a constant evolving mess.”
How many hours a day/week do you spend creating your artwork?
“I spend 4-12 hours per day in the actual studio working, there are too many variables in pottery to maintain an exact hourly schedule. I also spend a couple hours a day doing photos, photo editing, marketing, networking, online sales etc. Unfortunately it's not ALL about the clay. There's also a large amount of time that goes into customer orders, drawing up sketches for clients or new pottery ideas and inventory control.“
When you “hit the wall” per say, how do you re-inspire your creativity?
“I often will surf the web in search of photos of old pottery to give me ideas, then I figure out a way to make that shape “new” again. I also pull inspiration from plants, large gardens and tablescapes. Sometimes I'll watch a video of another potter or two making pots and it gives me a good kickstart! “
Can you tell us about your favorite piece of artwork that you’ve created?
“I made a large outdoor garden tile with my teacher/mentor about 14 years ago...I refuse to sell it.”
Where do you currently display and/or sell your artwork?
All Things Virginia – Harrisonburg, VA
Edinburg Gallery – Edinburg, VA
7East Gallery – Woodstock, VA
Epearls – Strasburg, VA
Cristina's Cafe – Strasburg, VA
Hupps Hill Visitors Center – Strasburg, VA
Mountain Mystic Trading Co. - Front Royal, VA
Earth Works Gallery – Front Royal, VA
Coming soon to..
Shenandoah Treasures – Stephens City, VA
The Harvest Moon Shoppes – Winchester, VA
What type of music do you listen to? What’s your favorite band or song?
“A little bit of everything but here are a couple favorites...Pink Floyd, Daft Punk, Punch Brothers, Hamza El Din, Gaelic Storm, Tinariwen, and a lot of classical”
What are your other hobbies or interests?
“I'm a hard core gamer, starting with my first Pong unit in 1978 and leading to an addiction to Arcades as a kid :) ”
Are you a full time artist or is this more of a passion for you?
“I am a full time potter & make jewelry on the side as more of a creative hobby.”
Can you tell us a bit about your day job?
“I clean the studio, prep clay, then make pots.
Clean the studio again, then wax and glaze pots.
Load and unload kilns, clean the studio some more,
Break lots of nails, and wear lots of stained clothes :)”
Where would you like your artwork to take you in life?
“I'm pretty much where I'd like to be. Through my work, I've become more aware of my community and try to stay involved with teaching and local charities. Being a full time potter allows me to be home for my family and do a job that satisfies my need to be productive and creative.”
What has been your most rewarding experience related to your artwork?
“I am pleased every time someone picks up one of my pieces, hugs it to themselves and smiles.
It's at that moment that I know that piece will become part of their family traditions for (hopefully) generations. It will serve them, nourish them, and become a part of their family experience.
That's enough reward for me.”