This week’s interview is with U.S.-based Hilary from Mcbeard Ceramics, who makes wonderful minimalist tableware (often with a speckled pattern which is just my favourite thing!)
And now I’ll hand over to Hilary to tell you some more about her shop and her life:
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I am the owner/maker/designer of Mcbeard Ceramics, a small handmade ceramic tableware company based in Colorado Springs, Colorado (USA).
How did you get started in your handmade business?
At first it was a side hustle to my full time work as a pastry chef, but when more and more orders began coming in I set up an official business.
What first made you want to become an artist/craftsperson?
My sisters and I loved doing arts and crafts as children, and my dad signed me up for my first real pottery class when I was about 12. There I made my first wheel thrown ceramics. Now I love the control and freedom having my own company provides.
Apart fom crafts, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Besided running my business, I am working on finishing my undergraduate degree in Russian language and culture. I’ve been studying Russian language for about 5-6 years, and it is slow going but I hope to speak fluently one day!
How long have you been creating art/crafts and how long have you been selling online?
My college ceramics instructor encouraged students to sell work right away, so I have been selling a bit for about six years. I opened my Etsy shop a few years ago, but then closed it for a couple of years. I re-opened last early Spring and have been busy since then. The new incarnation of my shop is much more professional!
How many different places do you sell from?
I have settled on just one location for now, besides my Etsy shop. Ladyfingers Letterpress is a stationery store and letterpress print shop in downtown Colorado Springs, owned and run by an amazing couple who moved from Providence, Rhode Island. They keep a small selection of my cups and mugs, among other products from unique small companies and their own greeting cards, and they have been totally ideal wholesale customers!
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
The first that comes to mind is a smooth walnut cutting board made by a friend of my boyfriend who was apprenticing at a local woodworker’s. Not only is it beautiful, but as a former pastry chef I really appreciate having one cutting board used only for fruit and chocolate!
Do you collect anything?
On a recent trip to Mexico we picked up a linocut featuring masked luchadores, and since we already have an oil painting of wrestlers, by our friend Cymon Padilla, I guess we now collect wrestler-themed fine art, haha.
What is your favourite part of your handmade business?
Designing a new collection of ceramics each season. It is so much fun honing what I make and coming up with a selection of pots that both look interesting as a group but that I also think will sell!
What are three tools in your workspace that you could not live without?
My best tool is a small wedging table my dad built when I set up the studio last Spring. The top is just big enough to wedge up clay balls from one bag of clay, and the shelf underneath holds all my other tools. Then my wheel: an old Creative Industries I got from someone selling it online, but that was the catalyst to me setting up my own workspace at home. And lastly, my little scrap of plastic bag used to smooth the rims of my pots. I hang onto the same scrap for much too long, and have in fact had this one since setting up at home last May!
What was the best holiday you’ve ever been on?
Travelling through Morocco with my boyfriend and his family, especially the Fez medina, the Atlas mountains, and Chefchaouen. Highlights were the copper craftsmen pounding copper in a tradition going back to the eighth century, orange vendors in Tangier, and the freshly cured olives and fresh green olive oil absolutely everywhere we went!
Any other handmade shops you’d like to recommend?
Two of my favorite local makers are The Universe Conspires and Light Provisions.