PR Collaborators is a blog series highlighting hardworking individuals who help Portland Razor Co. be the best we can be. We consider the people and companies featured here to be integral to our success and hope our readers will show their support for these wonderful makers.
Several months ago we had the privilege of hosting local photographer and designer Connor Ebbinghouse at Portland Razor Co. Scrolling through his Instagram feed gives viewers a glimpse of Portland life and all the wonderful and interesting people we have the privilege of calling our neighbors. In browsing through Connor's beautiful galleries we came across one such neighbor, Sarah Wolf of Wolf Ceramics. We had been keeping our eyes open for the right collaborator to make shave dishes and scuttles for Portland Razor Co. and we were taken by the quality and aesthetic of Sarah's work immediately. We reached out to her and were delighted when she agreed to take on the project! As an added bonus, it's great to know that it is in fact possible to meet great people on the Internet!
Q: Tell our readers about your business. What do you do? What is your company story?
I started Wolf Ceramics about two years ago and shifted to working in my studio full time just over a year ago. Ceramics had been a hobby since grade school, but only a hobby. I studied Geochemistry in college and then almost went to graduate school for architecture. I kept coming back to clay because I love working with my hands and it is incredibly satisfying to make objects that will be well used. I decided to go back to school for ceramics instead of architecture and eventually chose to take the leap and start my own production studio. While gearing up to setup my own studio, I took part in a Mercy Corps small business program, taking business classes and participating in a matched savings grant program to help cover equipment costs. Now I spend my days in the studio and it is so fun. I am energized by exciting collaborations with other Portland businesses (Like Portland Razor Company!), which push me to try new things.
Q: Why Portland?
Portland is my home! I grew up here in Northwest Portland. I came back to Portland after leaving for 7 years, and now have a studio in the same building as my mother! She is an artist and has a painting studio just up the stairs from my work space.
Q: Is being in Portland important to you and your business? Why/why not?
Portland has been such a wonderful place for my business to grow, and for so many different reasons. Because I grew up here, I feel the support of my family and the community that a grew up with. But beyond that, the creative community in Portland is so welcoming, supportive, and collaborative. I am constantly meeting people who are doing interesting things and thinking of new ways that we can collaborate or work together in ways that are mutually beneficial. I have found the community of ceramic artists here to be kind and generous. The world of ceramics had also connected me with all sorts of other industries, from restaurants and coffee shops to florists and photographers.
Q: What sharp things do you use (knives, razors, axes, etc) at work?
What tools are your favorite to use? Trimming tools! After throwing on the wheel, we let work dry part way, and then flip it to trim and shape the bottom of the piece. I also use razor blades in the studio for all sorts of things, from cutting handles to the right size, to cleaning up glaze lines.
Q: Where do you look for inspiration?
I love textiles, in fact I may have a textile obsession. I also love drawing and playing with shapes and negative space. Sometimes I’ll peruse Instagram or Pinterest for patterns and shapes, start drawing, and just see where it takes me. I also love working from prompts. Sometimes a friend or business will come to me with a question or suggestion. Maybe they love a particular handle or wish that that their mug was different in some way. Maybe they need a particular tool and haven’t been able to find it anywhere. These sorts of conversations always get me thinking and often lead to new forms and new designs.
Q: We love your product. In your own words, what’s better about it than its big-box store competitors?
I find that I always enjoy using things more when I know where they came from and who made them. Its the same with coffee mugs as scuttle mugs. When I use a hand made object that I know was made with care, it often pushes me to be more thought full and intentional in what I am doing. I find my self taking more pleasure in the experience of using that object and even being more present in that moment.
Q: What is the most “Portland” thing to ever happen to you?
One day I found myself biking down the street along side a man on horseback.
Q: Do you straight shave? If not, would you consider it?
Nope, but maybe...
Q: What is one thing you wish more of your customers knew about you or your work?
I want to somehow show my customers more about the process that goes into making each piece. In fact, I have been working with a friend on a tiny short film that documents making one mug from start to finish! I think that ceramics often have a low perceived value, because you can go to Ikea and buy 10 perfectly matching, factory made mugs for $20 or $30. Its always a little nerve racking pricing new work, because I want things to be affordable and accessible to all sorts of people, but I also need to charge enough to make my business viable. When I know more about how something is made, and the complex challenges that the maker faces when creating it, I find my self feeling good about paying a fair price for the object and more inclined to treat it with care and make it last. I feel more inclined to own fewer, higher quality things.
Q:How can readers get in touch with you?
Check out my website wolfceramics.com or email me at sarah[at]wolfceramics.com!