The Fine Arts Department is a small but creative place on the Saint Joseph’s College campus; there, students bring their ideas to life through the medium of their choice. One of these students—Moira DesRosiers ’18—met with me and shared her plans to open a pottery studio after graduation. Moira showed me her current project—a series of mugs that she will sell at Coffee by Design, a roastery in Portland. She designed and prototyped the mugs as a project last semester. This spring, she is creating the mugs themselves and finding a market for her work.
Moira is currently doing an internship at C&M Ceramics, a pottery studio in Portland. She works directly with the two artists who own the business, Christine Caswell and Meg Walsh. As an intern, Moira’s everyday tasks span different stages in the pottery process, including: cleaning clay dust and keeping the studio clean, making and mixing the different glazes, and managing the inventory. Currently, C&M Ceramics is creating a series of plates for the New England Made trade show, a showcase of artists from all over the region. Moira is cleaning the unfinished plates, then painting them. The plates are then etched and loaded into the kiln, after which they are sanded, washed and glazed. Finally, she returns the plates to the kiln for another bake, then sands them to completion. This process is then repeated for every piece and takes about a month.
“The Arts program has allowed me to shape my own studies, one hundred percent. Both professors Scott Fuller and Chris Sullivan have been extremely helpful throughout my education by providing pointers and support.” Moira’s interest in pottery began when she took an art class at Saint Joseph’s. She “got hooked” on the medium at once and switched to a Fine Arts major. “I created my own brand of pieces and sold them at farmers’ markets and art walks.” These early forays into marketing sparked a desire to make and sell her own work. When it comes to entering the market, Moira said that “dishware is a natural marketplace object,” meaning that pottery can serve a functional use beyond surface appearance.
As for the medium itself, Moira said that “it’s finicky,” where success depends on a variety of factors during the creation process. She explained that “every block of clay is different and has its own personality, which means that you have to adjust your method of working with the clay every time. The best part of being a potter is that you’re creating something that is used by others for a long time.”
Her advice for fellow artists looking to invest in their craft as a career? Moira said that the cliché saying of ‘if you’re willing to put in the effort required, you can make it happen’ is true for any artist. She also mentioned a phrase from one of her classes where the professor would ask them every week what they had done to get closer to their “dream.” This process of setting a goal and sticking to it every week helped keep the students focused on their art.