Dana Bechert Ceramics
Tell us about your business.As a small child I began working in clay with my potter mother. Later on at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) ceramics became a means for problem solving design issues in 3 dimensions. In 2010 I apprenticed with master potter Leslie Thompson to learn a particular style of surface decoration called sgraffito after the Acoma Pueblo Native American potters. Upon graduating in 2012 with a degree in interdisciplinary sculpture, I remained in Baltimore to begin my eponymous studio in 2014. In addition to ceramics I work in a variety of disciplines to create elegant and playful objects of utility. Alongside my studio practice I maintain an urban garden where I grow flowers, food crops and weeds and keep bees.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.Currently I am able to work in many different places. When the weather is nice I plug my wheel in outdoors and throw among the plants and bugs where I am happiest. The majority of my work time is spent carving the patterns, which I can literally do anywhere. I often will sit in the grass with a pot on my lap and carve for hours a day. I can also do this portion of the work alongside friends and family by the fire or cozied up in front of a movie. At first I was concerned about not having a distinct work space but I'm finding the flexibility to be really refreshing.
What inspires you?I think of my pots as a vehicle for enjoying the most beautiful and fundamental things; preparing and sharing food and drink, and nurturing and collecting plants. I'm proud to be able to add value in some way to these things.
What makes your business stand out?I think the pots themselves are what makes my business special. I started making work like this because I wanted to have it in my own life and I couldn't find anything quite like it on the market. I think that those who appreciate beautiful objects as I do, will find value in my business.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?Find something you love to do and can be proud of, and stick with it. Getting your work seen is very important but first making sure it's the best it can be is key. And don't get too tied to one thing, in the end everything informs everything else, so taking time to nurture your other interests is extremely valuable.
What does American Made mean to you?To me, American Made means a commitment to quality and an interest in getting back to a more thorough and traditional means of production. For me these things go hand in hand. I often will forage for local clays to use as pigments on my patterned pots. The technique and style I use is inspired by the Acoma Pueblo Native Americans, some of the first craftspeople in the country to be making beautiful things. My pots are made entirely with my own two hands, no computers, no stencils, and I think that gives them a vibrancy that cannot be achieved with our current mode of industrial production.
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