Hand-Carved Paint Palettes?

When Natasha and I started Sugarhouse Ceramic Co. we fully expected to solely focus on mugs, bowls, and the many other forms that are commonly associated with handmade pottery. But, as with most adventurous journeys in life, our pathway into the world of making pottery for a living had a few surprises up its sleeves. 

In the beginning it was all about mugs, slab built mugs to be more specific. We decided from the beginning that we wanted to primarily stick to building with slabs and slip-casting thrown forms, as we felt that it allowed us to be more consistent in our sizing. Plus this approach also allowed us to sit at the same table together while watching endless episodes of The Office and eating a wide variety of gummy candies.

In the beginning stages of Sugarhouse we were living in the woods of Vermont. We had just moved to Vermont from Seattle and didn’t really know anyone, and as many people know, it can be really hard to make friends as an adult. One day Natasha mentioned that she had connected with an artist named Lore Pemberton over Instagram and apparently she lived just down the road from us in a cute little house right next to a river. One afternoon Natasha drove over to meet Lore IRL & they had the loveliest time.

Photo by @lorepemberton

Then we got the families together as a group & hit it off right from the start. I was immediately impressed by how Lore was able to draw inspiration from her surroundings and capture it in beautiful paintings. At this time the four of us were all working hard and dreaming of the day when our art could actually support us. Our friendship continued to deepen and we would encourage each other along in our entrepreneurial dreams. But success didn’t happen over night for any of us and there were times where I wondered whether our business would ever support us. But the four of us always encouraged and helped each other. And one day Lore asked Natasha if she had ever considered making a ceramic paint palette. Natasha soon got to work and created the prototype for our Standard Palette by using an old insert from our small fridge as the original stencil for its rounded rectangular shape. A few weeks later Natasha gifted Lore our first ever hand carved standard paint palette and the rest, as they say, is history. 


Photo by @lorepemberton

Over the next few months our speckled standard paint palette became our most popular item online, and it finally allowed me to quit my side job, and just like that we were both full time potters. Various magazines began reaching out and our palette was soon featured in The Magnolia Journal, Frankie Magazine, and many other publications. And at this same time Lore’s Instagram account began taking off and her paintings and prints began to fully support her and her family. It felt very serendipitous that the four of us appeared to be experiencing business success around the same time, and all while living in the middle of the woods in Vermont. 

Today we still make slab mugs, but we’ve also added many other forms to our collection of handmade creations. Much of what we make today is handmade art supplies, in fact it’s quite possible that it makes up more than half of our business these days. We still hand carve our paint palettes by hand and it’s always so encouraging to hear from our customers how much they appreciate our pieces.

Photo by @leighellexson

We thought we were starting a pottery business, but now it seems that we’re also in the art supply business, but isn’t life usually that way? You just never know where your adventures will take you. 


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