Amy Brummond, the artist maker behind Pine Zen Pottery, makes unique handmade ceramics that are both functional and beautiful. She calls herself a “middle-aged clay enthusiast,” finding joy through creating art for the world. After being a stay-at-home mom for years and sending her kids off to school, Amy realized she had the freedom to reinvent herself. While she’s still a devoted mother, she also discovered a new identity within herself as an artist.
For Amy, having a midlife crisis didn’t mean going out to buy an expensive, flashy car or jet setting around the world. Instead of chasing after material things, Amy looked within for the answers. Since she had so much free time on her hands, she didn’t quite know how to spend it. After going through a spiritual awakening, she suddenly found herself “smack dab in the middle of the clay life.”
“About five years ago, my youngest son started kindergarten, so suddenly, I was like, “Huh, what do I really want to do?” Amy says. “So, I got a kick wheel and a kiln and set up a studio, and it’s a gorgeous space. I have no formal training in clay, and I have totally given up working on the wheel even though that’s how I started. I am a hand builder – I work with flat slabs and I turn them into vessels of all sorts.”
While she’s self-taught, she also learned a great deal from other potters who shared their knowledge in videos or books. She gathered as much information from them as she could and allowed her creative juices to guide the rest of her journey.
Learning all the ropes about pottery doesn’t happen overnight; it’s an ongoing, lifelong process. However, Amy doesn’t let that discourage her, and goes by the famous quote attributed to Ishi (aka “the last Indian”): “always be more curious than afraid.”
Amy’s handmade ceramics serve a purpose in everyday life
From coffee mugs to ramen bowls, Amy’s got all the bases covered when it comes to pottery. She also creates plates, pint glasses, flower vases, and more! The inspiration behind her work comes from the idea of “making the world a bit smaller.” In our fast-paced lives, we often don’t get a chance to slow down and really connect with our loved ones. Amy hopes her pieces will encourage her customers to become more present at mealtimes or while sipping their morning coffee.
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On her website, she says: “I want the pots I make to become integral parts of our lives—offering moments of presence and connection—over a shared meal or a cup of tea. The objects we surround ourselves with should spark joy whether sitting on the shelf or in daily use.”
As a society, we’re naturally attracted to beautiful things. However, in our quest to obtain the latest shiny item, we’ve done quite a number on Mother Earth, unfortunately. Amy’s handmade ceramics aim to serve humanity’s needs while being kind to the planet as well. Her pottery will last for many years and is even dishwasher and microwave safe.
According to her website, here’s how she makes the beautiful ceramics: “I utilize layers of pattern and color to create functional wares that I hope will become modern heirlooms. My inspirations range from vintage fabrics and mid-century modern patterns to fashion and the natural world.
“Each pot starts as a flat slab of red stoneware clay that transforms into a blank canvas once painted with porcelain slip. I like to layer on different patterns and color through tinted slips, ceramic transfers and screen prints—creating a visually interesting surface that is playful and invites you to touch.”
Amy believes we all have a creative side untapped within us
As the quote says, “Earth without art with just be ‘eh.’” When Amy looked deep within, she realized she had a lot left to contribute to the world. Creating handmade ceramics gives her a new way of relating to herself and others, making her feel more whole. She continues to explore innovative and unique prints and molds that will facilitate her growth.
“One of my favorite things that inspires me and keeps me going, is to see where the evolution of ideas take me. Because you might start one place and with one idea and then all kinds of rabbit holes open up,” she says.
“I really believe that we all have a creative spark inside of us, and it’s just a matter of finding the medium that excites you and ignites that spark. But, I think we’re all very creative and I would encourage someone to just realize that you have creativity inside of you, waiting to come out.”
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Amy’s journey has taken her on a wild ride the last four or five years. What started as just a hobby transformed into a small business that truly feeds her soul. While she works solo, she utilizes other art forms to keep her engaged while creating the handmade ceramics.
“There are so many tools; of course, I can’t live without clay, I can’t live without all my shaping tools. But my phone is really integral to my creative business – I make a lot of process videos. I also can’t live without music and podcasts. I have a home studio, so sometimes that can feel very isolating, I think I use the podcasts and the music to feel connected and have some company in the studio,” she says.
Final thoughts on the artist who creates functional, beautiful handmade ceramics
There’s something about sipping your morning coffee in a clay mug that makes you look at the world with new eyes. It connects you to the Earth and yourself in a much deeper way. That’s what Amy hoped people would find through her art – a new appreciation for a slower, more eco friendly lifestyle.
While all of her handmade ceramics are currently sold out, keep checking back for new updates! I think we all could use one of these coffee mugs right about now.