Most recently I caught up with Mia Schachter, owner of Paperclip Pottery, who contacted me via Instagram. Mia runs Paperclip Pottery out of Brooklyn, NY. She has been doing wheel-thrown and hand-built pottery for several years around New York. In addition to being a potter, Mia is a playwright, theater director and performer. She got her Bachelors in Philosophy from Columbia and merges her interests in art, activism, neuroscience and theater through performance and crafts. Primarily interested in pottery as part of the Craftivism movement, Mia seeks to waste little material, energy and time and shares her perspective through her hands.
I loved her new Wake ‘n’ Bake pottery series, and wanted to find out more about her background, her love of pottery and what life is like in Brooklyn.
Tell us a little bit about your work & background – how did you get into pottery as an art form?
I started doing pottery about five years ago when I found a studio near my apartment. I had studied Philosophy and Visual Art in college and wanted to get my hands dirty. For my art history requirement I took Asian Art and I loved learning about the ceramics process, so I was sort of primed for it. I had a lot of time over the summer and signed up for a class. Needless to say, I got hooked.
Pottery has become something of an activist platform for me. I started to participate in the #freethenipple conversation with a sort of kitschy Instagram where friends and I pose topless with my pottery. I make sculptural vaginas out of discarded clay and I make sex toys, too. You can see these all on my website if you’re curious 🙂
What materials do you work with?
I work in two kinds of clay: porcelain and brown speckled clay. I used to use this black clay that kept breaking so I stopped using it. I’m about to start working with a gold lustre. It’s actual 14K gold that you paint on and do a third firing and it’s just stunning.
Where do you find inspiration in Brooklyn?
I find inspiration locally from ceramicists at my studio. It’s a collective space and we get to see each others’ work and share ideas. I see color palettes all around the city. My glaze inspirations often come from abstract painters whose work I admire. Lately it has been Agnes Martin, Robert Ryman, and Nicolas de Staël. I draw methodical line drawings onto my pieces drawing from Martin; I mix various blues because de Staël has a lot of abstract blue landscapes that I love; and I experiment with various whites and clears on white clay, inspired by Ryman’s minimalist white experiments. I recently curated a gallery show in Bushwick of DIY artists who do handmade work. I’ve lived in the area for a few years now and there’s a really exciting arts community here. It’s a very supportive group and we all try to find ways to collaborate.
What’s the story behind your ‘Wake & Bake’ sets? What are some of your favorite pieces?
I wish there were a good story! I was stoned and smoking out of a pipe I made and I realized I had a matching mug. I thought, “Oh how cute.” And then the idea struck that it would be so fucking classy to smoke and sip coffee from a matching set. The whole thing seemed almost too obvious.
I love the black Wake and Bake set in speckled clay. I also love the Agnes Martin inspired jar I did, with little ceramic spoons (below). I figured it was for sugar but a friend of mine just bought one to store his pot.
How do you incorporate cannabis into your life?
I smoke every few days and only at night. I love smoking but I don’t smoke everyday anymore because I get really sleepy. I’m a napper. The only exception to that is when I’m selling my work alongside my friend Dennis who smokes while we sell and I can’t turn it down. He makes awesome pro-black, pan-African, handmade embroideries. I make my own fudge which is delicious and I can take with me anywhere.
What are some of your favorite cannabis brands/services?
Cannibis isn’t exactly legal in New York City – it’s not like in Oregon or Colorado where you can walk into a store and buy it. I was recently in Portland and got a chocolate and a honey stick and those were fabulous. Tasty and potent. I have a tincture that I like, too. It kicks in pretty quickly but doesn’t last all day like a lot of edibles. My wrists, upper arms, and lower back take quite a beating from pottery and I really want to try a salve for the aches.
Can you send us a behind-the-scenes snap or a doodle from your studio?
If you live in Brooklyn, check out Mia’s page for upcoming events, craft fairs and more. Got something specific in mind that you’d LOVE to get made? Mia takes commissions, and you can contact her directly to chat about your vision.