While the first two artists featured in my Meet the Midwest series entered my life after college, this month's artist has had a special place in my heart since I was an itty bitty freshman in high school. I've always known Rachel Alwin of Rachel Alwin Small Batch Ceramics as a creative person who literally had her hands in a new project at all times. Now the owner of her own small batch pottery business and wife to photographer Seth Alwin of Seth Alwin Photo Works, I see that her creativity and curiosity continue to grow in her life both personally and professionally.
Rachel's work is reflective of her soft, natural spirit. The care she puts into each ceramic is the same I witnessed as her friend throughout high school. I'm honored to have Rachel as my August Meet the Midwest artist and can't wait for you all to experience what I love about her with the Q&A below.
1. WHERE DID YOUR PASSION FOR POTTERY & CERAMICS BEGIN?
My mom is a potter, so I've been around clay my entire life. It wasn't until college though, that I had an overwhelming desire to learn her skill. Separated by a few states, I made the trip to my mom's and spent the next few days with her in her studio, throwing morning and night. I couldn't get enough. Two weeks later, a pottery wheel showed up on my front step. Thanks, mom. I owe it all to you.
2. Describe your ceramics' aesthetic in three words.
Organic, minimal, useful
3. How has the Midwest influenced your art?
The Midwest seems like the forgotten beauty. We all agree the coasts are gorgeous, and the mountains and deserts have a thrill of their own, but the Midwest seems to be disregarded. Those of us who live in the Midwest, though, know that is so wrong. There's a beauty here that is all our own. The same is true for clay. Paint looks pretty. Fabric feels special. But clay? Clay is brown and messy and to the untrained eye, doesn't appear to have potential. I see so much more.
Seth Alwin Photo Works (www.sethalwin.com)
4. What are three things essential to your work space? Your makeup bag?
My workspace: Josh Garrels music, my favorite wood tool, and ready hands
My makeup bag: Aveda PureFume, nail color, and mascara
5. What does a typical work day look like for you?
I wish I could say all days start and end in my studio, but they don't. I work a regular nine-to-five, so my time for clay is limited. Putting time on the calendar has been increasingly important as my work has been growing and my schedule has been filling. On clay days, I tidy my studio to start with a clean slate, drink tea, open windows, and get working. By the end, my skin is dry from the clay and my feet are dirty from the dust, but my shelves are full of new work and I'm full of joy and satisfaction.
Seth Alwin Photo Works (www.sethalwin.com)
6. What makes small batch ceramics special?
I love making small batches of the items I create. There is absolutely a place for production potters, but I personally love the uniqueness of items made in trios or quartets. Not only does this make my items unique for each customer, but small batches of work reflect my days, moods, and seasons of life. They allow me to feel and create at the same time, because I'm not restricted to creating more and more of the same. You'll see my line changing subtly over time, and that makes my art real to me. That's one thing I personally like about purchasing art from artists: it's a small bit of who they are. My work is the same way. Pieces reflect who I am and where I'm at.
Rachel is kindly giving away one of her gorgeous hanging planters seen above. The winner will get to communicate directly with Rachel on which color she or he would like to receive.
Leave a comment below with your favorite item from Rachel's Etsy shop.
Post a picture of the hanging planter on Instagram tagging both Midwest Magpie & Rachel using #alwinmagpiegiveaway
The giveaway runs until Sunday, August 30, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. CST for folks in the U.S. The winner will be announced on Monday, August 31, 2015 on the Midwest Magpie Facebook and contacted on Instagram.
I can't thank Rachel and Seth enough for being another special part of my Meet the Midwest series. As Rachel so eloquently put it, the Midwest is full of potential and beauty. It's also rich with talented people, some of whom I'm blessed to know personally.
Please give the Alwins some love by checking out their respective websites & social media, and good luck to those participating in the giveaway!
Be sure to check back with Cire' of C. Alexandria, July's Meet the Midwest artist, here.