'Mud and chemistry:' Haley Marshall customizes her ceramics to meet needs, personalities of people
When Haley Marshall was in high school, the last thing she wanted to do was art.
But graduating required obtaining an art credit. So, after multiple trials with drawing, photography and other media, Marshall took a pottery class. What was once an unwanted academic requirement soon became a lifelong passion, which has since become Marshall's main source of income.
Marshall has thrown pots since 2014 and last year, began teaching pottery classes for all ages out of her home-based studio in Boring.
"I hated art and drawing and I failed photography so I thought why not try pottery," Marshall explained of her high school experience. "I wouldn't be where I am now if I didn't have access to (a wheel and kiln) in high school."
It was the "fluidity and impermanence" of working with clay that hooked her.
"I think the thing with pen and paper is that it feels so permanent," Marshall explained. "But with clay, you can squish it back down if you hate it and then (once it's fired) it lasts forever. It's a way to make a permanent mark on the world with something so small. You can make anything with mud and chemistry."
The name of Marshall's business — Soulmates Ceramics — relates to a different kind of chemistry that the artist found after she began selling her creations in 2017.
Marshall boasts that her creations have become "one-of-a-kind pots for one-of-a-kind people."
"I wanted to make pots that reflected who someone was inside," she said, explaining that a lot of her favorite pieces are common items, like to-go mugs, which people create a relationship with by using every day. "Now Soulmates is about helping people fall in love with clay (through learning to throw)."
The idea to share her passion for pottery through teaching, Marshall noted, was very tied to her background in 4-H as a kid.
"Sharing the fun of something is the heart of 4-H," Marshall said. "That carries into Soulmates."
She also added that bringing people into her work just made it all the more worthwhile.
"All I need to love a job is people," she said, listing off her past customer-facing occupations such as barista, tattoo shop receptionist and housekeeper.
Though she can't have students in her studio currently because of public health concerns, Marshall looks forward to the day she'll be able to teach again.
"(A pottery class) is the perfect date night or mother-daughter day," Marshall explained. "Being creative is being vulnerable. Customers put trust in me when trying something new."
For now, Marshall continues to create in her home studio and is selling her pots online at soulmatesceramicsstudio.com.
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