In 2018, Savannah ceramicists welcomed newcomer Claire Parrish with open arms.
“Before I moved here, I was looking for a studio space to rent, and I just kind of randomly emailed people I found on the Savannah Clay Community website,” Parrish recalls. “They were all so helpful and gave me the scoop, and I immediately started attending meetings when I got to Savannah.”
Parrish, originally from Atlanta, fell in love with ceramics while attending the University of Georgia, in part because of the way the art form blends beauty and function, she says.
“It’s meant to be interacted with, in both the making process and in the use of the work,” she says. “It’s all about bringing people together.”
In 2015, she launched Claire Parrish Pottery, a namesake brand of kitchenware and planters with an ethos that stays true to Parrish’s original appreciation for the craft.
“[My work] is traditional in terms of being familiar and comfortable. I want to make something people would want to interact with and feel comfortable interacting with,” she says.
Parrish also draws inspiration from nature, specifically from her grandparents’ farmland in Warrenton, Georgia.
“Having grown up in a city, beautiful wheat fields were not something I saw every day,” Parrish says. “I remember sunrise and sunset being the best part of the day, because of the golden light that fell over the fields. With the glazes I put on a lot of my work, I’m recreating that sense of warmth and that hazy newness over the wheat.”
Admirers will recognize the handmade, personal and original feel of her pieces, an intentional creative choice that Parrish attributes to UGA ceramics professor Ted Saupe.
“When I work, I always hear Ted’s voice telling me, ‘Don’t be afraid to show your hand in your work,’ and that’s the really cool thing about clay,” she says. “Yes, you want it to be beautiful and functional, but if you’ve got a thumbprint on the bottom, don’t worry about it. People like to see that it’s handmade.”
Currently, Parrish works in her home studio and sells merchandise locally at Hygge, Big Bon Bodega and DeSoto Street Market events. In the coming year, she hopes to complete a new, bigger home studio and possibly host pop-up shops from home. Her work is also shoppable online at claireparrishpottery.com.