Sometimes, something as small as a gift from your parents can jump-start a lifelong passion.
For local studio potter Drea Clements, that nudge came from a pottery wheel she was given when she was a little girl.
“I started pretty young, actually. I did a lot of it in high school, but my parents bought me one of those little Fisher-Price wheels when I was like 10 years old, so that’s what kind of sparked it,” she said. “I love the medium of clay, and then in college, I got to play around with different types of firing and glazing, and it was just a fun experiment to do.”
Originally from Cincinnati, Clements earned her bachelor’s in fine arts in ceramics at Bowling Green State University in 2005. After graduating, she said she did some traveling around, jumping around before she headed West to Fort Collins. She lived there for about six years before moving down here, where she’s lived for seven years. She’s shown her work in galleries, sold her pieces and has taught others.
Clements said she mainly uses two techniques to create her work – wheel throwing (creating pieces using a pottery wheel) and handbuilding (creating pieces using your hands and fingers and simple tools). And of all the things she makes, she does have some favorites.
“I really love making bottles. I think they’re kind of fun to do,” she said. “And I like to do some carving; I like how that looks and feels when you hack away at a piece of clay.”
For inspiration, Clements said she looks no further than what’s outside. And when one looks at her work, it’s easy to see she is heavily influenced by the natural world around her – from the organic shapes of her bowls and vases, to the literal mountainscapes painted on mugs, bowls and plates.
“I used to live by the ocean, so I have some of that kind of deep-rooted, and definitely the mountains and Colorado landscape, which is so beautiful and majestic,” she said. “I have mountain mugs that I’ve made and they’ve been super-popular over the summer. I feel like everyone in Durango has one at this point (laughs). Those are really fun to make, too, I just do a wax pattern and leave the raw clay behind. Each one’s different and it’s fun to see them come out different.”
Clements said that while she has faced challenges as an artist because of the coronavirus pandemic, including the cancellation of shows, there has been just as much good.
“I did the farmers markets all summer, and I was thankful they still were able to do all the markets and do the spacing according to COVID restrictions and wearing masks. I was really grateful to be a part of that,” she said. “Then I did the Autumn Arts Festival; I was really happy that they were able to do that. But I did actually have two other shows that I was supposed to do cancel.
“It actually gave me some more down time and alone time to focus on my Etsy account and getting pictures done and cranking out more work.”