Rural Missouri - March 2013 - (Page 10)

a Bethel couple responds to clay in a beautiful way I by Heather Berry hberry@ruralmissouri.coop photos by Kyle Spradley and Heather Berry n 1990, St. Louis potters Joe Jostes and Sue Skinner saw an ad in Ceramics Monthly magazine that intrigued them. The historic German colony of Bethel was in need of a town potter, so the duo made an appointment to see what the northeast Missouri community had to offer. After two visits, they knew Bethel was to be the home of SJ Pottery. “There was no salary, only the glory of being the town potters,” says Sue. “But the town graciously offered us free studio space, an affordable place to live and promotion of our business. It was a good deal for us.” For 25 years, this husband-and-wife team has made its mark as creators of traditionally inspired redware, mocha and salt-glazed stoneware. “At that point, we were pretty much doing shows at historic reenactments, and since our business was mainly based on travel, we knew we could be located anywhere and do what we do for a living,” she adds. The couple’s foray into pottery began at Florissant Valley Community College. For Sue, who felt she was in a dead-end job at the time, it was simple advice from her brother to “take some classes you love.” Five semesters later, clay was the only consistent thread. Her brother said, “I think you found what you love, but I don’t know what you would do with it.” Joe, who already was working in pottery at the time, just wanted to Thanks to the combined artistic sefforts of Sue Skinner and Joe Jostes, SJ Pottery’s re-created historical works are known across the country. expand his knowledge. But the college kept canceling the sculpting class he wanted because nobody else signed up. So he signed up for ceramics. “I hated ceramics in high school. But within a couple of weeks, I realized there was so much more to learn. Joe places a sculpted clay vase into one of three kilns at SJ Pottery’s workshop in Bethel. Joe and his wife, Sue, have collaborated on projects for 25 years, producing re-creations of historical pottery designs and patterns. 10 It had chemistry, technology, math and art,” Joe recalls, smiling. “So I dropped all my other classes that semester except ceramics and never looked back.” The married couple specializes in creating simple, traditionally deco- rated Bethel • redware pottery once used in daily life during the 18th century. “While we’ve studied various styles from that time period, we feel that our ware melds well with those historical pieces and adds a fresh look to traditional favorites,” says Sue. While the couple works together 24/7, they have been able to keep their artistic voices separate, collaborating only on a few styles of pottery. “Joe has a saying that suits us well: ‘We can play in the same sandbox but not on the same castle,’” says Sue, laughing. “Our styles are similar, yet different. It’s just the perfect balance for us.” From tea bag holders to pie birds, mugs to canisters and plates to pitchers, SJ Pottery offers a wide variety of pottery to meet household needs. “We like to think of our pieces as art you can use daily,” says Sue. “Around here, form follows function.” Their redware, also known as terra cotta, is a variety of earthenware made of porous clay that turns red, orange or brown when fired. Once pieces are thrown on a pottery wheel and airdried, most are decorated at what’s called leather-hard stage. The pieces are then glazed and refired. Then, it’s ready to pack up for stores or shows. While Joe and Sue often paint iconic historical patterns and designs on their pottery, Sue enjoys adding what’s called sgrafitto to many of the pieces. Here, Sue uses a process called sgraffito to scratch the foot of an eagle into a pitcher design. She says items with patriotic themes always seem to be popular with buyers of their pottery. WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - March 2013

Rural Missouri - March 2013
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
Musings in mud
The lure of tying flies
Outdoors
Out of the Way Eats
Living history
Queens of the court
Homegrown music
Hearth and Home
All about mulch
Around Missouri
Marketplace
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - March 2013

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