Hoggin All the Fun with Pottery Therapy

Living in the Garden State, it’s hard to imagine summer without jersey corn, tomatoes and bunches of wildflowers. Which is why everyone these days seems to be on the hunt for their favorite outdoor market. They can be found up and down the coast, bringing the farm bounty right to our fingertips. Walk into one of these markets though and you will quickly realize that fresh grown produce is only a small part of the picture, as vendors are bringing us homemade treats, fresh seafood and hand-made crafts! This week, we sat down with a friend of ours, Zina Brown, the artist behind Pottery Therapy.

Kate: Tell us when and how you developed Pottery Therapy?

Zina: Twelve years ago, I started taking some night classes with my friends…One of the girls suggested a pottery class. So, we signed up and we took it. I took to it very easily and they did not…I wanted to do the pottery class again, but they weren’t interested, so I signed up myself. But they didn’t fill the class. I was really disappointed, but there was a different kind of class available called hand building and they offered to switch my tuition over to that. And that’s kind of where Pottery Therapy was born because most of the stuff that I make is hand built as oppose to thrown on a wheel, which gives me a lot of flexibility with designs and shapes and textures. I still love to throw on the wheel, it’s just not where my passion lies.

 

Zina continued to take night classes in Haddonfield and became close with her instructor and began helping her teach the class. When Zina and her husband relocated to the shore though, she found a class in Cape May Court House which she started taking once a week. There, she started guiding their open studio and was able to spend time working on her own creations. This worked well for a long time, but Zina had the itch to make enough to sell. So, she built up a small collection and went to a holiday market at her workplace.

Zina: It was a Christmas craft show and I sold everything that I had made. People just loved it. And it really gave me that boost that I needed to take that step. Because when you create something, you don’t always know if what you’ve envisioned for the piece, how it will carry over to a potential customer. Even now, I still have my reservations. I need a little push from my sales manager over here. I’ll say I don’t like the color and he’ll say, “no absolutely, someone will like that”. And he’s always right. I’ll put it out and it will be the first thing that sells that day. So, it’s not necessarily what I like, but what other people see in it as well.

Zina’s “sales manager” (and our bartender for this evening) is her husband Don. He wears a lot of hats. Not only did he build her a studio in their basement, but Don is by Zina’s side at every market, helping with set up, packaging sales and chatting up their customers. Don even assists with clay cutting for her famous bicycle mugs on the production end of things.

Kate: It’s interesting that you say that because you have quite a following of loyal customers now. It’s not just people that are finding you for the first time saying this is so unique – I love this. People are saying they like the new colors because they follow you, they’ve bought from you before and they notice when you have something new and different and people are excited about that.

Zina: It’s a great feeling that I get from that because, you could make a piece of pottery and they could take it home and use it one time and it breaks. And what would that say about us. I use what I make every day. We use it for dinner every night and throw it in the dishwasher with no problems. That means what I am putting out is quality which is why people keep coming back. It is durable. It is very functional. I want people to be able to use them every day, not save them for special occasions. That’s just not me.

Kate: Tell us more about the evolution of your products and how you decide what to create.

Zina: I have always taken inspiration from nature. In the early days, I loved using leaves to make impressions in the clay. I was also big into the doilies which is everyone’s favorite because of the way the glaze plays out on the designs. We’ve both love whales so I set out to create something for him (pointing to Don) for his birthday.

Here’s the impressive thing about the whale plates… Zina creates each one by hand, delicately molding the tails to the perfect angle, giving each their own mysterious smile and wondering eye. Each one is truly one of a kind. Which is no wonder why they are such a popular item. The seashore theme can be seen throughout her designs. She has starfish plates and small ring bowls stamped with seashore icons. Seahorses, anchors, and turtles are present on every unique table that she sets up on market days. And it doesn’t stop at dishes. Zina creates ornaments, large platters, bowls, vases, planters, wall hangings, pins & jewelry, ring dishes, mugs and more! I make a habit of buying from Zina for the holidays, but these items are great for birthdays, housewarmings, weddings or teachers gifts too!

Don and Zina have made market life part of their lifestyle. While Brigantine was Zina’s first big market, she says that each one offers its own unique scene. Adjusting to the market life wasn’t easy though. The morning panic that set in on market day that first year always had them questioning if they had everything, are we forgetting something, will we have enough time.

Don: She’s super overprepared. Which is what you have to do. On the crafting end, the shows can be 8 hours or two days straight. And She has expanded up to Ocean Grove & Red Bank and all the way south to Cape May.

Kate: Tell us a little bit more about market life.

Zina: It’s like a little family. You see each other every Saturday for four hours and sometimes you go out after show for cocktails. So, it has expanded our social network quite a bit.

Don: And it’s introduced us to restaurant owners, farm owners, chamber of commerce members, (people from) every aspect of life. 

Zina: Even some of our customers invite us out to do things with them. It really is like a family.

Don: By the time you get to the market, all the hard work is done. The market is the fun part. I think part of what we have is that people like that a husband and wife do it together. It’s her thing but we have fun with it. We make it social.

Zina: We make fun of each other; we crack jokes about each other. He cracks jokes with the customers. Then during the market, you have a little time you go say hi to everybody.

Don: We’ve gotten to know so many people with so many things.

Zina: Some of the vendors have even ordered things from me to help promote their products.

You’ll see Pottery Therapy being used as a backdrop to promote other market products. She’s made custom bowls for farmers, dishes for the salt vendor, platters for food bloggers [you can find Zina’s plates under some yummy dishes from Coley Cooks from the Food Network] and more!

If you are a true follower of SJ Fun Hog, you know that we dream big and make fun a priority. So, we couldn’t resist asking a few silly questions while we had Don and Zina…

Kate: What is the first thing that you would buy if you won the lottery tomorrow?

Zina: There’s so many. I think I would buy the house that I want over by Kennedy Park. It’s a garden style house right next to the park. Or a retail store.

Kate: What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not at a market?

Zina: Go to the beach and go swimming in my floatie.

Kate: Last but not least, I need to know what is your go to hangover cure? 

Zina: You just have keep eating. You have to eat all day. And then go swimming in your floatie. Or you could do what I do to Don and go for a 6-mile hike…

We all agreed that a floatie is the way to go.

If you’re interested in supporting a local artist, looking for a completely unique gift or are looking to pick up a few hand-crafted pieces for yourself, here’s how you can find Zina:

On Facebook Follow:  PotteryTherapy08244

On Instagram Follow: @PotteryTherapy08244

Her Online Shop can be found through both social media accounts (Click Shop Now) or you can go to:  www.potterytherapy.company.site

Shipping, Local Delivery & Porch Pick Up are available.

A visual tour of Zina’s studio and market…