For the creative at heart and hand, pottery remains a way to meld utilitarianism with craftsmanship and creativity.
Such is the way of Amy Conley, owner of Refried Greens Pottery, a Grass Valley-based company that offers handmade goods.
Conley began making pots in 2004 after she retired from dentistry to focus on raising her two young sons.
“I’ve always kind of been an arts person,” Conley said. “I asked my husband to get me a potter’s wheel. I said, ‘There’s something about it I really need to do.’”
After several classes and trial and error, Conley developed various pieces, which she has sold for the past five years.
The colors used in the pottery are a mix of glazes and designs, which make for a vibrant, rustic display of bold colors.
“I use a lot of crazy colors you wouldn’t typically see in pottery, which a lot of times is blue and brown and green, and I use reds and yellows and gold,” Conley said.
The pieces are all dishwasher, microwave and oven safe and include dish sets, olive oil jars, garlic grater bowls, wine glasses where the stem is created by Conley, and even a “baconator” in which you set a strip of bacon on the bowl and the grease drips down into the bowl.
She also includes a grated plate on the inner surface of lids to grate garlic against.
“Almost everything I sell is related to food, either serving or preparing,” Conley said. “I sell these fun things called garlic graters, and you dip your bread in them.”
She also developed a fermentation pot, describing how easy the pickling process is, which simply requires vegetables and salt.
“It’s sort of like when you make sauerkraut or pickles, you just let stuff sit in its own juices, and you add basic things like salt, and they basically pickle themselves in their own juices,” Conley said, adding, “Fermentation brings out the vitamins in those different vegetables more than if you were to eat them raw.”
Rather than the multiple gallon-sized crocks sold in stores, Conley offers a more accessible one, she said, with playful colors.
“Some stores sell a big, generic crock with nothing fancy about them that hold 2 gallons,” Conley said. “Most people don’t need anything that large, and the pots I make are about a half a gallon, just a nice size.”
Conley was able to gain exposure through the Grass Valley Wine Company when she displayed her products on the McCourtney wine trail show after she asked if she could keep her pieces in the store when the show was canceled.
“They gave me a whole shelving unit, which houses about 33 pieces of mine,” Conley said. “The first day I put it in there, I sold two pieces.”
She also sets up booths through seasonal farmers market, including the one at the North Star House Saturday mornings, and makes custom orders.
Her products can be viewed at the Grass Valley Wine Company at 128 Mill St. which can be contacted at 530-615-4222, on Etsy at http://etsy.com/shop/ RefriedGreensPottery?ref= search_shop_redirect or through Nevada County Makes at http://nevadacountymakes.com/maker_store/refried-greens. She can be contacted at 530-559-2519 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Of course, everything comes from love,” Conley said. “I think when people pick up my pieces, they pick up a piece of me, and they feel that and know somebody put a lot of care into that.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4230.