Sharon Greenwood | Episode 286
Sharon Greenwood is a full time potter living in Portland, Oregon. She grew up outside of New Orleans and received her BFA from the University of Southern Mississippi in graphic design, with a minor in sculpture. This is where she first learned to love clay. After 15 years in advertising, she took a sabbatical and enrolled in a local clay class. She loved it so much, she decided to retire and start her second career as a potter. She works out of her home studio, creating wheelthrown, handcarved home decor and tableware that are inspired by the Oregon coast and her garden.
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What does your community of friends really want out of the relationships with other potters?
I think there is this huge desire to learn and I think that is what we all appreciate about each other. There is this genuine curiosity about clay and what you can do with it and how you can transform it. I think for the Lunch Ladies we are all just trying to grow more and learn more and feed off of each other. There is a really excitement there. I know for me personally, I keep doing the same thing over and over again now that I have two established lines of work. I don’t get to experiment any more and so for me it is an opportunity to break out of that repetition and think about something new and different. It sparks creativity for me that I don’t normally get in my day to day practice.
What do you feel that your group of friends bring back to their making as a result of being a part of the community?
I hope that they are getting the same thing out of it as well. Half of these ladies have left Georgies and installed their own home studios and I think there is one, an opportunity to reconnect on a personal level and feel like you are still part of a group, but again I do think it is us learning from each other and seeing what other people are doing that we wouldn’t normally think to do ourselves.
How do you use social media, specifically Instagram, to build community for yourself?
I have some regular people that I interact with on Instagram and I love to get feedback from them. I love to give them feedback as well. It is almost always positive. There are some times when I am having an issue in the studio and I need help with it. So sometimes I will put that out there and ask a question like: Is there a better way to do this? or Why am I having this issue? It is always helpful to hear from other people who have struggled with the same issue.
You have on your bio page: Be gentle. Have patience. What does that mean?
It means two things. One it is my approach to how I work. I have to be really gentle with my clay, in that I don’t destroy it. When I carve something it is quite thin and so I treat everything very gently. Also my work is a very slow process so I have to have a lot of patience. Part of that is I can envision the end product and I just remind myself to take the time to get to that end result. But that is also my approach to life. I like moving slowly, I like having patience and I think that it is easier to be kind and gentle to people. I appreciate it when people treat me that way and I want to do that in turn.
How have you used hashtags on Instagram to be able to find your community?
I don’t think I have ever done that before, not from a community standpoint. I think what I am trying to do with hashtags is draw people to me and maybe that is a form of creating community, just letting people know that I am out there and that they can find me over here in my little corner.
If you were hiking on a trail in the Pacific Northwest and it came to a Y , would you take the well-traveled path or would you take the overgrown path?
Well-travelled. And that is not a reflection of how I operate in life, that is just my approach to hiking. I have a very healthy respect for nature and I am afraid of it, I’ll be honest. I am not adventurous in the outdoors. But in my life, I would veer towards the less-travelled route.