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Conversations with Colette Oliver

Today we’d like to introduce you to Colette Oliver.

Hi Colette, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
I took my first ceramics class in high school 50 years ago! My hands have been in clay since, and I can’t imagine a time when they won’t be. I came to South Carolina by way of Ohio, Kentucky, Nevada, and Alaska.

I spent my childhood near Cleveland, Ohio, and received my BA from Thomas More College in northern Kentucky, where I lived for 27 years. A classmate and I opened Steinkrug Pottery in Main Strasse Village in Covington, KY. I went on to sell my work to KY State Parks and various shops in the Midwest. In 2000, my work was included in the book A Pottery Tour of Kentucky by Joe Molinaro.

In 2003, I moved to the desert of Nevada where I met my husband Wayne, and together we moved to Juneau in 2005 for our Alaskan adventure, which lasted 7 years. Not being a fan of rain or snow, I convinced Wayne to settle near the coast in South Carolina, just north of Savannah. The pace is slow, the people are friendly, the seafood is delicious, the weather is perfect and there’s plenty to inspire my work!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Is the road ever smooth when trying to make a living and a life in the arts? I don’t believe so. Most ceramic artists have to diversify to make ends meet by teaching or working at something other than pottery at least in the beginning.

I worked part-time in the healthcare field after college while spending all my days off and spare time making pots and figuring out what my market was. I understood early on that teaching was not for me so I chose to work in an unrelated field to supplement my pottery income.

No regrets- seeing life from a different perspective can inspire your work consciously or subconsciously, and lead me to where I am today.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I have worked in a variety of different clays over the years but now concentrate on mid-range porcelain. I am a functional potter, which means not only do I want my work to look beautiful and bring joy to people, I want it to function well and become a part of daily rituals and celebrations. I have always loved to draw and paint so I do that now on clay.

Most of my work is what I consider a blank canvas for me to paint underglazes on. It is very decorative yet functional. The motifs are inspired by my surroundings and are full of bright colors. Functional Art.

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
My mother said I liked getting my hands dirty and making mud pies, haha. I am an only child but always had the good fortune of many good friends and cousins to interact with. I have always been interested in Art and baseball.

There was no path for girls to be professional baseball players in the 60s and I was much better at Art than baseball anyway! I never expected Art to make me rich monetarily speaking, but it has definitely enriched my life and I can’t imagine doing anything else.


  • Range from $12 to $300

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