• Dreamers + Doers: Jessica Wertz

    Dreamers + Doers highlights emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and up-and-coming ones to watch. Whether it’s starting a new business, creating something beautiful, or just daring to do things differently, we stand behind those taking steps toward something new.

    For the latest installation in our Dreamers + Doers series, a feature that highlights emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and up-and-coming people to watch, we spoke to Jessica Wertz, a ceramicist and jeweler. An artist from a very young age, Jessica started her artistic journey in Pennsylvania, but now has a sunny, light-filled studio in beautiful San Francisco. With her very own UO line of dishwear available, we took a trip to Jessica's studio (we love how airy and color-coordinated it is!) to chat with her about her process, how she found herself as a ceramicist, and what she loves about San Francisco.
    Photos by Harry Glazier

    Can you tell us about your art background?
    If you knew me as a child you’d find it hard to pick a starting point. I was always hands deep in a craft project. I come from a family that fostered my art interests, especially my aunt who was always introducing me to new art mediums. In high school I apprenticed a local painter and worked after school on a historical buildings restoration crew. I felt nourished by the hard work and creativity.

    I started school at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, but couldn’t feel a sense of direction in my major, Painting and Drawing. After taking a two year break to travel I returned to my backyard college, Penn State University, and fell madly in love with clay. After completing my BFA in Ceramics I moved to the one stoplight town of Floyd, VA for a two year apprenticeship with a master potter. I also worked for a jeweler at this time and began incorporating ceramic jewelry into my work. After two years I was ready for the great unknown again and moved to Berkeley, CA to build my ceramic business at Fourth & Clay Studio.

    What made you fall in love with clay and ceramics?
    I first found clay in an elective class at Penn State. Of all the mediums I had tried clay had not been one of them, and it shook my world.

    Since you create both pottery and jewelry, do you find yourself preferring one over the other?
    I honestly don’t have a strong preference. They balance each other out, and satisfy my wandering passions. My work is always answering to beauty. The jewelry speaks to adorning and beautifying the body while the pottery adorns and beautifies the home.

    How do you describe your work?
    Vibrant. Grounded. Refined. Mindful.

    What's your favorite part about working with these mediums?
    Hands down the endless possibilities involved with clay. Once you’ve put in the work to have basic clay skills, you can make almost anything. I go bonkers dreaming of new designs I’ll one day make.

    What’s been the biggest challenge of running your business?
    My biggest challenge is that there is not enough time in a day to complete everything. Staying in a creative flow long enough and not being disturbed by the reality of emails and timelines makes me want to multiply myself or to find another set of hands! I brought myself here one step at a time though and I trust the important things will always get done.

    What about the thing that’s been the most rewarding?
    Most rewarding is that I’m living my dream. I continue to create a reality that I envisioned long ago and I feel extremely grateful. When people add value to my work by allowing it into their lives and homes it’s the highest compliment and most rewarding experience.

    Where can you be found when you're not working?
    At the expense of sounding totally consumed by my work, I can almost always be found (ahem) in my studio. I suppose the gift of doing what you love the most is that you never have to stop! It works well that my boyfriend, Zeph, is a musician and also loves to log in studio hours. My favorite out of studio experiences are often wandering around in San Francisco, a truly magical city.

    What’s been inspiring your work lately?
    Proportions, African Mudcloth, Detail, Cabernet. And as of this month, my new bright clean Oakland home studio.

    Tell us one thing you're excited for.
    Rolling out of bed tomorrow morning, coffee in hand, walking into my light filled studio is a daily excitement. I have a couple of upcoming shows in San Fran to gear up for - ArtWear at the De Young Museum in May and West Coast Craft in June. I always love connecting with the people that make my world possible!

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