Photo: St. Lawrence Pottery
On Route 12 in Clayton near the St. Lawrence River, maker artists Sarah Ellen Smith and John Arnot operate studio/gallery St. Lawrence Pottery (41468 Route 12). Hand-painted wood-fired coffee mugs, serving and trinket dishes, bowls, and coasters are merchandised in the front, while the kiln and workspace are just through the back past Sarah’s glass-blowing station.
We spent some time with Smith on a recent trip, watching her practice her craft and allowing us to video her making a glass bead.
Press play to watch Sarah Ellen Smith of St. Lawrence Pottery show us how to make a glass fish bead
Smith also graciously answered a few of our questions...
NEW YORK MAKERS: After all these years, why do you think you've stayed in the region?
SARAH ELLEN SMITH: John and I both were generational River Kids. His family was on Summer Land Island and mine in Fisher's Landing. I became a seasonal cottage owner who stayed later and arrived earlier every year, until I finally decided to stay all year. At about the same time, John had met and married my good friend here in Clayton. We started collaborating about ten years ago, and the business grew from that collaboration.
NYM: What does being on the water, specifically the St. Lawrence, mean to you?
SES: It was at the country's worst economic period that we started and yet it was also the start of the “buy-it-local” movement. The community was extremely encouraging and supportive of our venture, year rounders and seasonal folks as well. When we first started we were using the wood-fired kiln exclusively, and it required lots of hands, so we knew right away that we had a lot of people behind us.
NYM: With regards to your pottery, how does living in Clayton and having access to the river inspire or direct your work?
SES: Starting with the name John chose for the business, St. Lawrence Pottery, the River is a huge inspiration to our work. The images are derived from boat rides and summer days on the River. The flora and fauna are in the decoration as well. Our customers can see our regard for the River and appreciate holding pieces that remind them of it.
Making beautiful and useful things is a good thing and making them in a place you love, well that's pretty close to as good as it gets!