Story: Stephanie Maxwell Newton | Photography: Rett Peek |
The ceramicist behind Julie Holt Studio and Small Batch Pottery creates whimsical pottery pieces from her charming home studio in Little Rock
For your fine arts degree, you decided on a concentration in ceramics, even though you also paint and sew. How did you decide on pottery? Where I went to school—the University of North Texas—had a very strong ceramics department. I’d gotten a bachelor’s in business communications previously at Baylor, but I worked for a year and was like, “Nope, I don’t want to do this.” For a degree in fine arts, you have to pick a concentration, and at the time I was really interested in throwing pottery. It seemed like a natural pick.
Can you recall your first experience working with clay? I was first exposed to it in elementary school. Somebody came and did pottery with my class, and I remember making a bowl out of little clay balls. I don’t have the piece anymore, unfortunately! I actually had a friend who teaches art in a school in Little Rock who recently asked me to come as a guest artist for a day, and I thought, “What am I going to do with them?” So that’s basically what I taught them—the same bowl out of balls of clay.
How long have you had your home studio in Hillcrest? I’ve been in my studio here for 12 years. I love working from home. I have a small cottage-style house and often work with the doors and windows open. I’m surrounded by plants, even in the winter. I also have a small garden and love my screened-in front porch.
Animals and plants seem to be a recurring theme in your work. What is it about nature that makes you want to incorporate it into your designs? Over the years I’ve had a few cats, but currently there is only one, Squeak. He often sits beside me in my studio while I’m working. Like cats, plants are also imprinted on my brain, and I can’t help but paint them. I love the wispy and repetitive pattern of ferns—especially maidenhair, Boston, and asparagus ones—and the juicy, harder shapes of succulents. I also like insects—especially butterflies and beetles because of their delicacy, varied color, and form—and they are some of my favorites to paint and draw.
The great thing about Hillcrest is that you have some distractions within walking distance if you need them. Do you take advantage of the neighborhood much? As a matter of fact, I do that a lot. I go to Knoop Park because it’s so close. Hillcrest is great because there are so many places that are walkable. I’m close to Kavanaugh, so all of the restaurants and coffee shops are nearby. As I mentioned, I also have a really nice garden and the front porch where I can just go outside and sit or water my plants when I need a break.
Julie’s work can be found at Box Turtle, Butler Center Galleries, Gallery 26, and The Green Corner Store. Find out more about Julie at julieholtstudio.com.