Asheville, North Carolina native Patty Bilbro’s Foxfire Pottery is earthy, uplifting, thought-provoking and endearing- and it’s the kind you can actually use! In short, it’s exceptional. We love it, and thought we’d share some of this practical magic with you. Oh, and it’s on Etsy right now! So go ahead and buy away!
Love and Water- Can you talk about how and when you started working with pottery?
Patty Bilbro- I went to college in psychology, but spent so much time in the clay studio that I put psychology on hold and went to a crafts program at the Haywood Community College Clay Production Program instead. I loved it, but was too young and not self-disciplined enough to make a living out of it, so I went back to school to get a degree in mental health and worked in the mental health field for three years. I finally decided I wanted to go back into working with clay so I started making things again about two and a half years ago. I wasn’t doing any drawings originally, but one day I had the image of a little girl that stayed in my head for a few days until I finally drew what I was seeing. I decided I wanted to transfer that to a pot. Once I started adding drawings to pots, I couldn’t stop. I would put my headphones on and draw to the music. I draw based on experiences from my psychology background- I’m interested in the brain and why we do things and what motivates us as humans. That’s definitely a huge influence for my drawings, along with my own relationships. My relationship with my partner and with my friends and family play a large role in inspiring me to create work. I also watch other relationships and how people react and respond to each other. Their interactions often tell me what they might be thinking on the inside, which is really interesting. I like to explore those areas through my work. I started drawing for myself at first, and didn’t expect people to respond so well to them. So I started adding them to the clay work about a year and a half ago and have been doing that ever since.
L&W- What is the most moving moment you’ve had so far working with your pottery?
PB- I have so many tiny moments when I’m working on a piece that move me, but those are all inside my own head. I’m always moved by people telling me that if they’re having a bad day or really struggling with something they’ll pull out my work and use it throughout the day to cheer them up. I had a mother who has lots of kids tell me that my work helps her maintain the chaos in her head. Some people have told me that it makes them drink more water. So every time I hear something like that it reminds me of why I’m doing it, and that’s the best part for me.
L&W- Where can people buy your work?
PB- I have an Etsy account and then in local studios and galleries here in Asheville, including Curve Studios and Gardens, Mud Fire and Woolworth Walk.
L&W- Are you familiar with Vincent’s Ear?
PB- I actually worked there! I miss it dearly, still. It was a real gathering place for a lot of people, mainly artists and musicians who normally spend a lot of time in a solitary life working and creating, and this provided a place for them to come together and feel they could gather in a group and not be as reclusive as usual. We don’t really see each other very much anymore because of that, and I miss seeing them all. It was a great place to take a break and go to see bands and share ideas and stories with other artists. There is a lack of that now. It was a real community.
L&W- Is there anything else you want people to know about your work?
PB- I hope it keeps growing and changing, so I hope people keep checking back to see what I’m up to. Who knows what I’ll be doing in ten years- I’m going to start experimenting with hand-building and sculpture now, which I’m excited about. So we’ll see where that goes!