Monday, July 21, 2014

Creative Spaces: Where Buffalo Etsians Make Their Magic.

This month’s featured artisan is Sara Goldhawk of Goldhawk Pottery Etc.

Along with running her Etsy shop and being our team captain, Sara is very active in the community teaching classes and exhibiting at craft shows.

Sara has been making pottery officially since about 1998. While living in Washington, DC she decided to learn how to make wheel thrown pottery at a community studio. She’s been making it as a business since 2010.

I asked Sara where she learned her craft. “I have a degree in fine art from Daemen College where I took a hand-building ceramics class, but I did not learn how to “throw” on the wheel until I started at a studio in Washington, DC.  While they were considered lessons, I mostly watched my studio mates at work and eventually got the hang of it.  Since starting my own business, I’ve learned a lot from watching You Tube videos!”

Those of us that work from home have to find a place to create and contain all of our supplies and finished work along with packing supplies and all that comes with
making and selling.


Sara said she feels lucky to have a home studio in her Williamsville basement.  “An old pottery wheel was donated to me by a family friend! I love being part of a community studio, but having my own offers a lot more storage space and flexibility.  I also have the added pleasure of having a little thief who watches me – my 1 ½ year old cat Jet.  Recently he has started stealing my paint brushes and taking them upstairs.  I’m not sure what the fascination is but it’s kind of funny!  He has a brother, Jesse, who has no interest in stealing”.
Having a place of our own where we can go to do what we love can be so important to an artisan. Sometimes we just need to shut out the rest of the world so we can dream and plan and create!

Sara shares what she enjoys most about working in her own space, “I love working with my hands and crafting something out of nothing.  It may sound corny, but there is an unspoken language - I don’t talk while I’m making it.  I just know when it’s right. Also, I am fully in control of this process, and I make every part of my pottery (except for some tiles that I have recently started to paint). In addition, while I’m nervous having the cats around while I’m glazing (I don’t want them getting dust on their paws), I love it when they visit to watch me at work.  So I’m rarely alone!”

I asked her what her “dream studio” would be like. “A bigger, cleaner studio with someone else who does the cleaning!  Keeping the studio clean, and recycling clay is hard work.  There’s a lot of dust from the clay (you have to pound dry clay back into a powder to recycle it), but also dust from the pottery glazes that float around.  More shelves would be nice and perhaps a larger slab roller for bigger items such as platters.

Sara is one busy women!  She has a very tight schedule in the summer due to her craft shows.  “I show twice a month at the Saturday Artisan Market at Canalside from May to October, so I need to have new work ready twice per month.  That means making pottery (wheel thrown and hand-built) daily for a week (sometimes up to 8 hours a day) followed by a bisque kiln firing, followed by 2-3 days of glazing (which can take up to 7-8 hours a day especially if I am painting details on my work). 
From start to finish, pottery requires at least a week to building, dry, trim, fire and glaze, but it usually takes up to two weeks to complete most things. The day after the kiln is fired and cooling is my most relaxing day because I can do other things.  I can take photos and tend to my Etsy shop, etc. FYI – I consider pottery a part time job, though sometimes it is full time. I do also teach community classes and have consulting work (in arts education) so I have to juggle my schedule quite a bit”.

Having a home studio can require some planning especially if your craft will take up a lot of space. Finding out what works for other crafters can be helpful to those just getting started.

Sara’s pottery requires some expensive equipment and a fair amount of space and consideration.  “If you have never made pottery before, I would not suggest creating a studio without solid experience.  I do have my own kiln which is in the garage, and that required a special electrical set up that only a qualified electrician can do.  My kiln is very large so it requires a lot of power, but there are smaller kilns out there for small loads that may not require as much. You can see many videos of me unloading my kiln on my YouTube page.  I would suggest doing a lot of research before venturing into setting up a studio.  And yes, I’d recommend having a cat or two around to keep you company”!

It has been so interesting learning about Sara’s studio and to see where she creates her beautiful pottery. Thank you Sara for the wonderful photos.

 You can find Sara’s work at:

Twitter: @saragdc



  1. oh wow!!! I love seeing where and how you do it all!!! plus your "helpers" look like they enjoy it too :) you do such wonderful work!!!

  2. Your cat stealing the brushes is funny Sara! Great article on your space and juggling the many things you are involved in - nice job Linda!

  3. I love seeing where people work. Thank you for sharing your space with us!