Meet Jessie

Meet Jessie

For this month's round of Clay Buddies, the EF journal series where we ask East Fork team members to introduce themselves by selecting and discussing five objects that are special to them, we're taking a more investigative approach.  Meet Jessie, East Fork's new mold maker.

Not only are we pumped to have Jessie join the team for her extensive knowledge in mold making and RAM processes, but because she's a genuine sweetheart who exudes warmth (and laughs at all of our jokes). 

Jessie joins us at East Fork after years working for Rookwood Pottery, a Cincinnati ceramics company founded in 1880 that specializes in hand-crafted architectural tile and art pottery.  Following struggles spurred by the Great Depression, Rookwood's production ceased in 1967 until it was revived in 1984 by Michigan dentist and pottery collector Arthur Townley who spent his life's savings to purchase Rookwood and all its assets upon learning the pottery was in negotiations to be sold to overseas manufacturers.  After 20 years of producing small runs of Rookwood's pots in order to maintain their trademarks, Townley finally sold the company to Cincinnati investors in 2004, its production proceeding in 2006 in its city of origin, where production continues today.

Three of our favorite forms from Rookwood (left to right): The Sophie Vase based off an archival Rookwood design from 1957, the Rienerth Planter, and the Rienerth Vase (both designed by and named for Jessie!).

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Connie and I stopped by the East Fork Mold Shop in downtown Marshall on the morning of Western NC's first snow of the winter to learn a bit more about Jessie and to see East Fork's new production processes in action.  Keep scrolling to read about Jessie's five things and to catch a glimpse of what's cooking at the EF mold shop.


Tell me about the objects you chose.

Ok!  So, the lady print is handmade by a Kentucky artist named Emily who goes by “the diggingest girl.” She hand carves the blocks and this one stood out to me when she and I were both doing a show in Louisville. The girl looks so comfortable and peaceful in her own body and I love that it also reminds me of all the talented people I have been able to meet by being a maker. 

Those are some serious work boots.

The boots are just boots I have had for years and I love them and I don’t wear much else shoe-wise.

The dog leash is for the  Shepherd-whippet pup my partner and I adopted about 6 months ago. We are way too in love with her already. She’s about 6 years old and her name is Marley. She has been my hiking buddy on the weekends and goes with me when I want to explore a new part of town or just go for a walk.

Where are your favorite places to hike?

I just checked out Pisgah National forest and liked the hikes around there and also just went on a nice little walk up Bearwallow Mountain. 

How about the book?  Do you like to cook?

The book is by a cook named Gabrielle Hamilton. I actually just re- bought this book because I gave my other copy away to a friend.  I love the way the author talks about work and the amount of time and energy she puts in to things she loves to do. Cooking was always appealing to me as a career when I was growing up, but I chose to study art before I started school. My partner is a cook at Table and I really admire how much time and energy he puts in to his craft. 

Why do you think you chose art over cooking?  Do you still cook?

After taking a ceramics class my senior year of high school I fell fast and hard for the material. It was pretty much decided after that.  And I do still really love to cook and feed people, just on my own time. 

That's the sweetest little pepper plant!

The pepper plant is something my parents gave me when they came to visit me about a month ago. My Dad loves hot peppers and grows about 5-8 different types in his garden every year. Labor Day weekend my parents have a huge party and invite everyone over to hang out and eat whatever peppers that they can harvest. They cook all different types of food with hot peppers and everyone just eats and drinks and sings karaoke in their garage.

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