Thursday, April 21, 2011

Felicia Breen & Chad Nelson: : Pottery

Today we are visiting the studio of Felicia Breen and Chad Nelson, owners of Mississippi Mud Pottery in Alton, Illinois.
Felicia and Chad bought this business in 2006, after its original owners, Ken and Brenda Barnett, retired. Both Chad and Felicia hold BFAs, Chad in metals and Felicia in sculpture. 
The shop became available to them after their degrees were earned and they had a decision to make: stay in fine arts and work another job to pay their bills, or see where Mississippi Mud could take them. 
"We get to touch clay everyday," Felicia said. "We get to do what we love every day."
Their focus is functional pottery, pieces that are handmade, affordable and perfect for everyday use.
Chad throws pottery seven days a week. His wheel is located in the shop, so customers can see him at work. They use natural clay materials that have been mined in the Midwest. 
Felicia focuses on the finishing work. Her creative space is in the back of the shop.
This is where they mix and store their custom glaze colors.
Felicia said that glaze is one of a potter's signatures.
Their kilns - they have three - are on site.
This piece was fired in their largest kiln.
In addition to their stoneware, they create fish - formed from molds of fish they have caught in the Midwest and in Texas. This piece is ready to be glazed. When it's finished, it will be part of a serving dish.
Here is the mold that Felicia and Chad created.
They also paint their pieces as wall art.
Felicia and Chad have collectors throughout the United States - for both their stoneware, and their fish. "Art fairs give us the excuse to make them," Felicia jokes.
Pottery shrinks an average of 12 percent when it is fired. This is why lids can be challenging to reproduce.
Felicia and Chad use their gallery space to feature many artists, including other potters. It's wonderful to visit their shop and see works of art made by people from around the world. They also participate in the "Mini Art" Program with the Alton Public Schools. This is a parent organized program designed to expose children to different forms of art. This semester participants are making masks.
Their studio is minutes from St. Louis and located right in historic Alton. They are neighbors to many antique stores, restaurants, and naturalist activities.

You can meet Felicia and Chad at the Effingham Artisan Fair on April 30th.

Their annual Mother's Day sale is May 6 - 8, everything is discounted.

Thank you Felicia and Chad!

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