Jay and Karrie Stemmler
 

The life plan: Food, pottery and travel.  Educated as Microbiologists. Owned a Natural Food Store and flour milling operation. Worked and lived in Japan. And now, we are full-time potters.

 

Having been fortunate to live in Japan for a few years in the early 90’s as English teachers, we were eager for another opportunity to go back.  Jay’s dream was to study with a Japanese potter.  In 2007, we were able to return to Japan for a year. Karrie did the teaching so Jay could pursue the pottery dream.  First he had to find a teacher! As things sometimes happen – there was Mr. Owashi, local pottery master, sitting in one of Karrie’s English classes the first week. Really, no kidding.  Before we knew it, Jay was working and throwing pots full-time at Wasyu-gama, Mr. Owashi’s studio on the side of a mountain in Kojima Japan. Karrie spent her free time honing her pottery skills in the studio as well.

 

On our return from Japan in 2008, we set up our own studio and gallery. Much of the work we now produce in our Indianola studio reflects our love of the Japanese aesthetic.  We produce wheel-thrown and hand-built functional ceramic ware for your kitchen and home. 

In addition, fun is had with fire, smoke and glowing hot pots in the making of decorative Raku pottery. We offer private and small group lessons out of our studio as well.

 

In October of 2019 we had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand to work with wood-fire ceramicist Elena Renker. Following her residency in Shigaraki Japan, Elena developed her own unique take on the Japanese aesthetic of Kurinuki, which literally means ‘carving out’. She is known internationally for the tea bowls she creates. 

 

Elena graciously invited us to stay with her on her farm just north of Auckland, and patiently guided us in learning some of the Kurinuki forms. In exchange, we assisted her in getting ready for her annual open house. This involved prepping for and working with her to fire her wood-fired kiln twice within a few weeks. While Jay worked to chop, sort and stack wood for the firings and get the kiln ready, I worked in Elena’s spring garden weeding, pruning and planting. Elena was busy finishing up the pots she wanted to get fired. LOTS of them! After the firings, we thoroughly cleaned out her studio and set up and arranged displays of her pots for sale, both inside and on the grounds outside her studio.

 

The open house was held on a beautiful, spring November day.  All the hard work paid off as we watched Elena’s patrons smiling and shopping and wandering in the gardens, fully enjoying their day at the pottery studio supporting their local artist.

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