Melissa Holbein works on clay in the fading light in studio 2005 at Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment. Her fingers move across the wet clay forming a shape as the wheel spins around, inevitably flicking small pieces of clay all around leaving little white dots everywhere.
Holbein leans over her potter’s wheel in her narrow studio, spinning the clay. Under her hands, the clay transforms from a lump of gray mud to a beautiful pot with the tiniest of delicate flowers decorating the sides. The idea for the piece goes from her mind, through her hands and into the clay.
Melissa Holbein is a graphic design major. She worked as a designer for 20 years. Then after home schooling her kids for a while, she wanted to get back into art. But not the art she had been doing on the computer screen for so long, “I wanted to get into something that was an art but I was actually creating something, not just on a computer screen,” said Holbein.
Then things changed in 2018 when Holbein traveled to an art show. Holbein reflects, “I went to an art show, the Bluff Park Art show, and I saw the potter Larry Allen. That was it, I started taking classes from him in 2018. And just loved it from there.”
“I really notice nature,” says Holbein when asked what inspires her. “I’m always drawn to nature. I’m always noticing how grass moves how the wind is moving the branches or how the ocean rolls.”
When asked to describe her work she notes, “What most people say is that its super-detailed. It’s not like any other pottery they’ve seen.” Holbein says, “I utilize surface design techniques in a different way. I want to show movement and color in three dimensions. My whole premise is I want the surface of the pottery to be a canvas.”