Today we’d like to introduce you to Tiffany Hilton.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Tiffany. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My first experience with clay was in my second year of undergraduate school at SUNY New Paltz. I was certainly not the best student in the class, but I was completely hooked on the material and…twenty five years later…I’m still trying to make better pots than the day before.
After college I earned a Master’s Degree in Library Science and then apprenticed with a potter, Kit Cornell, for three years in Exeter, NH. I worked in libraries for several years and eventually moved into part-time positions while I made pottery and taught classes as well. While I lived near Boston in my twenties, we moved to western MA for more affordable housing and studio space. I officially started my business in 2005 and began selling pots locally at farmers markets and craft shows. Over the next ten years, I developed a strong local customer base and could envision making the leap to full-time studio work. I’ve been a full-time potter and teacher for just over three years now and I feel grateful everyday for work that I love.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest obstacle for me was maintaining health insurance. When the Affordable Care Act passed I could finally consider being a full time artist. However, with the fate of the Affordable Care Act on shaky ground at best, I would be very unsettled trusting the government to provide my healthcare at the moment. Currently my husband is earning the insurance and I am advocating for overhauling our healthcare system!
Self-employment can feel very risky at times. There were numerous setbacks and success came very slowly. You may have heard a particular craft show was “great” but you end up not even covering your expenses. Or you may have challenges with equipment and technology that slow you down or require help from others. I have learned to diversify my income enough that one unexpected bumps in the road won’t make or break me. It has been really helpful to have other artists to talk with about their career path and to help pick you up when you do have a setback.
Tiffany Hilton Pottery – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I specialize in handmade dinnerware and custom wedding registries – creating bowls, plates, cups and serving ware one piece at a time. I never get tired of practicing my craft and love working with clients to make dinnerware they will use for decades to come. My goal is not to be on the cover of a ceramics magazine – but to create the mug you reach for every morning. My pottery is minimal and quiet – with little decoration. It is meant to offer a calm moment of pause…leaving space for food, drink, community and conversation. I believe that living with handmade objects brings human connection, thoughtfulness and beauty to our everyday lives.
Teaching pottery classes and “date night” classes in my studio also keeps me very busy! People are taking pottery classes more than ever these days…perhaps a primal desire to get dirty and make something with their hands as a way to counteract their fast-paced jobs and too much screen time. I teach weekly beginner and intermediate classes for locals and also offer “date night” classes for couples to try the potter’s wheel in a fun, two hour class.
I love creating opportunities to support other craft artists and use my organizational skills to run a few events and craft shows each year. I’m also part of the annual Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail studio tour every April and have helped to grow that event over the past 14 years!
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I’m proud to be a central part of the clay community in western MA…and just proud to pay my bills with money that I’ve earned selling pottery and teaching classes. My proudest moment may have been the past Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail when I felt so much support from my customers and way exceeded my sales goals for the weekend.
- Dinnerware place settings are around $100 for dinner plate, lunch plate and bowl.
- Date night pottery class for two people is $140 and includes a few of your pieces being glazed and fired.
- Address: 221 Pine St, studio 352
Florence, MA 01062
- Website: https://tiffanyhilton.com
- Phone: 413-824-6506
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tiffanyhiltonpottery/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TiffanyHiltonPottery
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/tiffany-hilton-pottery-northampton
Platter, bowl, dinnerware and tabletop view photos by John Polak