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Rising Stars: Meet Sharon Ingram

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sharon Ingram. 

Sharon, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I never would have dreamed that when I began working with clay, that one day it would lead me to owning a beautiful pottery studio and gallery. I fell in love with the medium around 1989, which is where my journey began, as I had a hunger to learn the pottery wheel. After making a career change in 2004, my path led me to opening Mud Puddle Pottery Studio, which is a place that people can take pottery wheel, hand-building in clay, sculpture classes, and also a place that they can purchase clay, supplies, and equipment to start their own home studio. In 2009, we expanded into a larger space, opening an Artisan Gallery featuring the work of regional artists and craftsman. The gallery is host to some of the most recognized potters, glass, jewelry, copper, metal sculpture, painting, and fiber artists in Nashville. It is certainly worth the trip to drive less than 20 minutes west of downtown Nashville and experience shopping where every item is handcrafted and one-of-a-kind. 

Our classroom also expanded immensely, so we began adding classes and workshops in painting, coppersmithing, jewelry, and special events such as Pottery Wheel Date experiences and group events. Mud Puddle Pottery Studio is a place where people come together and where friendships are made. 

Alright, 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?
There are always struggles and long hours owning a small business, but we love being part of the community here. After almost 18 years of running the shop, Randy and I have a lot of support from our customers and friends that keep us moving forward. We try to continuously renew and evolve with the times. We had to make a lot of adjustments during the pandemic, but we figured out how to continue classes, workshops, and group events. We also changed our Holiday Open House to a Holiday Marketplace that starts in mid-November and we extended it through Christmas week, which actually made it better and more flexible for our customers to shop. We expanded our gallery into the classroom which allowed over 4000 square feet of shopping space and plenty of room for folks to spread out. We added live artist demonstrations every Saturday during the holiday season, which has offered an opportunity for everyone to meet the artists and watch them at work. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I find that I have a unique style of adding marks and energy to my work, which comes from my love for abstract art. Much of my functional pottery is done in an Asian red glaze that I have custom blended, along with a contrasting Tenmoku matte glaze. Randy manages the kiln firings, which is most important to accomplishing the effects that I want to achieve with the glazes that I am using, by varying the kiln temperatures and cooling process. If I had to choose my favorite, it would be the raku firing processes that is so exciting and unpredictable. By using a combination of raku glazes, wax resists, oxides, and underglazes, I can make my finishes stand out. The Saggar firing lends itself to an abstract surface, which I can emulate in many of my abstract paintings. 

There is a series of blue glazes in some of my work that is applied in a manner that flows, creating a landscape of land and sea, which I apply the same feel in my much of the abstract paintings. 

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
Have a lot of patience and if you love a challenge, then you are on track. Don’t plan on making a set of dishes any time soon. Classes are an important part of it to give you a foundation, and then practice every chance that you get. I wish that I could have had structured and technique classes when I began learning the pottery wheel. That is why the classes that we offer here are structured, which I feel allows students to learn more progressively. 

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Image Credits

Gina Binkley Creative

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