Originally from Jacksonville, NC, Julie Wiggins graduated from East Carolina University with a BFA in Ceramics. She has fond memories from growing up, surrounded by warm blue skies, expansive beaches, and bright green farmland. Though her work as a ceramicist has taken her to Europe, Mexico, Morocco, and beyond, she still holds a place in her heart for the easy-going Southern lifestyle.
Today, as an active member of the clay community in Charlotte, NC, she continues to support herself as a studio potter and educator.
How did you get started in clay?
This is a good story that I love to share. I was working at a coffee shop while in college at ECU in 1996 and Jennifer Mecca, fellow Lark & Key potter, started working there. She was receiving her BFA in Ceramics. I would go and watch her work in the studio and always enjoyed the mugs she brought to the coffee shop. Hook, line, and sinker I immediately fell in love. The next fall I started my first semester in art school and started finally making good grades. I was flunking out of school with no focus before I met Jen. I went on to complete my degree in Ceramics from ECU and later took my studies to China at the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, where I received an Honorary Degree.
What five words best describe your work?
Functional, decorative, playful, detailed, mindful
Tell us a bit about your technique.
As a studio potter, I make objects of enjoyment that strike a balance between uniquely functional forms and narrative design. Whether hand built or thrown on a wheel, my porcelain vases, flower blocks, lidded jars, plates, teapots, noodle bowls, and more are both playful and aesthetically complete.
Lilly, lotus, tulip, or dogwood patterns accent most work, occasionally paired with birds or fish. Using transparent glazes, these surface designs stand out clearly yet gently with my inlaid, gestural lines of black slip.
Some work also highlights carving patterns, lightly pooled glazes, or thoughtfully designed flares such as asymmetrical edges, decorative coils or clay “buttons,” and distinctive rectangular feet. All pots are fired to 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit in an electric kiln.
What is a typical day like in your studio?
I typically start my day on my bike, which helps to align what is to be made in the studio that day. It gives me time to think about where I left off the day before, and what goals I want to accomplish that day. My routine in the studio starts with throwing in the morning. I try not to throw late in the day when I’m getting tired. I save hand building and drawing for afternoon and nighttime work.
What do you listen to while you work?
I mostly download books. I love being read to and this is one of my favorite ways to dive into my work. Especially during a busy work cycle it, helps to keep me in the studio, because like any good book you want to know what happens next!
What is your favorite thing about being a ceramic artist?
I feel really fortunate to be able to work in a field I’m passionate about. I love the opportunity to bring beauty to an everyday situation, through a morning cup of coffee out of one my handmade mugs or sitting down to dinner with a table full of porcelain pots.
I truly believe using handmade objects brings joy to your life. Perhaps the user slows down in their day and considers the love and care taken to make the piece, and hopefully, that results in a smile.