Here's our mission statement:
"Saltstone Ceramics is a place where everyone is welcomed to discover a meaningful connection with a creative working community."
We've thought a lot about that sentence, and how each word reflects and inspires our values. Read on to learn more.
Saltstone: Is our name, of course. After thinking about crystal structures and doing some research, Sarah came up with this name back in 2015. It sounds nice, but I'm afraid there's no secret meaning behind it.
Ceramics: Although we support and love many forms of craft and art and expression, we are primarily in the business of selling, teaching, and promoting the art and craft of pottery.
is a place where: Location matters. We're committed to being a physical presence in a physical community; close to people's homes and working with other businesses to promote a healthy local economy. And we believe that the best way to connect with people is to be with people.
everyone: Even as pottery grows in popularity, it can feel like a niche interest. But we believe in the value of handmade crafts, and we believe in making ceramics accessible and appealing to everyone: from babies to boomers and from CEOs to janitors. We are proud of the diversity that our staff, students, and members represent: spanning generations, income levels, experiences and cultural backgrounds. We work hard to make sure that many different kinds of voices can be heard in our studio.
is welcomed: Seattle is famous for its freeze: an apathetic glance and shrug to newcomers that leaves them feeling cold. Our studio is the opposite: we see you, we're so happy you're here! This ceramics community always has room for more voices, more listeners, and more hands to work the clay and hold the results. Welcome.
to discover: Our love of pottery is personal. Everyone who comes into the studio needs to uncover the meaning of craft and art for themselves. There are many ways that folks come to us: from one-night classes to eight-week classes to members who are in the studio every day; from folks who smile as they walk by our gallery windows to folks who eagerly await every new gallery show, credit card in hand. We're not dogmatic; we know that the spark of appreciation needs to come on its own terms. We provide the map and the compass; you need to find the treasure.
a meaningful: The work we sell, the skills we teach, the community we build: these are all the fruits of deeply personal labors of love. We imbue stories into our work, and we retell those stories with every sip from a handmade mug. There is a common thread in many ceramicists' artists statements: "I create special things to deepen the meaning of our daily rituals". We recognize that sentiment in the work we create and sell.
connection: The objects we make and sell are personal and come with stories of aspiration and inspiration. By passing along skills and ceramics, we connect people to the material world, to capability, to traditions, and to technology. We sometimes think of our studio as completing the craft circle: from inspiration, to practice, to talent, to product, to appreciator ... to inspiration again.
with: believe it or not, this is the most contentious word in the whole mission statement. It was originally "to"; Sarah thought that it sounded better as "with"; I thought "to" looked better on the sign. Don't worry, we worked it out.
a creative: this is a place for personal expression. Sure, sometimes life in the craft world is a slog... but ultimately, we want everyone to find something new–in themselves, their vision, their capability, and their appreciation of art.
working: we have a ton of fun in the studio, and we try to create a playful, friendly atmosphere. But for many of us, this is work. It's rewarding and fun, but the goal of this business is to create jobs for artists that pay livable wages. We believe that independent craft businesses are an essential part of a healthy local economy.
community: This is what it all comes down to: a group of people who care for and rely on each other. We measure the strength of our business by the strength of the community that it inhabits.
Steve Leroux is co-owner of Saltstone Ceramics and Ruby Pear Woodworks, and spends a lot of time thinking about how craft and creativity fit into our lives. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.