Story by Jessica Graves
Photography by Eduardo Schneider
It’s a typical day inside the Flagler Village studio, a cacophony of wet clay slapping onto potter’s wheels, the low steady hums of the motors as they speed up and slow down, mixed with the chatter of students. In the center of this unintended and slightly chaotic orchestra is the conductor, Sarah Glass. With her doe eyes, pink-hued locks and megawatt smile, Glass is in her element. As she teaches, guides and encourages each of her students, regardless of their experience levels, her lighthearted presence adds to the fun and equally Zen-like space of her namesake pottery studio.
The 26-year-old Floridian recognizes the therapeutic value of what she’s created. “Pottery is not only a wonderful creative outlet, it’s also meditative,” she says. “You can work on a piece and have a vision in mind and when it’s not going the way you want, you pound it out and you start over. It’s like life. If you don’t like the path you’re on, change it.”
No stranger to self-reinvention, Glass proved her tenacity when she had to quickly adapt to a virtual world while other small businesses were forced to shutter amid the pandemic. She partnered with NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale and started hosting virtual pinch-pot classes for museum members, offered at-home kits for contactless pickup and launched open-air movie and pottery nights on the rooftop of her second-story shop. Her quick pivot and online pottery sales—coupled with sales of her aptly named line of Clay Bae T-shirts, totes and aprons—helped keep the artrepreneur afloat.
Making influential friends with art world connections hasn’t hurt, either. Glass teamed up with Sam Borkson, one half of the artistic duo FriendsWithYou, in 2019 during the opening of the “Happy!” exhibition at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. FriendsWithYou, who easily command triple-digit deals for their cartoon-inspired commissions, have earned worldwide recognition with stage designs for Grammy-winning artist J Balvin’s 2019 tour and their float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “We had a great time,” Glass says of her collaboration with Borkson. “I always enjoy meeting and working with someone who loves what they do and can make a good living doing it.” But after the piece they created had baked and was ready to paint, she was removing it from the kiln when she dropped it, shattering pieces everywhere. Then she saw the silver (or in this case, golden) lining and turned to the ancient Japanese practice of kintsugi, where a mixture of lacquered gold, silver or platinum powder is used to put the pieces back together, highlighting rather than hiding the imperfections. “Kintsugi has been around for hundreds of years, and I like how it translates from pottery to my outlook on life,” she says. “Just because something was once broken doesn’t mean it can’t become stronger and more beautiful than before.”
Whether she was inspired by this artistic accident or her life experiences, the need to give back and help strengthen her community has prompted Glass to begin working toward creating a nonprofit benefiting women and children leaving domestic violence situations. “As the owner of a woman-owned and operated studio with a heart for feminism and women’s empowerment, I feel a responsibility to give back,” she says. She hopes that proceeds from her Clay Bae merch sales will soon allow her to offer survivors a free artistic respite, if even just for a few hours. Drawing inspiration from the sandy beaches and the calming blue waves of the nearby ocean, Glass says her preferred mediums are stoneware and porcelain. Each of her pieces is lovingly handcrafted from start to finish, with elements that make them one-of-a-kind. Her work has been featured in multiple industry magazines, ads and on Miami’s Deco Drive. Foodies can also peep her art at hot spot Takato, where her commissioned works are on display.
So, what’s next for the Clay Bae? “I’m working on several large-scale immersive installations, incorporating ceramic pieces, larger hand-thrown porcelain vessels and dinnerware sets,” she says, adding that she plans to “continue to grow the pottery studio so we can offer more workshops and have more members.”
Her FriendsWithYou collaborative kintsugi piece is available at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale’s Museum store.
For more information on class packages, private lessons and sales, visit SarahGlassCeramics.com or follow her on Instagram at @SarahGlass_Ceramics. Save 30% on any handmade ceramics and pottery wheel classes, courses and memberships online with code: VENICE.