By The Donut Shop Team
Photography by Eric Dorr
We were so excited and lucky enough to snag an interview with Boulder-based artist, Bridget Dorr. Bridget’s creative work stems from the idea of welcoming people into a shared space to discuss ideas bigger than themselves–an idea that we are quite familiar with here at the Donut Shop. While Bridget is primarily focusing on her ceramics work at the moment, she is continually involved in other creative projects. You can find Bridget’s work on Instagram, her website, and for sale on Etsy.
1. What made you decide to start Bridget Dorr Ceramics? Did you always have a passion for ceramics and creating art? Did you attend art school?
BD: I opened my ceramic business about two years ago when I was working as an art teacher. I loved the job and the work I did everyday but something was missing. I was constantly immersed in art materials but never creating myself, it felt very empty for me. I felt it was hard for me to make the transition from being an art teacher to becoming an artist. Now that I’ve made the switch I can’t believe I was holding back all those years.
I went to school to study Art Therapy, I had an even mix of fine art and psychology classes. Ceramics I was a general class I was required to take my freshman year and it forever changed my life. I quickly declared a ceramics minor and fell in love with the medium.
2. I know that you have experience working with other art mediums as well, can you tell us a little bit about the portraits you create of couples? What is the most fun aspect of those projects?
BD: I do! Those started as a Valentine’s Day gift for my now husband a few years ago. I created a paper cutout version of him and I, as well as some meaningful objects to us. I then got the idea to turn the pieces into a stop motion video of us moving from the east coast out to Boulder. I had no idea when I started the project that it would take so much time and turn out to be so adorable. It was such a hit with him and the few friends I showed that people started asking me if I would make portraits of them and their loved ones. I added this service to my Etsy shop and it was a huge hit. I even made a stop motion wedding invite for a couple. I love personalized projects. I haven’t done one in a long time but I would love to keep paper art in my repertoire, but I’m not sure just how yet.
3. Do you have any artistic role models? Where do you find inspiration for the work you do?
BD: I have tons of ceramic role models; some are teachers, friends, and lots I’ve found on social media. What makes the ceramic community so wonderful to me is that potters are very much regular people. Ceramics is a humbling art form and doesn’t take on the same highbrow undertone you find with painting and other fine art mediums. So most of my idols are very regular people who happen to make beautiful wares in their spare time. I love functional pottery and find my inspiration from gathers and meal time. I love thinking about making pottery that will transform the experience of enjoying a meal.
4. What challenges did you face when starting your business? What challenges do you still face today?
BD: I struggled most with putting my art work out for others to see and talking about myself as an artist. I was so afraid to release a set of ceramics because I thought it wasn’t good enough. I knew I had to take the chance if I ever wanted to do this for real. While it was nerve-wracking, I loved hearing feedback from my community and have become a better potter with every new piece I’ve made. Right now my biggest struggle is working a full-time job while creating work. There is not enough time in the day! I also struggle with balancing creating art and marketing/advertising. Both are so time consuming and necessary but sometimes I feel like I do one more than the other–it hasn’t been seamless for me.
5. Where do you create your artwork? Do you rent studio time, have your own kiln?
BD: I create all pieces of work on my kitchen table! I should mention my apartment is downtown and only 300 sq. feet. It is tight but I make it work and appreciate every little inch of space I use. I fire all my pieces in a community kiln. I currently own a kiln but have it in storage because I don’t have anywhere to put it. While my situation isn’t ideal, I feel very grateful that I have a kitchen table and a kiln to fire my pieces in.
6. Can you describe your typical work day for us?
BD: I always start early in the morning with a cup of tea. I like to grab a handmade mug, usually one made by a friend. I usually make multiples so I will start by rolling out clay and cutting all the slabs and pieces I will need to make my wares. I let them set (dry out just a little) and then assemble the pieces. Once they have all become leather hard (hardened but not all the way) I carve into them and manipulate them. I like to make multiples of one item the whole day i’m in the studio. For example I made 22+ mugs this Saturday for a big order I have going out.
7. Are there any themes or color schemes that you like to stick with? If so, what inspires you to do so?
BD: Currently, I am doing a lot of line work. I’ve been keeping my glazes simple, black and white, but doing intricate carving. I usually carve into the clay to create patterns. I would like to work more with geometric line work and patterns.
8. I understand that you have been attending a lot of craft fairs and artist showcases, can you tell us a little bit more about what that art community is like, specifically for female artists?
BD: I have, I just participated in my first festival this summer. I have had great experiences with the art/craft community thus far. I have met a lot of women who are pursuing their craft full-time and it is incredibly inspiring (#ladyboss). I feel fortunate to be able to ask them questions and learn from their business models. This community of women creators is very strong and vibrant and gives me so much inspiration and momentum. I feel like i’ve just experienced the tip of the iceberg with this community and I can’t wait to experience more.
9. Boulder, Colorado seems to be a town of triathletes and mountain people. What is the ceramic and art scene like there?
BD: While Boulder is the athletic capital of the world, or so it seems, there is a very rich and strong ceramic community here. A lot of quintessential artists started right here in Boulder in the ‘60s. We have one of the most beautiful pottery studios in the country started by Betty Woodman right on the hill (the Boulder Pottery Lab). Colorado is home to many renowned ceramic artists. I also think a lot of what Boulder stands for makes it the perfect place to create ceramics for me. It’s appreciation for local food, artisans, and mindfulness resonate with me and my philosophies in ceramics.
10. Are there any specific projects that we can expect to see from you in the future?
BD: Yes, I would love to find more ways to engage with my community. I am thinking about ideas for a newsletter and I’m working on a more interactive project. I would love to start expanding my pieces from dishes and cups to serving platters and more nuanced pieces for the tabletop. I also just bought gold luster and cannot wait to use it!