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A Day in the Life of Pottery by Osa

May 4, 2018

by Katie Hawley

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Looking at a finished piece of pottery—perfectly solid, cool to the touch, sturdy and functional in your hands—it’s easy to forget all the hard work that went into bringing it to life. The hours spent mixing glazes, reclaiming ​buckets of clay scraps​, and waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for the kiln to finish firing. But for Baton Rouge-based ceramicist Osa Atoe, who took her first pottery class in a community studio in 2013, it was those less glamorous moments that drew her to the craft—and confirmed her passion for working with clay. “I got really obsessed with everything about it, even the more mundane aspects,” recalls the Pottery By Osa owner. “I would go home and watch YouTube videos of people centering clay on the wheel for hours—I was totally absorbed.”

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For the lifelong musician, who’d spent much of the prior decade on the road touring with various punk bands, the timing was right. “It was a fade-in, fade-out kind of situation where I started taking pottery classes right when one of my last bands was breaking up,” explains Osa. “It gave me a new form of expression, and when that band ended, I went full-force into pottery—I instantly fell in love with it. Not that I was good at it right away, but that’s how you know you love something: when you don’t care and you just want to keep going.”

Over the last five years Osa has done exactly that, continuing to hone her skills and develop her line of handmade, functional terra-cotta pottery. Her distinct point of view shines through in her geometric-patterned homewares, all finished in an understated palette of handmade black, white, and turquoise glazes—but she’s the first to tell you her artistic journey is far from over. “In pottery terms, five years is nothing. I’m still a beginner,” says Osa. “I’m looking at all the stuff I’m making as a great start, and people have been really receptive to it, but I’d like my work to continue to evolve.”

We tagged along with this punk rocker-turned-potter for a typical day her Louisiana life.

Osa outside her home with her husband, Joey, and two rescue pups, Lola and Bayou

Taking Lola for a stroll around University Lake

Osa at work in her garage studio

7:30am Paws in the park

My husband Joey and I moved to Baton Rouge from New Orleans a year ago, so I’m still finding new spots, but the BREC system of local parks is really amazing. There are so many trails, lakes, and live oaks everywhere. We have two dogs: Lola, a little terrier mix, and Bayou, a big blockhead pitbull mix, and we like to take them for long walks and enjoy being outside together. Joey and I even had our wedding outside, at LSU’s Hilltop Arboretum here in Baton Rouge.

9:00am At the wheel

On a typical day, I start work by 8:30 or 9:00. My studio is in a garage behind our house. I have a big work table in the back and a wedging table near the front. My wheel is set up next to a smaller work table with my tools and glazes, and my kiln is in a separate shed in the backyard. When we were moving here, it all came together really magically. My landlord is a kind of renaissance, Jack-of-all-trades type and he had done ceramics in the past, so when I asked him if it was OK to rewire the space for my kiln he was totally fine with it.

When it comes to making my pieces, it usually takes me a couple of weeks from start to finish because I work in batches; I’m never just working on one piece at a time. And there’s always some kind of flaw in any given batch—I ​never have 100% of my pieces come out sellable. Sometimes things can be corrected by refiring, but part of working with pottery is that you always​​ have loss. Pieces fail at every stage.

Process-wise, ​I probably love carving patterns the most. The patterns that I use refer back to the geometric designs found on pottery and other crafts from all over the world—I love that shared commonality.

Enjoying a coffee at Magpie Cafe

Pattern carving in the LSU campus ceramics studio

Talking tunes and browsing albums with Capitol City Records owner Dana Labat

12:00pm Un petit café

I really like this coffee shop called Magpie. They have a new downtown location that opened in the last year or so. Baton Rouge is kind of small, so when things like that happen you hear about it quickly. It’s super pretty inside—there’s this really nice black-and-white geometric tile on the espresso bar, and great natural lighting. It’s a nice spot for a day-date. I really love coffee but I have to limit the amount that I drink because caffeine makes me a little crazy. But I used to work at a coffee shop, so I acquired a taste for it.

12:30pm Back to school

I’m currently doing a year-long, post-baccalaureate ceramics program at LSU. They have the number seven ceramics program in the nation and it happens to be in my backyard, so I just felt, why not take advantage of this while I’m here? I’m taking two classes this semester: an intro to hand-building class and a graduate seminar about developing concepts. The program is perfect for people like me who don’t necessarily have a fine arts background but want to get their foot in the door in case they decide to pursue an MFA down the road. I’m not sure if I want to do that—I think I want to be a maker more than I want to be in academia—but it’s been really valuable in terms of exposure to new techniques and resources that I can use to help my business grow.

3:00pm Turntable time

Even though I don’t play anymore, my hobby is definitely still music. I shifted my passion from making it to being a fan. My dad is a record collector—he’s always looking for new music, and I’m the same way. I have a huge collection. My favorite record store here in town is called Capitol City Records and it’s actually owned by my friend Raegan’s dad, Dana Labat. He’s really cool. He grew up in New Orleans and he used to run a new-wave club back in the ’80s in this little town between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. He’s been into punk and new wave his entire life, so I love to go in there and talk to him about what things were like for musicians back then.

Setting up for a pop-up market at Red Onion Nursery

Waiting to grab a bite to eat at Baton Rouge comfort food favorite The Chimes

4:00pm Greenery fix

Red Onion Nursery is the most beautiful nursery in the area—their greenhouse is on a few wooded acres of property right outside of town and it’s just gorgeous. I mostly love it as a consumer, but I’ve also teamed up with them to do a couple pop-ups at their store. I buy a lot of plants. Some are for me, but because I sell a lot of planters, it’s nice to have some for displays, too. I know there’s a real succulent craze going on, and I do love succulents a lot, but I’m also a big fan of tropical low-light plants. I really like elephant ear plants, and I have a bunch of ​calathea plants that look like they have patterns painted on the leaves.

5:30pm Chicken and biscuits

For food, The Chimes is a local Baton Rouge staple. It’s really close to LSU’s campus, and it’s also right next door to the Varsity Theatre, which is a rock venue, so if you’re going to a show it’s easy to start out at The Chimes for a drink or some food beforehand. They have a good mix of regular bar food and Louisiana food, like po’ boys, gumbo, jambalaya, and blackened catfish. Nothing that’s healthy, but I really love their chicken and biscuits.

Photographs by Morgan & Owens.

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59 comments

  • cuteexpressions123

    Cutie Expressions from CutieExpressions said 1 year ago

    Beautiful creations! Thanks for sharing!

  • NenasArtandDesigns

    NenasArtandDesigns from NenasArtandDesigns said 1 year ago

    Beautiful work! Are you on instagram?

  • StudioVerto

    Denenge Design, Inc. from DenengeDesign said 1 year ago

    Love Pottery by Osa and learning more about your work and life through this feature! Wishing you continued success and happiness!

  • TreasuredMemoryLane

    Sujata from TreasuredMemoryLane said 1 year ago

    Beautiful pottery creations! A nice peek in your day schedule!

  • lokenloomweaving

    Donna Laken from LokenLoomWeaving said 1 year ago

    Simply beautiful designs...love the rich, earthy colors! Congrats on the feature! Wishing you continued success!

  • savegreendesigns

    Veronica Gardea from savegreendesigns said 1 year ago

    Amazing work❤❤❤

  • kgarrett1966

    R.M Garrett from ArtisticAcrylics said 1 year ago

    You are amazing!! Punk Rocker, Pottery maker, music collector, furthering your education in a ceramics program at LSU, okay... in my next life I want to be You!! Your ceramics are beautiful and unique, and you are truly the trailblazer of your own path. I will work to be that brave in my own life. Those that follow the whisperings of their soul, create magic in their lives. thanks for being an inspiration, and sharing such a fascinating journey!!!

  • IzjuminkaOlga

    Olga Kaplina from KnitteditemsbyOlga said 1 year ago

    Beautiful work!

  • bedouin

    Nicole from Crackerjackarma said 1 year ago

    Beee U tiful inside and out ! A new fave for me ~!~ Cheers to much continued success ~*~

  • dominna

    Katrina Dzerkale from Dominna said 1 year ago

    ouh dear lord ! Those plates ! And that mug ! Some seriously beautiful stuff !

  • elizabethforster

    elle and belle Forster from elleandbellejewelry said 1 year ago

    Osa, your pottery is beautiful...love the patterns and texture! Difficult to choose but I think I love the pitcher the best. Your displays and photos are perfect. All the best!

  • apaperaffaire

    Holly Havnaer from apaperaffaire said 1 year ago

    Congrats on the feature! I loved reading your story and admiring your pottery and photos. Now I want to go to Baton Rouge!

  • cfgkyxln

    Leo Nuvunga from AfricanCraftsCenter said 1 year ago

    Very beautiful creations! Congrats!

  • ednaarnold217

    Edna Arnold said 1 year ago

    OMGoodness! I need an invite. Your place is a scenery of pure relaxation, among so many beautiful, and wonderful things that shows your creative side. Your pitcher is one of my favorite pieces you have created. Osa ... OH SO AMAZING! YOU GO GIRL!

  • Bagitconscious

    Lizzy from Bagitconscious said 1 year ago

    I love your work and you big friendly smile :)

  • annawhitehorne1

    Anna from BlueHyacinthVintage said 1 year ago

    Osa is an inspiration. I absolutely love her designs!

  • mrsakarn

    cindy Q. from mrsakarn said 1 year ago

    Beautiful work!!!! Congrats and wishing you many years of making beautiful pottery!

  • infinitlit

    Farideh Nouri from FlairPaintings said 1 year ago

    Beautiful artworks. Thank you for sharing :)

  • Arey

    sue orosz from Arey said 1 year ago

    what an inspirational story. to change careers and let one passion overlap the other is amazing. not to mention some super gorgeous pottery. punk rock and pottery always win. wonderful!

  • husbandfatherfriend

    Michael Robinson from CarvedAccessories said 1 year ago

    Love the ceramic utensil holder. Awesome work

  • dfn06qfi

    TattooIcon from TattooIcon said 1 year ago

    Very nice shop! Grats!

  • TropicalGarden

    TropicalGarden from TropicalGarden said 1 year ago

    Impressive pottery creations! Congratulations on the feature!

  • decoratethediva

    Renee Bowen from decoratethediva said 1 year ago

    Love her style!

  • cardhugs

    Rosemary Lambert from cardhugs said 1 year ago

    Best of the Best! This lady has it nailed! Love she's always wanting to learn more!

  • tabbey13

    Teena from Abbeyoaks said 1 year ago

    Amazing work!! Congrats on the feature!

  • rachbing

    Rachel Bingaman from BingArt said 1 year ago

    How lovely! Your work is beautiful :)

  • Zafirah

    Zafirah from KnitsPasse said 1 year ago

    The colors and designs are AWESOME.

  • lizroca

    lizroca said 1 year ago

    Such a fun feature! Your work is lovely.

  • rellyh

    Relly from RelsFindsNapaValley said 1 year ago

    I love the potteries by Osa. The geometric patterns are beautiful and timeless. Thank you for this article, wonderful story of day activities make Baton Rouge a place to visit and see the quaint town with all the wonderful shops with pop-up shop Pottery By Osa.

  • maximoart

    Maximo Pizarro from maximoart said 1 year ago

    Gorgeous work.....inspiring story!!!

  • noneenator

    pam walt. from NoNeenator said 1 year ago

    Wow, what an inspiration! Not blessed with artistic abilities, but definitely a lover of art. Thank you for warming my heart by sharing these lovely artists with me.

  • martimowse

    Marti Earnest from MartisMinis said 1 year ago

    Amazing story and amazing work Osa! I love seeing what inspires people to do what makes them happy ( or sometimes makes them crazy !) You truely are a gifted potter! Would love to hear your music too :).

  • gk2829

    Bybee Vintage from BYBEEVINTAGE said 1 year ago

    So talented!

  • RandMhandmade

    Renee from RandMhandmade said 1 year ago

    One of my favorite features!! So much information just about you....wishing continual success ; )

  • josetterice

    Josette Rice said 1 year ago

    Love your work! Thanks for sharing your story.

  • medorakea

    Medora Kea from MedoraKea said 1 year ago

    One of my favorite instagram accounts for a year or two now! I can't wait till I have some of your art in my home.

  • littlechook

    littlechook from littlechook said 1 year ago

    Please can I swap lives with you? This is the coolest interview ever.

  • rhondastubbs2

    Rhonda Stubbs from RhondaCorner said 1 year ago

    Great look and great story. Keep up the great work and I wish you the very best on your future endeavors.

  • sophiejuramy

    Sophie Juramy from SophieLadyDeParis said 1 year ago

    Awesome design! Love your geometrical patterns. Beautiful shop!

  • laburcar

    Linda from Northwindknits said 1 year ago

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. I absolutely love the geometric patterns and the terracotta color with the subdued white and turquoise glazes!

  • FireHorseTextiles

    Julia K Walton from JuliaKWalton said 1 year ago

    Gorgeous ceramics :o)

  • judymeredith497

    Judy Meredith said 1 year ago

    What an inspirational story of Osa. Her work is beautiful, though I've not seen it in person. However, knowing she's in Baton Rouge, that could be a good reason for a nice road from Jackson, MS!!!

  • tikiglam1

    Pretty Printell from PrettyPrintell1 said 1 year ago

    Beautiful work and story!!

  • beachdaisy7

    Kim Cole from BeachDaisyJewelry said 1 year ago

    Super cool designs! Congrats on the feature and continued success!

  • nrhbwwog

    KIM said 1 year ago

    + + + OSA DOES BEAUTIFUL MATICULIOUS NATURAL WORK & BY LOOKING IN BOTH HER EYES , I SEE NOTHING BUT LIGHT & LOVE , I'VE OBSERVED OVER THE YEARS THAT MOST PEOPLES EYES ARE NOT " BOTH TRUE & FULL OF LIGHT " + BUT OSA'S ARE BOTH FULL OF LIGHT & LOVE ! ! ! + & HER WORK THEREFORE SHINES "ALSO :-) " . . . SINCERLY , KIM RICE

  • PokutniaAnna

    Anna from FairyToysWorld said 1 year ago

    Oh, your plates are amazing! You made the very beautiful things.

  • EdgYSheeQ

    Cheriesse from TheReeBrand said 1 year ago

    Beautiful Work!!

  • faithwallace1

    Faith Wallace said 1 year ago

    Beautiful pottery.

  • roxannaandrews

    Roxanna Andrews from RoxiesCardShop said 1 year ago

    Really beautiful pottery. Love it.

  • glitters

    blackhorn from WhitehornVintage said 1 year ago

    Wow. I LOVED this article! I'm in love with Osa, her life and her work. So inspirational. Hard to say what's cutest: her, her footed planters, her dogs, or her husband!

  • stormylovesart

    stormylovesart from stormylovesart said 1 year ago

    You are the coolest chick I've seen in quite sometime! Musician, Punk Rock and Pottery! Wow! Beautiful art that you are making. Wishing you much continued success and happiness, Osa! I loved Baton Rouge when we visited driving through a few years back. Was lucky to dine at Chimes. Killer food and a kick ass town! Blessings on your Magical Journey ;)

  • gitamaria2014

    maria fisher from gitayogaclothing said 1 year ago

    Amazing creations! Thank you sharing and inspiring!

  • holybvira

    Vira Golubchak from Golubchak said 195 days ago

    Amazing work and great story! Congratulations on the feature! Good luck!

  • Shoequeen1961

    Shoequeen1961 from NamesofGodBookmarks said 193 days ago

    Beautiful and talented! Congratulations--

  • TimelessTrinkets

    Marcella from TimelessTrinkets said 191 days ago

    Sounds like a lovely place to live! Beautiful creations too!

  • jacquelinellandry

    jacquelinellandry said 190 days ago

    What stunning work! I'm so glad I found this great feature of a fellow Louisianan. Wishing you all the best for continued success, Osa!

  • TerraTreasures

    Cynthia Fardan from TerraTreasures said 175 days ago

    I enjoyed reading about Osa. I liked seeing her hand built pottery and her shop is now one of my favorites. Happy creating Osa!

  • lagattijr

    lagattijr said 158 days ago

    I received my first order (but definitely not my last) of Pottery by Osa a couple of days ago, and so I was tickled to find this Day in the Life feature pop up on my etsy page last night. I admire pottery and have a few other fine pieces that I found at local summer craft fairs; but Osa's work is distinctive, partly because her medium is the beautiful terra cotta clay with precision hand carving and also for her combination of glazed and unglazed surfaces on each piece. After reading this article, I realized the real reason her functional art grabs me the way it does is that she channels all of the various forms of life and energy that surround her down there in Baton Rouge and invests it in pottery making, and no doubt everything else she does. How lucky are the people who can just stop into the Red Onion Nursery and meet Osa and go home with both a work of art and life.

  • lagattijr

    lagattijr said 158 days ago

    I just received my first (but definitely not my last) order of Pottery by Osa a couple of days ago and so was tickled when this feature popped up on my etsy page yesterday. I admire hand made pottery and have a few fine pieces that I acquired locally at summer craft shows. But Osa's pottery is very distinctive, I thought, because of her use of terra cotta clay with her own hand carving and also because she combines glazed and unglazed surfaces in each piece. Now that I have read this article, I realize that Osa channels all the various forms of life and energy that surround her in Baton Rouge to create these functional works of art. There are strong, positive vibes that you can't help picking up as you hold and use her pottery. How lucky the people are who can just walk into the Red Onion Plant Nursery and meet Osa and then go home with two forms of creation.

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