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Featured Shop: Julia E. Dean

Jan 12, 2015

by Julia E. Dean handmade and vintage goods

My name is Julia E. Dean, and I’m a wife, mother, designer and potter enjoying life and creative community in Ithaca, New York.


My husband and I moved from North Carolina to upstate New York in 2007. The natural beauty and warm, intentional spirit of the people here simply wouldn’t let us go after we visited the area. We had a strange and difficult 12 months following that trip; it was a time full of doubt and trust, fear and courage. By the end of it all, we were driving north in a U-haul with our three-year-old. During that time of discernment, we learned so much about ourselves, our marriage, the magnitude of our dreams, and the vision we had for our small family.


I fell in love with clay at a young age. I’ve been making pots since college, but it was the fortitude I found inside myself when we relocated and the physical beauty surrounding me in my new home that inspired the collections you see in my shop today. I began by gathering leaves during my daily walks in the woods; then, I would bring them back to my studio and explore ways to record them in clay. What I see looking back is that I was really recording my own story in clay – as the process revealed itself, I was discovering which forms I really loved making. Then in 2011, I created my Etsy shop. I was so proud to share the results of my work.


Since then, I’ve added a new design to my shop each year, including an entire collection called “Beachcomber,” in which I record the impressions of shells. Julia E. Dean, Inc. is now three years old; opening my business and getting so much international exposure and guidance from the Etsy community has led to exciting growth. We’re a certified Living Wage Employer with three part-time helpers, and we hold more than 50 wholesale accounts across the United States.


Although our tiny basement studio space has served us well, we are ecstatic to be moving into a new studio this summer. The new space will be large enough to house our production, as well as establish a teaching studio for the community. I couldn’t be more excited to provide a place for students and community members to learn and grow.

Follow Julia E. Dean on Facebook and Instagram.

Maker and studio photographs by Kristine Tsui, product photographs by Dede Hatch.



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