My name is Amy Hamley, and I’m the maker and designer behind Redraven Studios, a line of handmade porcelain keepsakes based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
I’ve been a ceramic artist for nearly fifteen years, and I was trained formally as both a potter and a painter. My work has evolved over time from functional pottery, to small slab-worked jewelry, to items slip cast from handmade molds. The progressions in my work can all be attributed to time and place. After college, I was teaching wheel-throwing classes at a community ceramics studio, but it left me with little time to focus on my own work. I began to take clay home with me and make small jewelry pieces in my kitchen after hours. As my business grew, the desire to make more than jewelry did as well.
I’ve always been obsessed with design, and am constantly looking at objects and imagining them cast in porcelain. When I met my husband Ryan in 2010, my work definitely took a sentimental turn. Ryan and I are both natives of western Pennsylvania where rural landscapes and farmland are plentiful. For me, finding love and discovering objects around his family farm turned out to be the perfect catalyst for capturing fleeting moments in porcelain.
Once I select an item that I would like to recreate in porcelain, I make a plaster mold and begin to slip cast the porcelain reproductions. The pieces then go through their usual firing processes of bisque, glaze, and a third firing for the gold and platinum luster. The painterly side of me then determines the surface treatment of each piece. The manner in which I finish my work varies based on its end function, whether decorative or an everyday-use object. I am overly diligent at prototyping, so I often make more than a few test pieces for our home to see how they work in an actual space.
I am very fortunate to have discovered exactly how I want to spend my days. Creating is what I’ve always wanted to do, but it wasn’t until I took the leap into being a full-time maker that things really came together. Etsy has allowed that dream to take shape – by providing a platform with an engaged audience, Etsy opened the door for growth and a sustainable business model. Since opening my Etsy shop, I made the move to full-time self-employment and found a home in a larger studio space. My hope is to continue to expand my line for both retail and wholesale, and create items that people will use and enjoy. In the immediate future, a line of dinnerware and functional pieces are in the works for summer 2014. Follow Redraven Studios on Instagram and Facebook for updates and inspiration.
All photographs by Janelle Bendycki.