Tacoma WA

Photography by Mary Kalhor

Featuring Amelia Wrede Davis

Where are you from/where did you grow up?
I am from unceded Abenaki land in the Champlain Valley of northerly Vermont.

Where were you photographed for this story?
I was photographed in my home here on unceded Puyallup + Coast Salish land along the Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington where I live and work out of.

Please describe who you are/what you do.
I am a potter and interdisciplinary artist/human. When I am not in the studio, I can most often be found cooking + baking while listening to my favorite records, knitting, sewing, out of a walk in the woods or at the beach with my dog, gardening, or learning about herbal medicine and the plants around me. I went to school for environmental studies and so very much consider my work with clay to blossom out of that context.  

What are you working on/interested in/preoccupied with at the moment?
Winter is the time where I feel most creative, nourished, and filled with ideas. Creeping slowly into spring, it always feels like I then start scrambling to figure out what I can actually achieve as one human with just two hands! Last year I made a collection of one-of-a-kind vases that were all different and a break from making just my everyday collection. It felt so special to *play*- not even really drawing out the designs in advance, but rather just seeing what came up when I sat down at the wheel with each lump of clay. I am thrilled to do another batch in time for a summer solstice release. There is nothing better than bringing flowers inside this time of year. I also have a few other exciting projects up my sleeve…folding in some new colors and (slowly) starting to think about in person events again.

What does community mean to you and where do you find it?
Community means a lot of different things to me right now. It means having a sense of place with the surroundings. It also feels like “home”, emotionally and physically, in a sense of the heart feeling at ease and nourished. It looks like both feeling supported and providing support- a very active love. Currently, community is most easily found for me while taking walks in the woods and in the presence of all these plant friends I have come to know over the years. My human community has become peppered all over the country- with my closest friends and family very scattered, and still feeling quite new in the place I have relatively recently begun to call home. As well as with quarantine and not seeing many other humans than my partner on a regular basis, the greater community of plants and other non-human life forms feels very familiar and abundant! (Perhaps spoken like a true introvert!)


What are some of your self care rituals/routines?
Nettle infusions (for me and my dog Piper!), daily dog walks that have always been the thing that keeps me feeling at ease, and giving myself time each day to turn my brain off. Especially lately, life is so heavy and burnout feels easily reached, so watching something funny or walking to get ice cream or having a solo dance party to let my body move in the weird ways it wants to shake everything off, haha. I pour a lot of myself into my daily work and the gift I give myself everyday is to give my overthinking/overfeeling heart and brain a break!
Another ritual that has become very comforting is tending to and freshening the flowers we placed on a little table in honor of one of our dogs who passed away a few weeks ago. It has been such a sad time for us, and to always have fresh flowers beside her ashes, collar, bowl, and some other reminders of our time together makes her presence still feel alive and beautiful. Flowers are the perfect reminder of impermanence and that you can’t fight the cycle of life- and there is beauty in that too. Replacing the water and recutting the stems feels like self-care and love.  

Please share a product/art piece/project that you have created/worked on, that most resonates with you currently.
The thing I love most about what I do is making everyday objects. There is a beautiful simplicity in the things we gravitate towards using most and that can travel along with us as our micro-tastes shift and change with the seasons or through the years. The Forage Bowl is a bowl that I started making about 4 years ago now. It is the thing I eat out of 99% of time and I feel so strongly about its place in the world! More than anything “exciting and new”, I love looking around to see the things that have stood the test of time with me after years have passed. It makes me feel like I am doing the work I want to do as a potter and lover of everything relating to home-life.

Your clay offerings are beautifully considered objects for every day use, how long have you been working on AWD ceramics and how has your business evolved over the years?
I have been working with clay for 13 years now, and started my business about 5 years ago. It has been a long winding love that has evolved slowly over time and (somewhat unexpectedly) into what it is now. I never foresaw it as a career path…but here we are! Especially in the last 5 years, the evolution has been (and continues to be) getting to the root of what it is I am trying to do and say through clay. I don’t want it to just be about making and selling pots, but rather really aligning with these vessels *as vessels* for something bigger. As well as exploring what it means to be a business owner and not add to the circus of impulsive consumerism. I have struggled with growth and what “success” means and feels like to ME rather than in terms of some cultural concept of what we are too often taught it means in the world of late stage capitalism (more and more, bigger and bigger). Being just one person behind the work, I have felt a lot of external pressure to add employees and grow production just because I “can” and the demand is there.
After dabbling with that slightly and trying to force something bigger, I realized that my love of working with clay is really just about me in my studio. I don’t want to have a studio outside of my home. I don’t want to be in an office all day while other people are making the pieces (or really be around many other people on a daily basis at all!!). Having a small-scale footprint as a business and business owner is very underrated and I think something that should be celebrated more. Success does not have to look like linear growth in every aspect! It has been interesting to observe how since coming to that conclusion for myself on a deep level, my business has really begun to feel steady and abundant!  All that to say…there is no one way to run a business and I think that is something I have learned (and given myself permission to embrace) just through trial and error.


pick a current favourite...

a song -
Sleeping by The Band

a book -
Feminism is for Everybody by Bell Hooks

a scent -
Artemisia tridentata (great basin sagebrush)

an item of clothing -
My Sunday Monday Baya Bandana in Sage- making me feel chic even when my hair is a mess and I haven’t showered in a while, haha!

plant/flower -
Always the most difficult question…right now in this moment, I can’t help but think about all the tenderly unfurling bracken and western sword ferns in the forest right now up here in the pacific northwest (of the so-called united states). It is so special to witness their annual reentrance that slowly fills in all their empty spaces they leave behind come winter. It is sweet to feel the forest full with new life again
a recipe -
I made a rhubarb pie with a browned butter hazelnut-almond streusel from Petra “Petee” Paresez’s book Pie For Everyone. It was so delicious- the balance of the warm toasted nuts and acidic rhubarb! I love summer pies. And rhubarb feels like such a gift in color and taste each spring!

artist/maker -
I am deeply intrigued by the wide range of the works from Ilonka Karasz at the moment