Melissa Weiss is a studio potter located in Asheville, NC. She makes each piece by hand. Melissa digs her own clay off her land in NW Arkansas. She turns this clay into a slip and screens the big rocks out, and then adds some dry clays, feldspar and sand. Next, she takes this liquid clay and pours it into screened racks lined with sheets. The water slowly drips out over a few weeks and the clay is then taken out of the racks and run through a pug mill to further mix it. It is then ready for making pots.
I use a variety of methods to make the pots; wheel thrown, pinched, slab constructed. All the pots are dipped in a white slip and fired to a lower temperature called bisque. Then they are glazed with glazes made from dry ingredients. These glazes are a variety of celadons and ash glazes. These pots are high fired in a gas reduction kiln. Due to the nature of the minimally processed wild clay there are occasionally small rocks, fissures, and iron specks; these occurrences do not compromise the function of the pot. All the pots are carefully checked before going out to the world. All of the pots are functional and food safe. They are also dishwasher and microwave safe.
“I spent all my summers in Queens, NY.
My mother’s whole family lived in one row house. My mother’s middle sister and her husband and my three cousins lived in the basement apartment. My grandparents and my mother’s youngest sister and my other cousin lived in the middle floor and my grandmother’s sister lived on the top floor. My brother and I lived in this house for three months every year our entire childhood.
My summers in this house were rich with family and tradition and that is what inspires me to make beautiful, useful objects for everyday life. My memories are the most colorful and profound from those times.
My family is Sicilian. My grandmother made a traditional Italian feast every Sunday for the whole family who would travel from Brooklyn and New Jersey bearing cardboard boxes tied in twine full of Italian cookies, loaves of semolina bread, Italian ices, and bottles of seltzer water. My grandmother would be in the kitchen before sunrise cooking a giant pot of spaghetti sauce, meatballs, veal cutlets, and eggplant. My grandfather would sit in a vinyl chair in the tiny kitchen grating pecorino by hand, for what seemed like hours, next to the window where the clothes hung out on the line in the sticky heat of a NYC summer.
The house was filled with smells, sounds, and colors I can recall to this day for the life they possessed. I make pots to belong in these memories. Dishes to celebrate family and tradition. Utilitarian objects rustic, useful, simple, and beautiful to be granted a place at my grandmother’s table for Sunday dinner.”