By: Taylor Baker, Mills

Photos: Cydney Holm

There is an indescribable joy in creating with our hands. It’s a connection to the past and an opportunity to control each aspect of our art.

There also exists an intolerable agony. A lonely pursuit of perfection met with more dissatisfaction than contentment.

Yet, we still create.

Isabel Glatthorn creates by hand, yielding timeless ceramics that serve homes and those that inhabit them. Her pieces are alive, exuding a quiet confidence that she herself shares with each smile.

Through a series of conversations, we learned how Isabel balances the scale between joy and agony from concept to completion.

1. Tell us how you got into ceramics and what you love most about your work.

My mom is a potter and taught pottery for a long time in her 20’s, so we’d always mess around with clay when I was growing up. It wasn’t until I got to freshman year of high school that I took a full-on class, and my teacher taught me how to throw and sculpt. I did internships and took classes throughout high school, so that’s where I got my foundational learning. I graduated from UT with a major in Advertising and worked a few different tech jobs before pursuing ceramics as a profession. I worked for several different potters and learned from amazing teachers before venturing out on my own.

My favorite part of my work is the flow of making something with my hands and keeping my awareness with the pots that I’m working on. It provides me with a calm wavelength that I can be on in my life.  I love the nature of the process and how it takes time and patience and multiple different steps to make pottery. It’s really rewarding when you finish a piece after a minimum of a week and a half and it’ll last forever...unless someone drops it. I love that from 9 am-4 pm my hands are dirty and I can’t be on my phone. It’s nice in a world that’s increasingly more digital and device-oriented to have a craft that’s separate from that.

2. How would you describe the style of your pieces? 

I come at my pottery with both my art background as well as my design background; when I was working on brands I always wanted to just do one trick or detail that stood out and made it simple and tasteful and calming. That design-oriented thinking applies to my pottery a lot. My work is simple and soothing with earth tones; the color palettes and textures are inspired by the landscape in Texas - whether that be the mountains in West Texas or the sunset. 

The style of my work is a combination of the southwest, as well as a practice in simplicity. It’s also influenced by Japanese pottery - coincidentally I work for a lot of Japanese restaurants like Tenten, Otoko, dipdipdip Tatsu-Ya, and Sushi Junai Omakase. I went on a trip to Japan last year, and I think the Japanese do “simple” really well. I love their concept of wabi-sabi, which symbolizes impermanence and finding beauty in the imperfect and goes hand in hand with the ceramic making process.

3. Where does your inspiration come from?

The humble making of a vessel is inspiring to me. I love the process of taking clay and making it into something that is useful and valuable for the person using it. I also gain inspiration from my east coast Connecticut roots, the Texas landscape, and Japanese craftsmanship. 

4. Why did you decide on the name Soul Matter Studio? 

Naming my business was a long process. I was working on an illustration project on the side for a while called Soul Matter, and the intention was ‘what does the connection between people look like?’. We have what we can see and hear, and our 5 senses to perceive things but there’s so much more. I wanted to try to depict what it’s like to feel somebody else’s energy. 

When it came to naming my business, Soul Matter was so perfect because it represents rebelling against what I was ‘supposed to do with my life’, and this feels like my soul. It’s more of something that my heart is in as well as the physical matter of the piece - the physical objects that I create are imbued with my soul energy. It matters that your soul is allowed to breathe in this life and what you spend your time doing; I love that the pieces I make are outside of the corporate circle. All of my pieces are made with happiness and gratitude. 

5. What’s your favorite step in the creation process? 

Taking things out of the kiln feels like Christmas morning, but I also really enjoy throwing on the wheel when the clay’s wet. That’s a skill I’ve been developing for a super long time, and it feels really rewarding when I see myself improving, and when things come out how I want them to. I also really enjoy hand-building and carving. I love to just sit and get lost with a tool and whittle away at a piece.

6. What is a nonnegotiable activity you do for yourself every day?

Every night before I go to bed, I think about what I’m grateful for. That’s my main interruption of circling thoughts when I’m trying to fall asleep. Sometimes I do it in the morning too, or I’ll say 3 things I like about myself. I’m typically not a creature of habit though - that’s why I like making pottery. There’s always something different happening - so many steps in the process while doing all of them simultaneously.

7. What are your favorite MINERAL products and why?

I love HYDRATE. First of all, it smells like heaven on earth - it’s delicious and divine. I really care about my skin and am always trying new products. I love how HYDRATE soaks into my skin and isn’t greasy at all - it also immediately made the fine lines in my forehead dissipate. My skin is left feeling supple and moisturized, and the scent is really calming.

My other favorite product is RELIEF body oil. I get hand cramps and my lower back hurts when I’m sitting at the wheel for a long time, and I have really tight hamstrings. I’ll come home from the studio and put it on my hands, wrists, and elbows for a nice relief.

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