September 20, 2016
Two Hands Full
Two Hands Full is the brainchild of Boulder, Colorado artist Amelia Davis. Amelia’s curiosity in finding connections and patterns in the world led her to express these discoveries through clay, fiber, and flowers. Two Hands Full pottery, in particular, sets itself apart with its naturalistic colors and shapes.
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?
It feels innate to have my hands full with meaningful work. Two Hands Full is a call to all those out there who find themselves with a constant handful of something. For me, it is with knitting, clay, flowers, other fiber projects, cooking, a curious mind, dog leash, love for my close friends and family… [having] my hands full is what keeps me going.
The logo was greatly inspired by the Shaker heart-in-hand symbol, to “put your hands to work, and your hearts to God [a higher source/self].” I think this represents those out there who feel that intense call to meaningful and hard work, doing so driven from the depths of their heart. That is very much the way I choose to live. There aren’t many things I do with a distant heart, especially in my work with clay.
Have you always been passionate about design?
From a young age I became fascinated with the fashion world and clothing design. I loved crazy patterns, textures, and colors. When I started sewing, I would make patchwork dresses with fabrics from all over, some that were lush Liberty of London florals that had belonged to my mom and great-grandmother, one that I made with my older brother’s curtains (I was a stealthy young one when I needed to be), or whatever else I could find. I never used patterns, and went from basic skills taught by my mom. I always had a sense of making, regardless of having the appropriate techniques… I think she instilled in me the importance of feeding this side and bringing it into the world.
I also come from a [large] family of people either in the art world, or practicing artists. Going to my Grandfather’s gallery since I was very young opened my eyes to how I viewed art and why. I remember standing in front of numerous paintings with him as he instinctively quizzed my opinions further from just saying if I liked or didn’t like something. It was definitely quite valuable as far as honing in on my taste and why something resonated with me.
Why did you start working in this particular craft?
I began throwing on the wheel during my freshman year of high school. I went to a small boarding school in New Hampshire, where I was living away from home for the first time and adapting to living with another person in a tiny dorm room. Coming from rural Vermont, the proximity of it all was a bit of a shock and I found myself in need of an outlet (unbeknown to me what it would be). I took a pottery class that Fall and quite quickly found this haven where my mind would wander to every time I walked in the studio and sat down to work, unlike anything I had done before. I had an incredible teacher who really gave a lot of space to find my way in it all. I started going each night before study hall and it became somewhat of a spiritual practice for me at that time in my life. I learn so much about myself and mental state from the whole process – wedging to finished pot (a great book for more on this is Centering by M.C. Richards, my “bible” of sorts). Working with clay has become a sort of therapy and mindfulness practice that I crave every day. When I am off-center, so is the clay. I feel a lot of gratitude to have found this craft and be able to not only indulge myself in it but share my work with all of you.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
I am quite moved and involved with the actual act of making and it is a keystone in my practice as an artist. I put a lot of attention into working with myself and what is behind each piece; mentally, emotionally, and physically. I am dedicated to putting functional art into the world that represents the unseen as much as its material qualities.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
I would say the biggest sacrifice I have faced since starting my business was giving up working alongside others. While I do share my studio with a few wonderful women, work with great people where I have sold work, and at fairs, I find myself working alone a lot. Being mostly an introvert, I didn’t realize that this would affect me in the ways it does. I see this sacrifice as somewhat of a gift I have stepped into though- which I kind of think is often the case when it comes to self-driven sacrifices. At times it can be isolating, yet I have actually really enjoyed working with this on a more cellular level. That being said, I do miss being surrounded by the hooligans at my previous job!
What has been your favorite moment since creating your business?
There are so many. Other than being covered in clay most days I go home… I would say my favorite moments happen when others see my work and it resonates on a deep level. I mean, as a human/maker in general, I feel like that is the best feeling! When a piece I made through the story I am trying to tell the world in a language that is uniquely my own hits someone, and they say “yup, I know that story and am right there with you.” I love that.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
I am a stone’s throw from hundreds of hiking trails here in Boulder, which of course has been a big influence on me and my work. Spending the morning or early evening outside alongside my dog, investigating and observing the changing plants, colors, and seasonal feels is what it’s all about for me. I am more of the wanderer/observer/contemplative type than the intense going-places-hiker, so my focus tends to be on the smaller details. This is play to me, as I could spend hours and hours learning about my surrounding ecosystem and how to develop a deeper relationship within it. Having access to so many trails and open space is definitely a luxury that I don’t take for granted.
There are also so many incredible artists on the Front Range as well as people who have such immense support for local artists. This of course makes me able to do what I do, so thank you!
What valuable experience did you have before starting your business?
If you care about something deeply enough and put in the time, your vision will become reality. Have faith in your hard work!
What are some inspirations for your work?
I draw inspiration from a range of places and people. I am fascinated by the southwestern desert (especially Northern New Mexico), so you will see some of my pieces mimic the landscape there. My love for functional art comes from a dedication to make thoughtful artwork- pieces that are useful and serve a purpose beyond their aesthetic. For the customer, but also for me as the artist. As I’ve already mentioned, I am really inspired by all that which lies in the act of making, beyond the actual “art” or finished piece.
Also, having a background in Environmental Studies, one of my main goals as a potter is to reawaken awareness around what we put in our bodies. I believe that having a cupboard of well-loved wares inspires us to fill those wares with well-loved nourishment. I like to envision the bright butternut squash soup that may lie in one of my bowls, or the shadows cast on a morning mug of tea, or the atmosphere of friends sitting around a table drinking a cup of gin or two… I am inspired just as much by where my pieces might end up.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
I guess I just want to reiterate to the importance of having compassion for yourself as an artist and maker. I have found times where I get really down on myself for either not feeling like making, wishing I had done better at a fair, or feeling creative exhaustion. Meeting this with compassion has been a practice for me, and one that has been a necessary tool. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun and continually touch back into the giddiness of what it felt like to first find this craft/medium!