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Life & Work with Rachel Akin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Akin. 

Hi Rachel, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
I have been working in clay for the past 25+ years.  It all started in high school at Shawnee Mission East.  I always knew that I wanted to pursue the arts.  I just wasn’t certain which direction that I wanted to pursue.  Creating stage sets and props for the drama performances was something that I really became interested in, so I thought I wanted to study technical theatre.  During my Junior year, I took a ceramics class and I was immediately hooked.  I went in after school to practice on the potter’s wheel.  It certainly didn’t come naturally to me…I had to practice a lot.  Eventually, I purchased my own potter’s wheel so I could practice more often at home.

I received my BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1999 and MFA from Ohio University in 2006.  Artist residencies that I participated in include, the Kansas City Clay Guild, Red Star Studios (now Belger Crane Yard Studios), and Craft Alliance in St. Louis.  During my residencies I taught a variety of classes as well as teaching at local colleges.  I have exhibited in numerous gallery exhibitions and participated in several art fairs, including Plaza and Brookside.

Currently, the main focus is my family.  I have two daughters (7 and 9 years old) who are budding figure skaters that keep me busy.  A new passion of mine is taking skating classes to keep up with them on the ice!  We especially love it when my husband can join us for outings to the ice rink.

I make a point of working towards spring and winter sales to sell my work to the public.  This keeps me active in the studio and allows me to stay creative.

Soon, I will be selling my work for the Holidays!

Kansas City Clay Guild Annual Studio Tour and Sale-

200 W. 74th Street in Waldo

*December 3rd, 5-9 pm

*4th 10-5 pm

*5th 11-3 pm

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has definitely not been a smooth road.  I have moved seven times since 2006, so it felt like I was continually setting up and packing up my studios.

After working in clay for 20 years, I finally purchased an electric kiln of my own.  I was fortunate that I didn’t need to worry about firing my work during school and artist residencies.  There were periods that I had to transport my work, so I had to pack everything carefully and try not to drive over potholes.  I was so paranoid about breaking my work!  Now, I can walk downstairs in my pajamas and peek in the kiln when it is cool enough in the morning when I wake up.  It’s like Christmas…I can’t wait to look!

Ceramic artists have to wear many hats…. clay wedger, maker, decorator, glazer, kiln loader, kiln firer, kiln unloader, pot sander, picture taker, website uploader, social media poster, packer, and shipper, etc.  I’m sure I missed something!  So, I’m juggling all that (plus a busy home life) when I would much rather be sitting at the potter’s wheel creating or sitting at my table decorating.  Finding a balance has been a challenge.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
I create decorative porcelain pottery to adorn your home or for daily use.  Primarily all of my pieces are created on the potter’s wheel.  I enjoy creating vases, planters, and one-of-a-kind mugs.  The forms that I create are curvaceous with slip trailed decoration that is accented with a soothing color palette.  Vintage glass has inspired my work…especially milk glass and depression glass.  Historical ceramics, like Toft Wear and Staffordshire Pottery, also inspire my work.

I am proud that I have continued to work in clay over the years while balancing multiple moves, a busy household, the challenges of motherhood, and of course the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
Oh… definitely playing outside on the side of my house making mud pies!! 

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Allison Carenza

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