Bridget Dorr is a potter with a purpose. The Boulder-based ceramic artist—who moonlights as a professional photographer and photo stylist—loves nothing better than gathering people together. And though living in lockdown during a pandemic certainly made that more difficult, Dorr was undeterred. She simply found a new way to inspire creativity and connect with others—by hosting at-home, virtual, pottery workshops.
The classes are for locals only, because students need to pick up a kit including six pounds of clay and supplies at Dorr’s Boulder studio. Her pre-recorded video tutorial is also available separately for those who already have access to clay and a kiln and only need guidance.
Here, Dorr tells us more about her approach, style, and what to expect from a virtual workshop—so you can decide whether to get your hands dirty, or take the easy route and purchase one of her handmade ceramic creations online or from a local shop, including Boulder’s Jones + Co. Modern Mercantile and Fiori Flowers, or Denver’s Manofatto.
5280 Home: When did your passion for ceramics begin?
Bridget Dorr: I studied art therapy and pottery at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and I immediately fell in love with the community aspect of the ceramics studio. All our materials were shared (wheels, kilns, etc.), and we had to work in communication with one another.
What brought you to Colorado?
I visited Boulder in college and I immediately made plans to move here after graduating. I followed through with the plan and have happily lived here for almost 10 years. I’m never leaving!
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Organic, minimalist, feminine. I am one of the few hand-built ceramic artists in the area. I don’t use the wheel. I use rolled-out slabs of clay to create functional pieces. That gives my work a unique and asymmetrical look.
What ceramic pieces do you offer for sale?
I make all functional wares at the moment: mugs, cups, dishes, dinner sets.
Why have you chosen to focus on functional objects?
I feel so fulfilled knowing I’ve made beautiful, functional ceramics that can encourage people to be more mindful and present at the table. Gathering with others and having a meaningful conversation is a really great way to slow down and be intentional with ourselves and with others. I’ve seen people from all kinds of backgrounds and beliefs gather over a good meal and engage in hard discussions.
Did that gathering impulse inspire your new at-home clay workshop?
I usually have a variety of workshops this time of year and was feeling so sad not being able to offer them. One of the most incredible things for me this past year was getting the opportunity to be creative. I feel a lot of healing in doing creative work. I created a virtual workshop to encourage others to take a chance, try something new, and be creative during these strange times.
What can your students expect from the workshop’s one-hour video tutorial?
I teach all hand-building techniques—no wheel work! I give you all the supplies you need to roll out slabs of clay on your kitchen table, and I teach you how to assemble them into cups, mugs, dishes, etc.! I also teach how to create pinch pots and slump mold dish-making.
How do you manage the glazing and firing steps?
Students make their pieces at home. Then, local workshop participants will drop off their pieces at my studio in East Boulder, and I’ll fire and glaze the pieces for them. In my video, I show examples of the kinds of glazes I’m offering.
What sort of response have you had?
Great so far! I’m so excited to see how people create in the privacy of their own homes. I hope to see people take some chances they might not have taken otherwise.
You also find time to run a photography business?
I am a lifestyle and wedding photographer. Photography was the first art form I fell in love with. I’ve had a camera in my hands for the past 15 years, and I’ve been shooting professionally for over seven years. Being able to make ceramics, set the table, and capture people using the dishes for a special event or styled shoot feels like magic.
Try it: Dorr’s virtual pottery workshops start at $25 and can be purchased here.
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