Jasmine Crowe Pottery
Right at Home with Elegant Simplicity
Jasmine Crowe is a professional ceramicist and mother of two who will be producing an exclusive line of ceramic for The Spa at the Inns of Aurora. We spoke with her about her art, her family, and her personal connection to Aurora.
Simplicity is a balm for the soul in uncertain times.
Jasmine Crowe's pottery—and, indeed, her artistic career—could be described as a study in simplicity. The same gentle touch that turns a spinning lump of clay into a beautiful bowl seems to have guided her to exactly where she is now: opening a new studio, running her own business, raising two children, living on a farm in upstate New York.
And after several years of historic uncertainty, people are ready to bring home a bit of that simplicity in the form of Jasmine's beautiful pottery.
“I’ve never been busier, and a lot of makers I know have never been busier, because people really came through for us [in 2020],” says Jasmine. “People realized how important it was to have handmade objects, and wanted to support makers as a part of their communities. I never felt that more than this past year. I definitely got pictures and notes from customers before, but this past year, the pictures and notes were just so heartfelt. People were sending me pictures of their homes, and their families using my work… it made me feel really grateful, like I had landed in the right place.”
That welcome simplicity comes from Jasmine's approach to pottery, which centers around approachable pieces: things that are made to be used, that are elegant without being precious.
“I try to keep things simple and accessible,” says Jasmine. “I’m thinking of things that you’re going to use that will be enhanced by whatever you’re serving or using them with. My style tends to be a little simpler: I focus on a clean aesthetic, more geometric shapes, designs that are more basic in form. But I also like little details... I like to add in a flared rim or a striped base, a little point of interest that’s going to enhance it just a little bit. I’m designing things that I think will fit in with any aesthetic.”
Jasmine has always been drawn to working with her hands. She attended Hartwick College with a dual focus in ceramics and glassblowing. After starting out with an interest in painting, she discovered clay as a medium, and was instantly hooked.
“It was the tactile pleasure of watching something manifest in front of your eyes. In painting, you also get to see the painting take shape, but, to me, there’s something really magical about watching the clay move, just with the slightest touch of your hand… you angle your hand one way and you make a bowl, you angle it the other way and you make a vase… it’s like magic,” says Jasmine.
“I also loved the mechanics of it. In college I built these huge, life-sized sculptures, and something about moving around the piece, with these huge coils of clay wrapped around my shoulders… it felt like a really amazing material, where you could make it really delicate, or you could make it gigantic and behemoth. I loved the versatility of it. I loved that it was instantaneous, I loved that it was messy… I fell so in love with clay in college and I loved everything about it.”
After college, Jasmine stayed in Oneonta while her then-boyfriend (now her husband) finished up his degree. She worked as a pastry chef at a small Italian restaurant; after her husband took over his family’s farm in Montgomery County, she worked odd jobs, guiding tours and also working at a brewery. Still, she was always set on making a career as a potter.
“I definitely never entertained any ideas of another career,” says Jasmine. “My first studio was in our barn—only a summer studio. I had a kiln and a wheel, and I'd work as much as I could in the summers. When I first started working for myself, I was kind of aimlessly trying to figure out what I could make that would find a market. This was before social media; the networking in the country was more driving and showing things to different galleries in different areas. When I was younger, I did a lot more sculptural work. It was a very experimental time.”
After the birth of her daughter, Jasmine took time off from her studio to be with her family. She returned with a renewed focus on her passion for pottery—just as her first major client moved in right down the road.
“When I came out of that year, I was a little more focused and a little more eager to do something for myself. Beekman 1802 had just moved into our area—right near where we live. Their house is nearby, and also their mercantile. I was introduced to them through a friend, and at the time, they were just starting; they hardly had any pottery, they hardly had anything in the store, so they asked me to just design a bunch of things,” says Jasmine.
“The Beekmans—Josh and Brent—would come to me and say ‘Can you design a pitcher set?’... we’d make a sample set, and they’d decide which style they liked… there was some artistry in designing things that I thought would fit with their aesthetic, but also was my take on a particular item. So that was really fun. And in the beginning, my line with them was probably twenty or thirty items. We were just coming out with new items all the time because they had such a limited number of products.”
The shift from creating one-off pieces to reproducing batches of the same design was a major shift for Jasmine—but one that she found she enjoyed, particularly when raising a family.
“When I started with Beekman, I learned how to do production work, and it became a huge love of mine. I was not expecting to like it,” says Jasmine. “Artists always like to say ‘Oh, everything I do is original, production is such a sell-out, there's no artistry making the same thing over and over.’ But as a new mother who was working a lot of nights while my baby was asleep, I found production to be very meditative… it was a really humbling and beautiful process, and I loved, loved, loved seeing rows and rows of things that all looked the same. Something about it was so pleasing to me. [Laughs.]”
Since then, Jasmine has continued to work with Beekman 1802, even as she's branched out in her own directions. As her career has grown—she now does wholesale work for brands across the country—Jasmine has continued to develop an approachable elegance in her work.
“I want everything to feel like it makes every day special, so you don’t have to put it in a cupboard and never use it… these are things I want people to use every day,” says Jasmine.
“The beautiful thing about what I get to do is that, when I'm designing things, I’m imagining myself using them with friends and my family. Regardless of whether I’m making one of them or a hundred of them, I imagine them being used in this really special, intimate way. That, to me, has become the most rewarding part of the process: that these items are used daily for these really intimate family moments, and that’s what brings me the most joy in my job.”
That commitment to approachable elegance made her a natural fit for her partnership with the Inns of Aurora—in addition to her own personal connection with the company.
“The Aurora line has been an exciting new project. It’s always fun to design new things, and I used to work at the Aurora Inn when I was in high school—right at the front desk! And the new spa is right across the street from a family I used to babysit for. It’s a very funny full-circle moment for me. It’s a really fun collaboration that I’m very excited about.”
Beyond that, the home-centered simplicity that is expressed in Jasmine’s work is also reflected in her artistic career: she’s right where she wants to be, and can’t imagine doing anything else.
“It doesn’t sound very thrilling, but I just want to keep doing what I’m doing for as long as I can,” says Jasmine. “I love working, I have a beautiful home in the country, I get to be here for my kids… I want to keep letting the work evolve and grow and change, and keep doing what I want to do. The joy of my career has been that I've never had to work for anyone else. Working for myself, every day I just get to decide what I want to do. It sounds cheesy, but I really just want to keep doing this for as long as I can.”