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Hometown Heroes: Ceramist Samantha Heligman

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Next stop on our tour of Austin Hometown Heroes is Settle Ceramics, where Samantha Heligman handmakes one-of-a-kind mugs, bowls and vases meant to last generations. She took a break from throwing, firing and glazing to show us around the studio and chat. Want to learn about her inspirations and love for La Croix? Keep reading.

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First things first—tell us how Settle Ceramics came to be.

I’ve been working with clay for about 10 years. I spent some time working for Keith Kreeger, who taught me a lot about how to turn a passion into a business. So I started Settle Ceramics three years ago.

I want to be able to say that I had my hands on each piece that comes out of my studio and I want to make objects that are useful in my home. I believe in creating pieces that are meant to be cherished for years—modern-day heirlooms.

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What’s your day-to-day like?

Lately I’ve been waking up superearly (I never thought it would happen, but I’m becoming a morning person), having coffee and heading right to the studio. Depending on the day, I’ll start by glazing a piece to put into the kiln, or throwing, or vice versa. I’m constantly working. Since it’s a one-woman show, as my business grows the demand on my time does too. I don’t mind though, I love my job. I get to be a kid playing with clay every single day!

Any essentials you like to keep around while you work?

La Croix has become an essential—gotta have my bubbly water. And Audible. Lately I’m much more productive listening to books than music.

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What do you do when you’re in a rut and need some inspiration?

I get moving and go for a hike. I also check out antique shops for old pottery. I like looking at shapes and forms to get inspired that way.

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Do you have any advice for aspiring makers looking to turn their skills into a business?

You have to keep going. It’s not easy to be a small business, so if you don’t have a true passion for what you’re doing you may want to rethink things. The love of clay has kept me persevering and I can’t see myself doing anything else.

We’re glad you’re keeping at it, Samantha. Check out more interviews with our favorite makers here and shop their goods here.

P.S. Austinites, stop by our new Madewell Commons on 8/4 from 1-4 to hang with Samantha and more Hometown Heroes (plus shop their goods, of course). RSVP right here.