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Q+A with Stephen & Nathan of Powder Studio

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your craft.

Powder Studio was created by Nathan Tucker and Stephen James in December 2013. Powder Studio is a ceramics studio based in the NoDa Historic Arts District of Charlotte, NC. They create handcast porcelain jewelry, homewares, and lighting fixtures in small batches meant to be used and enjoyed in everyday life - "This ain't your grandma's fine China!"


Where do you draw energy and inspiration for your work?

In our overall creative concepts and design of work we pull inspiration from Outer Space – how could you not be inspired by the vast, beautiful, unknown universe?! We pull from pop- culture references like space crafts to the very literal phases of the moon. 

What’s one of your favorite moments of the creative process?

Stephen: GLAZING! It's my absolute favorite part of our process. The best part about glazing is seeing matte colors go into the kiln and then seeing glossy finished pieces after the high firing. It's a magical feeling when you see new glaze techniques, colors, and styles come out more beautifully than you could have ever expected.

Nathan: For me it's in the form making. I love creating forms with my hands that appear to exist in nature ....OR OUTER SPACE!
As small business owners, I think it’s safe to say we learn as we go! What’s something you’ve learned from operating your business that you wish you could have told yourself when you started?
Stephen: Hmmmm - That's a tough one! I think the biggest lessons I've taken from our journey is to never be afraid to try new things, to learn, and to persevere. At the start of Powder Studio, Nathan taught me the process of slipcasting and everything else that I needed to know about ceramics. There was a lot of fear in the beginning when we took to jump to open up a ceramics studio, but now I know it was the best decision we've made. Over the past 3 years we've learned so much more about our process, materials, and each other- I think It's important to always have an open mind and be ready to expand your knowledge. As far as perseverance goes; There have been hard times along the way (stressful, disappointing, scary, etc.), but keeping your eye on the prize is the only way you will succeed. If you can't push through the hard things in life you will give up on anything you ever try.
Nathan: As a small ceramics business owner, it took me a while to realize that not very much about clay processes is in your control. For an impatient control freak, it took a while to calibrate my expectations and realize that the clay has a mind of its own. So if starting again , I guess I would tell myself to chill out and appreciate each pieces' unique character.

What roadblocks have you hit and overcome as a small business owner?

Stephen: Other than the local light rail construction blocking our studio community from the proper Arts District...I'd say our biggest roadblocks have been with materials and equipment. We've had some equipment issues and certain materials that took us time to figure out how to remedy. 

Nathan: Haha yes, the literal roadblock has been the biggest for us so far ;]

What do you have planned for your business in the months to come? Any new projects, collabs, collections you can hint at?

We have a few markets coming up in the North Carolina area. We are testing some new glaze colors/styles for existing products that we plan to release June along with a revamp of an old product we no longer produce (IT'S GONNA BE BIG!). Outside of those immediate projects we are talking with several local businesses/ clients about custom projects and we are excited to see how these projects will take form.


Tell us about a small victory! The little things are so worthy of celebration! (Anything that made you do your happy dance:)

Our most recent victory was completing an order for a local coffee shop here in Charlotte (Not Just Coffee). We produced custom 'Comet' coffee mugs with NJC's logo and they are selling them in all of their locations as a branding project. We are really excited to be working with such a great company - their mochas are SO GOOD.

To see more of Powder Studio's work visit their Instagram or Website.