One of the best parts of living in the Hudson Valley is that it’s filled with hidden treasures. Not just in the way of spots but people as well. For example, driving around the streets of Beacon, you’d never know if you passed by Ceramic Artist Virginia Piazza’s studio. Completing her BFA in 1990, she’s studied and worked throughout the country, creating classic wheel-thrown porcelain and stoneware for everyday use.
Self Made: When did you start your business?
Virginia Piazza: I set up my studio in the Hudson Valley in 2001. Prior to that I had taught ceramics in Manhattan and Westchester for over 10 years. I continued teaching in the city and in the Hudson Valley while making pots to sell until about 2005. I gave up teaching at that point and have focused on making work fulltime since.
SM: What inspired it?
VP: I was inspired to make functional pottery because it plays such a subtle and useful role in people’s lives. I also really love the material and the process!
SM: Where is your studio located?
VP: My little studio is located in my home. It's in an enclosed porch at the back of the house, south facing and looks out over my garden. Nature is very inspiring to me.
SM: What are some of your favorite parts of being a maker/business owner?
VP: It is nice to set my own schedule and work at my own pace, and to have everything I need close at hand.
SM: What are some of the challenges you face?
VP:Working at home can be distracting at times- I try to ignore things that need my attention outside of the studio. With clay, it’s not so easy to work at home in a corner or spare bedroom. Before moving to Beacon, we lived in a one bedroom apartment, so I rented studio space in communal studios, and also a separate storage space for my tent and other show-related things.
SM:Name five things you wish you knew being starting your business?
VP: When I finished art school, the art and business worlds were very different. My professors told us that it was important to have good photos of your work, and to consult a good accountant. That was it for “practical” advice! I guess I never imagined that actually making things would take up less time than all the other stuff [like] promotion, social media, etcetera.
SM: What keeps you inspired? Are there any routines or rituals you follow that help keep you on track?
VP: I always eat breakfast-sometimes I will take a short walk or at least check on my garden if it is in bloom. I might do a little reading of clay books or journals or listen to podcasts while eating lunch. I try to create a plan/list for what I think I need to make that certain day. I also like to check out Instagram!
SM: Who are some of your favorite independent designers/local brands?
VP: L&M Studio is a clay company that does lovely lovely work. Ten Willow Studio (hand blown glass) in Beacon is another.
SM: If we came to visit you, where are three places you would insist on taking us and why?
VP: 1) Flora Garden & Home- floral design and gift shop.
2) Zora Dora Paletaria-handmade frozen pops
3) Beetle and Fred- the sewing store Beacon finally has!
SM: Are there any new projects/products in the works that you would like to share with us?
VP: I have recently begun making some small “tile” pendants-I have not done much in the way of jewelry, so I am not totally sure here this came from!
You can find Virginia’s work at ReMade and Utensil (Beacon), The Byrdcliffe Shop located in Woodstock, and The Woodstock Art Exchange in West Hurley.