A local potter's labor of love helps lift herself and others from life’s difficult places with laughter, joy and beauty.
Cincy Chic: What is Gardenhouse Pottery?
Trish McLennan, Founder of Gardenhouse Pottery: The Gardenhouse is what we named the original house that was on our property. It is a one story building, built in the 1800s and had 7 acres. We built our home on the property in 2001 but kept the Gardenhouse to do messy crafts and host garden club meetings. We’ve had quite a few scout meetings and kid parties there before it became a studio.
In 2010, a friend of mine was visiting from Florida and she wanted to go to a clay workshop. I had dipped my toes in many crafts, but had never worked in clay. I was hooked! The Gardenhouse was quickly converted into a full time studio and now has 2 kilns and classroom space in the barn.
Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind it?
McLennan: I have three threads of inspiration behind my work. I have lived somewhere in Cincinnati all my life and one of my favorite things is exploring the city on urban hikes. I love featuring our amazing iconic buildings and being an ambassador to our unique and quirky Queen City.
I started adding a line of inspiration, funny and sometimes potty mouthed quotes after my husband passed away in 2013. It helped me get through my tough time through laughter and looking for joy and I hope it reaches out to lift others up if they are feeling low.
My new line is going back to my garden roots with a line of illustrations and patterns based on what I find on hikes in the woods or growing in my yard.
Cincy Chic: Who’s behind it?
McLennan: I am an over 50, one woman show. I have 2 adult children and one grandson and some of the best friends a person could hope for as a support group. I have been drawing since I could pick up a pencil and enjoy growing beautiful things in my garden. I love to hike and explore both the city and the woods and have been known to take off on an adventure on my own with little notice. I love the life I have now – the ability to create daily on my own timeline.
Cincy Chic: Where is Gardenhouse Pottery located?
McLennan: Just north of Cincinnati in Maineville, Ohio. It is tucked away at the end of a dead end street with my house, studio, barn, a classroom along with some creeks and trails to explore with my dogs, Duke and Archie.
Cincy Chic: What types of pottery items can people make?
McLennan: I mainly focus on production work for my Etsy shop as well as other small galleries and shops. I have done small events, but I do not do regular classes anymore. I was spending too much energy trying to make everyone happy. It’s something I might go back to, but I would need to add some staff to ease the load.
Cincy Chic: What types of pottery items do you make?
McLennan: I make wheel thrown as well as hand built functional kitchenware using a beautiful red clay from North Carolina. Each piece is partially covered in a white slip to create a canvas for my surface design. Before any piece is started, I prepare silkscreens to use decorate my work. I use the library of patterns to create a patchwork of design that is fired into the clay before additional iron oxide designs and quotes are added and fired on.
My best sellers are my mugs and mini quote bowls, but I also make plates, platters and ornaments. All the dinnerware is safe for the dishwasher and microwave.
Cincy Chic: What makes Gardenhouse Pottery unique?
McLennan: There are hundreds of people working in ceramics in the Cincinnati area, but only a handful are using handmade silk screen designs. I use this process to give more layers and colors to my illustrations. I also like to work with repeat pattern designs to give my work a textile vibe. Sewing and quilting is one of the skills that was passed down from my Appalachian roots and it sneaks into the details of my designs.
Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon?
McLennan: This silkscreen process is new to me this year. I’m excited to get a bigger library of pattern design and storytelling to my work. I’m just getting started.
Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more and follow along?
McLennan: I have a Facebook and Instagram page where you can follow my work in progress and see when new items will be added to my Etsy shop.