Clara Nickels comes from a family of artists, and she got her start in ceramics by using modeling clay to sculpt anything from food to animals.
“I remember just making anything and everything,” Nickels said.
Nickels was selected as the 2019 poster artist for Moscow Artwalk. Her work will be exhibited at the Third Street Gallery through the end of July, including during the Moscow Artwalk.
Her parents noticed her talent at a young age and signed her up for lessons with Jamie Sutcliffe, a Viola ceramic artist who often had a booth at the Moscow Farmers Market.
“He was great,” Nickels said. “A lot of people really liked him and loved his work.”
When Nickels was in middle school, Sutcliffe died suddenly in 2016 at the age of 54. She stopped taking lessons after that, but she bought the wheel Sutcliffe taught her on from his family and continued making ceramics in her garage.
“It almost seemed like I needed to carry on his legacy in some way,” she said.
Now, 17-year-old Nickels is on her third season at the Farmers Market, where she has her own booth and does pottery demonstrations every Saturday. She also sells her pottery online.
She said she thinks Sutcliffe would be proud of how far she’s come.
“I don’t think he ever really got to see me be independent with my art,” Nickels said.
Last summer, Nickels taught a few younger girls how to make pottery, just like Sutcliffe taught her.
“It was almost like I was giving the gift of pottery,” Nickels said. “Seeing them being proud of their own work when it comes out of the kiln is a great feeling.”
A junior at Pullman High School, Nickels wants to continue studying ceramics. She also wants to study engineering and hopes to attend Southern Utah University.
“I can see myself being a ceramic artist with my own studio, but I can also see myself being an engineer, so I really don’t know,” Nickels said with a laugh. “Probably both.”
Nickels said she mostly makes functional pieces, such as cups and bowls, but she has branched out into more decorative pieces for her gallery exhibit.
As a child, Nickels said she dreamed of selling her art but she never thought she would start in high school. She said she dedicates an hour and a half a day after school to ceramics.
“I consider it my job,” she said.
To purchase Nickels’ ceramics, visit her website at clarajunestudios.com, her booth at the Moscow Farmers Market, or her work at the Third Street Gallery.
Alysen Boston can be contacted at (208) 883-4632, or by email to email@example.com.