'Profound' passion drives ceramists to launch eco-friendly pottery line in Westport

WESTPORT — From the moment they met in the parking lot of Creative Children's Korner in Ridgefield 20 years ago, artists Claudia Schattman and Sarah Bernhardt had mused about starting a ceramics line.

This Earth Day, that vision will finally be realized as the women launch their brand ClayStory at Terrain in Westport.

The pair recently pursued the project after encouragement from their adult daughters, who attended CCK as children. Over the past year, the artists peddled their pottery at the Westport Farmers Market. After receiving a positive reception from market goers, decided to “really put a line together,” said Bernhardt, a Ridgefield resident.

The ClayStory line features bowls, plates, mugs and trinket dishes that are functional and durable — and all made by hand. By using vintage china as a base for their modern designs, each piece embodies a “dilapidated elegance,” Schattman said.

Schattman had the idea to layer antiquities into everyday stoneware while working on small-scale mosaic projects. To fashion a trim for her garage in Westport, for example, she would scour the beaches of Sherwood Island and collect treasures that washed ashore.

“I had tons of broken vintage pieces of china, and I thought (it) would be interesting to incorporate (it) with pottery that's made today,” she said, “to keep continuing a story.”

Most of the inventory is produced in a studio on Hills Point Road in Westport. And since each piece incorporates a remnant of the past, the designs elicit a whimsical nostalgia while maintaining environmental friendliness.

So it was fitting when the women learned that ClayStory’s official brand launch would coincide with Earth Day. “It aligned with our themes of being sustainable and eco-friendly,” Bernhardt said. “Our motto is less plastic, more clay.”

Terrain is a 16,000-square-foot upscale garden facility that caters to artists as well as gardeners. Before the pandemic, events manager Page Englehart orchestrated outreach events to cultivate community inside and outside the store.

“We consider ourselves a center of inspiration for home and garden, so to reinforce that we thought of bringing in creative talent and (giving) them a forum to talk about what they make and sell what they do,” she said.

Englehart described the ClayStory line as “remarkable” and “stunning.”

“It’s exciting for us to be able to give them a stage,” she added. “To be able to expose them in their own community through Terrain makes us all feel happy. It’s energy at a time where we’re all so low.”

Of the launch, Bernhardt said, “It’s just like having your first baby. It’s been a lot of work, but we’re very excited and proud.”

Schattman said she felt gratified to sell her art on a grander scale. “We were finally able to do something for ourselves, (and) that passion to create is so profound.”

For examples of the artists’ work, visit Instagram @ClayStoryCT. The line’s website and online shop’s launch will coincide with the Earth Day sale.

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com