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How a Ceramics Artist Took the Leap of Faith to Pursue Her Passion

by
Karine

I’m so excited to introduce our second interview for our blog, featuring inspiring women in the And Comfort community. Samantha Heligman is the talented artist behind Settle Ceramics, a collection that makes the everyday beautiful for your kitchen and home. I was extremely impressed with Samantha’s work and knew I had to interview her when I found out the mission behind Settle to make beautiful, everyday pieces. We caught her after a busy weekend, where she was showcasing her work at a studio tour featuring different artists all around Austin.

Please introduce yourself! What does a normal day look like?

My name is Samantha Heligman, and I’m the creator behind Settle Ceramics, based in Austin. I wake up at 7:30am, have some coffee with my housemate, and gather my things to go to the studio. I’m a one-woman show, so I do a little bit of everything, from the business to the art side. My work depends on the day - if it’s a throw day, I’ll start a round with throwing. If there’s low humidity, I’ll dry my pieces and trim them. On glaze day, pots will be glazed and I’ll stamp them.

In the mornings when you’re getting ready, how do you think about dressing for your day? How would you describe your style?

I get pretty dusty and dirty in the studio, so on weekdays, I usually dress for comfort and function. On days I’m not in the studio, I’d describe my style as hippie, urban, comfortable. Typically I wear comfortable jeans and flowy tops. Feeling comfortable is the most important to me.

Let’s talk about Settle Ceramics. Settle is about making the everyday beautiful for your kitchen and home. Do you have any favorite everyday things?

I love collecting coffee mugs from fellow makers. It’s a good way for me to experience something special and new every morning.

What inspired you to start Settle?

I’ve been creative all my life. My mom’s a graphic designer and always encouraged me to create and make things from an early age. I got my bachelors in Painting and Photography, and but I minored in Ceramics so I could practice throwing in the studio. After college, I had a few jobs but spent the better part of 2 years working at a clay studio and perfecting my wheel throwing skills.

“Take your time. Don’t rush into it. It can be a slow process, but don’t give up if it’s your passion."

During my time there, I had the idea to create a more cohesive heirloom collection of everyday pieces, where you could see my maker’s mark and know it’s mine. I wanted to make the everyday piece beautiful, where each piece would be made with the intent to become a family heirloom. That’s how Settle Ceramics was born.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome when starting Settle?

It took a long process. In the beginning, I was working 3 jobs and 13 hour days. I was a massage therapist, worked for another potter in a clay studio, and making my own pieces. The biggest obstacle was really fear and figuring out when I should separate myself from my other jobs.

Who has been your biggest inspiration through the process?

My mom. It can be hard to be supportive of your children that go into non-traditional career paths, but she’s been my biggest cheerleader and has been the most supportive person in my journey. Whenever I need a peptalk, she’s there for me.

What are a few pieces of advice you have for those looking to take the first step to start their own business?

First, find a community of likeminded artisans so you can have a sounding board as you develop your ideas. Second, take your time. Don’t rush into it. It can be a slow process, but don’t give up if it’s your passion. I’m so grateful I took the time, and that everyday I get to be a kid and play in mud.