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Montana Ceramicist

Sarah Jaeger in Helena, Mont.
Photo caption
Sarah Jaeger and her dachshund, Fred, in her Helena, Mont., studio

Step into Sarah Jaeger’s backyard studio in Helena, Mont., and all is color. Vases of lilies and tulips line shelves full of porcelain teapots, bowls, plates, and casseroles glazed in greenstriped buttery yellows, bright orangedappled cobalt blues, and delicate celery greens. Jaeger’s pots are on display, and on sale, at the Holter Museum of Art in Helena, Artworks Gallery in Bozeman, and other outlets.

Q You received a $50,000 art grant?
A In 2006, I was awarded a USA Target Fellowship []. It’s money for me to use in any way that advances my work.

Q Why make functional ceramics?
A I want to make objects that bring beauty into our everyday lives, that accrue meaning over time. Despite all the material abundance in this culture of ours, we were impoverished when people stopped making things by hand.

Q What attracts you to porcelain?
A I love its color, clarity, and durability. When fired, it gets glassy and develops a wonderful surface. In strong sunlight, you can see the shadow of your fingers through it.

Q You layer glazes?
A Layers of color give a piece an illusion of depth. When I make a blue bowl, I try to duplicate the confusion you experience when you look through blue water.

Q A peak moment?
A In the basement of the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., I was handling a 10th-century earthenware bowl from Iran. I could see how the potter shaped it and where his handprints were. It was as if we could talk shop across the centuries.

Photography courtesy Independent Record/George Lane


This article was first published in May 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.