We had the good fortune of connecting with Amber Schnitzius and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amber, career-wise, where do you want to be in the end?
To date, my career as a ceramic artist has consisted of selling pieces I’ve created as well as teaching workshops. For my personal journey as a maker, I want to continue to stay open to new ideas and push myself to try new things. Clay is such a diverse medium with a broad spectrum of artistic uses that in the end, I’d like to feel satisfied that I explored its versatility as well as stretched myself creatively. I don’t want to have any regrets that I didn’t continue to make time for my own curiosity and creativity. Through the teaching opportunities I’ve had, I have found true joy in sharing this craft with people. In a time when we are so glued to technology, being able to get your hands dirty and fully engage not only with the clay and your creativity but also with each other provides an escape into something a bit more meaningful. There is a lot of beauty in room of people navigating a new art form together, sharing their fears and discoveries and then eventually opening up and creating real human connections with each other. I’ve had people tell me it was the first time they haven’t thought about checking their email or looking at their phone in such a long time, that they got lost in their creations. There is also a lot of beauty in watching someone interact with a functional piece of art they have made. When they can drink their coffee out of their mug or eat cereal out of a bowl they created with their own hands, there is a different type of pride and connection with that piece. I would like to develop this part of my career more in depth and have the opportunity to create a safe, inviting, creative space for people to gather as a community to share not only their art with each other but to build human connections. At the end of my career, I would like to feel like I was able to provide an outlet for people to disconnect with the stresses of everyday life, reconnect with their roots as makers and come together as a community to encourage and inspire one another through interactions with clay.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
One of my earliest memories was being in Toys R Us as a small child, seeing a potter’s wheel for kids and just being completely intrigued by it. That memory stuck with me until high school when I was finally able to take a ceramics class and explore my curiosity for pottery. I was instantly hooked and continued taking ceramics classes in college but upon graduating had to pause. Ceramics requires expensive equipment and space. Being a recent grad, I just couldn’t afford to continue. After years of building a career in the corporate world, I really started to miss having clay in my life. It was always a way for me to escape and I hadn’t found anything else to replace it. I got to a place financially where I could afford to start taking classes again and fell in love with pottery all over again. Eventually, I bought my own equipment and started making pieces for friends and family, who eventually talked me into selling my work. That led to an opportunity making dog bowls for a boutique shop in L.A. I decided to step back from my corporate job and move to San Diego to start a new career in ceramics with the momentum I was starting to get. But, the move didn’t go well and one thing after another fell apart including broken equipment and having to quit making ceramics altogether for a period of time. In September 2020, I moved into a studio at Liberty Station’s Art District and have started building my ceramics business back up again. I named my business Rekindle Pottery, partially as a nod to the heat aspect of the ceramics process. But, mostly because it describes my journey with my art. Even though it hasn’t been a straightforward path, I always come back to it. Even when it seemed like the cards were stacked against me, I never turned my back on it. And every time I get my hands back in clay after time away from it, that passion and connection is rekindled. Regardless of what happens going forward, there is no question that pottery will be a big part of my life in some respect.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If you’re visiting San Diego, you have to get out and enjoy the sunshine. I would take you out to Torrey Pines to not only get out for a hike but also to get fantastic views of the ocean. I would take you to my favorite artist spots in Spanish Village in Balboa Park where the San Diego Potter’s Guild is located as well as through the Arts District at Liberty Station. In addition to the artist studios at Liberty Station, there are tons of places to eat or have drinks with grassy areas for picnics and enjoying the sun. I’d take you to one of the neighborhoods to explore some local restaurants like Kindred in South Park for craft cocktails and vegan delights. Depending on the time of year, I’d take you north to the flower fields in Carlsbad. While up in North County, I’d take you to a few of my favorite breweries, like Wavelength Brewing for a science talk on Fridays or Booze Bros for some live music on their back porch.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
After college, I spent time focusing on a career in healthcare. As I started working on ceramics again, it was only through the encouragement of family, friends, coworkers and classmates that I gained the confidence to move forward with pursuing artistic goals. It truly took a network of people to help me move through my insecurities and share my artwork publicly. I still draw from this support as I hit bumps in the road or second guess myself. I’m truly thankful to have such loving people in my life.
Charlie Nunn Photography for the dog photo