Joanne Paek of JO AND CLAY is a ceramicist based in Orange County, California. We had the pleasure of meeting Joanne through a photoshoot a few years ago. Shortly after the shoot, we learned about her passion and skill for ceramics and were impressed by her work.

If you've attended any of our sample sales at ROWDTLA this past year, you've probably paused to glance at Joanne's beautiful assortment of handmade cups, tableware, and planters. We always enjoy inviting her to our events because she's always equipped with a warm smile and ready to share wisdom about her craft.

We accompanied Joanne for a studio session at Still Life Ceramics to learn a little more about her and her journey with JO AND CLAY. 

When and how did your relationship with ceramics begin? How did JO AND CLAY come to life?

I first started ceramics back in 2017. At that time I was looking for a new and challenging creative outlet, preferably in a 3D medium, because I had only worked with 2D mediums prior. So I began by taking some weekend classes at a local pottery studio, and eventually moved over to OCC (Orange Coast College) to continue learning. I finished their two-year program by fall of 2019 and started building a small studio at home.

It was honestly never my intention to start a small business. It began with setting a goal for myself that in 2020, I would start selling pieces that I made. But one thing led to another as I put together my website, and thus JO AND CLAY came to be.

Your pieces are described as being designed with an honest focus on traditional and contemporary influences. What’s been influencing you lately 
and why?

I think something beautiful about pottery is that it’s been around for centuries. That means for centuries, humans have been working with mud, water, and fire in this way. So naturally, I took some time to study and practice forms and techniques used in Korean pottery because of its connection to my heritage. As a result, I discovered that one of my favorite forms to make are moon jars. Something about their fullness, surfaces, and silhouettes really resonate with me and influence the more contemporary pieces I make today.


As a small business, are there any lessons you’ve learned?

I’ve learned so many things since I decided to sell ceramics. It’s still weird for me to think of JO AND CLAY as a small business, because it’s always been more about my learning experiences with this medium. But if I could offer any tidbits, they would be:

1) There's no rush to make money off your art. It's easy to start thinking about monetizing your work as soon as you start creating. But the best part about making art is being able to enjoy it, so give yourself plenty of time to do that before thinking business.

2) Set the terms to what you're comfortable with. Be kind to yourself and draw healthy boundaries.

3) Make what you want to make! There's always room for some collaboration, but at the end of the day you're the one making it, so keep that in mind.

When you’re not busy throwing some clay on the wheel, what are you up to?

These days if I’m not in the studio, I enjoy being outside, taking photos, eating good food, and spending quality time with friends and family. I was doing a podcast with a friend pre-covid-19, and it was such a nice/different creative outlet my partner and I were pouring into at that time. Pottery requires a lot of my energy, so any time spent outside of that is usually doing something that rejuvenates me.

What advice do you have for people interested in learning ceramics?

I think everyone should try taking a class! Clay is such a unique thing to work with. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re having trouble getting the hang of it. As with a lot of things, ceramics is really just about curiosity and practice.

Video by Arjay Bernardino, editing by Joanne Paek, music by ila orbis.

To find something meaningful to add to your home and stay updated about Joanne's latest creations and upcoming pop-ups, stay connected with her here.

If you'd like to see her work and say hi in person, she'll be joining us at our upcoming Sample Sale in November!

A big thank you to Still Life Ceramics for letting us use their space this afternoon.

Shop Joanne's outfits:

The Leanna Jumpsuit
The Nova Jumpsuit
The Dawn Top