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Local pottery pro’s work earns praise

Matthew Wilson has been carving out a name for himself since his sophomore year of high school, when he first sat down at a pottery wheel. Today, the 30-year-old Elmira native owns and operates Wilson Ceramics in Norwich, where he is also a middle school art teacher.

“In high school … we had a really solid ceramics program, so I sign(ed) up … and ended up really enjoying it,” Wilson said. “For those years, I focused on the pottery wheel and just learning tactics.”




Honing in on his high school hobby, Wilson said, led to a collegiate concentration in ceramics during his time at SUNY Oswego. It was there, he said, that Wilson Ceramics began to take shape.

 “In college, I learned all the different techniques and ideas … and (the business) sort of happened naturally,” he said.

After early commissions from friends and family, Wilson said, he built name recognition at local and regional craft fairs and, in time, a market following.

“I’d sell at shows … and I was given the opportunity to host a couple of my own exhibitions,” he said. “From there, I started selling my stuff to the public.”

In 2011, following his appointment at Norwich Middle School, Wilson said, he reached out to the Chenango Arts Council, establishing one of his most fruitful affiliations. In cooperation with that Norwich-based organization, Wilson maintains a retail showcase and offers a popular series of ceramics and art classes for children and adults.




Wilson Ceramics pieces are also available at the Earlville Opera House, Chasing Quinn and Wild Owl Cafe, all in Chenango County. Additionally, he creates a line of best-selling urns for area funeral homes.

For more information, or to view Wilson’s work, visit wilsonceramics.com or find Wilson Ceramics on Facebook.

Much of the demand for his work, Wilson said, has become commission-driven.

“Now, most of the stuff I sell is through commissions (via) my Facebook or website,” Wilson said. “I can’t keep up with the demand. It’s definitely flourishing.”

Wilson said that, while being featured in PBS’ “Artist Cafe” series in 2014 generated far-reaching interest, the nature of ceramics makes shipping nationally difficult. As a result, he said, Wilson Ceramics’ clientele is largely local.

He said, “The majority of (customers) are definitely local to (Chenango) County. This is where I get the most sales … or from my hometown of Elmira.”

Setting Wilson apart is not only his work, but his approach to the art form.

 “I think ceramics is the most fun of all art forms,” Wilson said. “I really like the idea that you have to master the craft to be able to make a lot of these things.”

He said, “When you paint or draw, you’re seeing it before your eyes, but with ceramics, you don’t know what’s going to happen and it’s a lot more exciting to open that kiln up and see what went down.” Wilson added, “When you actually get it right, it’s a much better feeling and there’s something to be said (for) having a one-of-a-kind piece.”

Though he throws functional pieces such as bowls, vases, plates and cups, Wilson said, his frequent use of a unique, Native American-inspired technique elevates the aesthetics of his pottery.

“Most popular is my horsehair pottery,” he said. “I actually take horse hair and burn it into the pottery and it leaves carbon marks. It’s Midwestern and Native American in style, and there’s really no one else in this area doing that.” He added, “It’s what I’m most known for and, when I go to crafts shows, that’s what sells out.”




Wilson hopes to grow Wilson Ceramics into a brick-and-mortar home with a studio, retail and gallery space, while continuing to foster creativity in Chenango County.

“This area doesn’t really have a hub like that,” he said, “so that would be my end goal — eventually having … my own space and getting other people into it.”

Wilson’s next adult ceramics course through the Chenango Arts Council will take place this April.

For more information, or to view Wilson’s work, visit wilsonceramics.com or find Wilson Ceramics on Facebook.

Source: The Daily Star

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