Meet the Artist SPOTLIGHT: Donna McGee
Since Pinch’s founding in 1979, we’ve been staunch supporters of independent artisans. We are constantly inspired by artists all over the country (and those close to home) who pursue their creative visions and help enhance the world with their work. Our shop is an homage to the beautiful and the odd, and we are endlessly grateful to curate a space so filled with charming, handcrafted goods.
To show our gratitude for the people who help us make that possible, we’ve launched a SPOTLIGHT series this year. We'll be taking you behind the scenes of our beloved artists' studios, interviewing them about their processes and snapping photos of their workspaces—bringing you right into the brilliant center of their creativity!
This month, we talk to Donna McGee, whose sturdy ceramics are inspired by the western Massachusetts scenery that surround her studio in Hadley. Her unique vases, bowls, and platters often feature rolling hills, chickens, plowed fields, and other natural scenery. Donna's work has been at Pinch since 1982, and we're so glad to continue to carry her pottery!
Pinch: You’ve been with Pinch from early days—what’s it been like to watch the gallery/store evolve as a space for pottery?
Donna McGee: It’s been great! Jena was so well poised to take over when she did. She had a contemporary fashion sense and the confident passion to take Pinch into its next phase.
P: And tell us about your studio, East Street Clay. How did it come about, and how has the space changed over the years?
DM: I lived in Boston, and some potters I shared a studio with were moving out to western Mass and setting up a new studio with others here. I decided to be part of this group; we bought a local kiln, took it down, and rebuilt it at our studio. It really hasn’t changed much, although fewer of us share it now. We are so fortunate to have this wonderful space.
P: How did you get into pottery?
DM: I was an art major in college with a concentration in drawing. Took one pottery class in college and hated it – it is hard leaning how to throw! Two years later, I took another class and decided this was what I wanted to do.
P: What’s your favorite aspect of working with clay?
DM: Presently, painting the slips on freshly made pots. Finding the right brush to give the texture I am looking for in that particular pot, having the slip be the perfect consistency, and brushing it on with abandon.
P: What does a typical day in your studio look like?
DM: After a six mile bike ride/commute, I put the fresh flowers I’ve brought into a vase, and my lunch in the fridge. Then I check the pots I’ve been working on, or unload a kiln, or continue decorating. I work in a two-week cycle: one week making the pots, one week decorating, glazing, firing.
P: Who did/do you learn from?
DM: I am self-taught. Had books, encouragement, and perseverance. I am still learning!
P: What inspires you?
DM: Strong functional pots with integrity. Also, patterns in nature, the timeless beauty of the human figure, and exciting surface treatment, whether on a pot I’ve made or one by someone else. I find earthy, rough pots with a primitive vitality to be the most energizing to me.
P: What can we expect from you next? Any new designs or glazes or images on the horizon?
DM: Each pot is new! More drawing, more color, more exploring sketches on pots (for the record, all the work has one transparent glaze).
Stop by the Northampton shop to view Donna's work!