Brand Profile: J Schatz
Somewhere along the way to visit Jim Schatz, we took a wrong turn. A few wrong turns, actually. What was supposed to be a 3-hour drive turned into a 5-hour trek, but as the noise of urban life faded behind us, we gave in to it. Why stress? Before us stretched the verdant glory of upstate New York, the sun was shining for the first time in days and it was warm enough to drive with the windows down. By the time we finally arrived, we were unplugged from the city and ready to be amazed.
For Jim, his work process begins with “clay and a sense of wonder.” His studio, run out of an old clapboard house, seems to represent the “clay” portion. Filled with kilns, molds, sketches, and paint, it has everything he needs to create his bird feeders and run J Schatz, the ceramics company he founded in 2004. His home, just a few minutes away, undoubtedly fulfills the “wonder” portion of his process.
“That’s a little Black-capped chickadee, they say hi to me in the mornings!” Jim’s house is built into the side of a sloping hill, overlooking a creek, and surrounded by trees. He tests all of his products here, so ceramic feeders of various shapes and colors hang in the branches around us. He calls out the names of the birds as they land on his feeders. White breasted nuthatch. American goldfinch. The rose-breasted grosbeak. He shows us his garden, where he and his partner have installed stone steps leading to benches, so they can enjoy various vantage points. “You see that giant hole in the tree? That’s from a hairy woodpecker who comes around here.”
This is what excites us about Jim and his stoneware. It’s not just because they are handcrafted one by one, or just that they are playfully and elegantly designed. He gets meaningful results in his work because it involves him and his life completely. Walking around his little patch of property, we started to feel that wonder that is so central to his work: the feeling of surprise, admiration and awe, aroused by something incredible.
Now that we’re back in the city, we wanted to share a little sense of that wonder, of what it was like to unplug and be inspired by what inspires Jim and his work. We hope you see what we mean. (Hint: better experienced with headphones.)