Mushroom mug by Dayton’s Ember and Art (photo courtesy of Ember and Art)
Home + Garden

Ember and Art

Dayton-based artist Nicole Kessel’s line of pottery reflects her love for the outdoors in pieces inspired by patterns and colors found in the natural world.

Nicole Kessel is fired up about pottery. She has been since 2018, when she received a small kiln as a gift. Soon, she was trying her hand at throwing clay on the weekends and experimenting with different glazes. Kessel, who had worked as a photographer for almost a decade before taking a job as an administrative assistant, realized she missed being creative.

Near the beginning of 2020, Kessel dove further into pottery as a career, and her love for hiking, kayaking, traveling and photography shines through in the outdoors-inspired line she makes in her Dayton home studio and sells under the name Ember and Art. 

“The lighting and colors and textures that are found in nature … I feel like I tried to translate into the pottery, because pottery is very tactile,” Kessel says. “Just working with the wet clay itself is very organic. It’s literally like playing in the mud.”

Kessel throws her mugs on a wheel and lets them air dry for at least 12 hours before creating handles for each and carving surface decorations. The mugs are then glazed, a part of the process Kessel has evolved since the start of her business. After beginning with commercial glazes, she pursued the trial-and-error process of making her own.

Kessel’s mushroom mugs began as a whim but quickly became a customer favorite. Other nature-themed pieces depict floral and celestial elements. Kessel says she loves treating each mug as an empty canvas for what inspires her each day. She also makes oil bottles, plates, vases, garden bells, salt-and-pepper shakers and other Earth-inspired pieces that serve as both beautiful and functional works of art. 

“With the speckled pottery, specifically, it does have that harkening back to nature,” she says. “As you’re drinking your morning coffee, you have that connection.”

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