Julie designs a distinctive mid-range (cone 6 electric), lead-free, fully functional stoneware collection.Inspired by the beauty and flora of western North Carolina’s stately pines, majestic oaks, lush shrubbery, rolling landscapes and open sky, her hand-carved originals offer a balanced and breathtaking nature-scape. Each unique piece features exquisite images of the stunning scenery and terrain of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
About Julie Calhoun-Roepnack
When did you first start making your craft?
I have been fascinated with pottery for as long as I can remember. As a young child, my mother would enroll me in decorative glazing classes on pre-fired sculptural items. During elementary school, we were taught basic hand-building techniques such as pinch, coil, and slab. Back then, the palette choices for food-safe glazes were very limited. Most of the brightly colored glazes had lead in them. This was a big disappointment for me because I have always been a bit of a “color” junkie.
In the early 90’s when I decided to get certified to teach art education at Florida Atlantic University, I was required to take a pottery course. While I was attending the required hand-building course, simultaneously on the other side of the studio there were several mesmerizing accomplished potters, rapidly throwing beautiful vessels of all shapes and sizes. Watching their expertise got me hooked. The next semester I took my first wheel-throwing course and never looked back.
What do you draw inspiration from?
Most folks who know something about the Arts and Crafts period during the early 20th century agree that my work has been strongly influenced by that period. There were so many studios doing breathtakingly beautiful work. Some of my personal favorites include: Roseville Della robia, Newcombe, Saturday Evening Girls Pottery, and Weller. These artists from the Arts and Crafts era used their knowledge of clay and glazes to celebrate nature with narrative scenes and uniquely shaped vessels. I like to think of my work as a continuation of that period.
How do you incorporate flowers into your work?
One of my pet-peeves about many of the “art vases” is that they aren’t designed to hold water for fresh cut flowers. Because I want my work to be functional, I always line the interior with a tight-fitting gloss glaze that will render the pot useful. I also fire my pots at 2230 degrees to make sure that they’re vitrified and dishwasher safe.
I am passionate about the environment and enjoy frequently using “honey bees” as subject matter for my work in an effort to promote the public’s awareness of their importance. I volunteer for “Bee City USA” an organization that promotes education for protecting the eco-system. I also use solar energy for firing my electric kiln.
When did you join the Guild and why?
For many years I have supported the Guild through attending the seasonal shows, and purchasing high quality art work at the guild shops. As I refined my craft and became more selective about where I wanted my work to be exhibited, I decided that the Southern Highland Crafts Guild was where I needed to be because of their reputation for quality and authenticity. I was juried into the Southern Highlands Craft Guild in 2018.
What is your favorite part of being a guild member?
So many good things have come to me from this effort. The members of the Guild are the rock stars of their crafts. Spending time with these people, who are so good at what they do, helps me to up my game and to run my business with the highest standards possible. Also, my increased income from the summer and fall shows has been substantial.
What is your participation in the guild?
Before doing my first show at the Cherokee Civic Center (which used to be the U.S. Cellular Center) I decided to volunteer to help direct traffic for the July show. After that, I started participating in the shows-both July and October. I am selling my pottery in the online guild shop and at the Biltmore Village Gallery and volunteer when there’s a need.
Do you teach workshops?
I taught a lot of pottery classes back in early 2000 when I lived in Cary, NC.
Occasionally I am invited to demonstrate or teach a specific craft technique, but I am very selective of when and where I can do that. I require approximately 6 month’s notice for proposals.