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Art & Life with Heidi Fahrenbacher

Today we’d like to introduce you to Heidi Fahrenbacher.

Heidi, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
At 15, I took my first ceramics class and I was hooked. I was also awful. Awful. I struggled at the potter’s wheel for years but liked the challenge. In college, I wanted to become a gerontologist. Before the beginning of my sophomore year, my dad sat me down and advised me to do what I loved instead. (What a good guy!) I went to the registrar’s office and changed all my courses for the fall. Looking back, it was the correct decision.

Bella Joy Pottery was started in 2006. In the spring of 2013, I had hip surgery. To some, this may not seem like a big deal, but as a potter, your most valuable tool is your body and mine was broken. Due to the recovery process, which takes about a year, I had to change my production methods. My porcelain vessels are created in Plainwell, MI, which is between Chicago and Detroit.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I create functional ceramics that are decorated with colorful glazes and playful illustrations. I develop my own original clay prototypes on a potters wheel, fabricate plaster molds to mimic my originals, and form vessels in my molds with liquid porcelain. Each piece is created, finished, and glazed by hand.

I develop all my own glazes and each illustration is based on my original drawings.

I am inspired by how bold colors and whimsical illustration can influence peoples’ moods.

A customer approached me once and said that when she has a bad day she comes home and has a cup of tea out of my mug and it makes her feel better, it makes her happy. I was floored, she got it.

I put a lot of hard work and love into each handcrafted piece and for my work to resonate so deeply with another person, to help them have a better day, is really inspiring.

Watch out pharmaceutical companies.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
Being an artist is difficult. Typically, we are sensitive and put our hearts into our work. Then we put it out in the world to be judged, which to some can be stifling.

I am an introvert with excellent social skills, which means I can pass as an extrovert, but it wears me out. When I do get lonely, I reach out to other artist friends who fully understand the struggle.

I have met the most wonderful people through workshops, art fairs, and online. Social media can be a double-edged sword, it can be great to connect, but if you just blew up a load of work in the kiln, got rejected for a show, and are broke-going on to social media can create animosity by comparing yourself to others. Please try not to that. We all have our own struggles, we are all hiding them.

As my grandmother used to say, if you put everyone’s’ problems in a bowl, you would take yours back in a heartbeat.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
You can purchase my work online, can visit my brick and mortar store in rural Michigan, or visit me at an art fair.

I will be at the 57th St. Art Fair in Hyde Park in June.

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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