Meet the Maker: Britt McDaniel, Paper & Clay
Britt McDaniel has been running her pottery company, Paper & Clay, full-time for three years. You may have seen her work at Porcellino’s — she made some of the plates they use. She dabbles a bit in other projects and is excited to be working alongside other makers in the recently formed The Made By Project. Britt is also the co-founder and organizer of Memphis Indie Holiday Market which is a curated craft show that takes place each December at Muddy’s Bakeshop in Midtown.
Describe your path to becoming a maker. I took my first ceramics class at the University of Memphis about ten years ago and immediately fell in love, but my path to becoming a maker was a long one. I didn’t think being a potter was a particularly sensible occupation, so I had quite a few years of soul searching before deciding to make a go of it. I realized that the advice “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” was total crap and decided that I needed to find the thing that I loved enough to suffer through the bad days. I think that’s how you find a career you love. It’s like finding your soulmate, too. It’s not going to be a fairytale. You need to find the person you want to ugly-cry with. I ugly-cry with my work fairly often! But man, I love it. Even on the bad days.
What inspires your work? My work is influenced by clean and simple Scandinavian and mid-century modern design, but my inspiration really comes from a desire to make high-quality, functional pieces that you can use on a daily basis. I love the idea that my mug could be someone’s “I love to start my day with this coffee mug.”
Favorite thing about being a maker? Ohhh, freedom! Though there’s definitely a flip-side, I love the freedom of working my own schedule, listening to a good audio book or podcast while I work, and being able to bring my pup along every day. I’m a bit of a control freak so I also really like being the decision maker. Well, most of the time.
How does being a maker help you look at other artisan products? It has definitely trained me to have a more discerning eye, and it has also made me more intentional about the products I invest in personally. I try to support other makers as much as I can, and definitely choose quality over quantity.
Outside of your work, do you “make” anything else? Food! I love cooking. I also love bookmaking (it’s where the “Paper” in Paper & Clay comes from), but I rarely have time to indulge that hobby these days. I hope to bring it back into my shop one day! What is the most important lesson you’ve learned? Figure out what you want FIRST and then put in the very work hard to get it. Smile and nod at anyone who tells you you’re “selling out” when you start to see some success selling your work. Student Loans are unbelievably stifling and traditional education isn’t for everyone. And dogs are the secret to happiness.
Paper and Clay www.shoppaperandclay.com
(free shipping within Memphis with the code LOCAL)
Find Britt’s products at City & State on Broad. Studio visits by appointment only.