By Jeannie Howard
When chefs are depending on that last ingredient to finish the story of a meticulously thought out entree they reach out to Jered Nelson, self-proclaimed clayboy and owner of Jered‘s Pottery, to create something truly inspiring.
“The same sentiment has been reiterated a number of times by different clients; they have worked so hard to create these entrees to have the right flavor profile,” Nelson described. “They are using local, seasonal ingredients and they are spending all this time on very specialized sources and to then put it on a $2 white China plate just seems wrong.”
Jered described how a majority of his chef clients will know exactly what an entree will taste like and how the plating of it will look, but seldom do they know what they want the serving vessel to look like, and this is where he comes in.
“When chefs come to me they might give me an indication of what colors they like or think will work and then generally they let me go. It is inspiring having the food and seeing how I can help them with the message of what they feel is most important for the entrée,” he said. “I think one of the things that has really helped me is to just be open to working with these artists. Once you become open, they see you as a resource to improve what they are doing.”
With a client list made up of some of the country’s top chefs and having his pieces sold in local and national retailers, it is clear that Nelson’s artistic eye and creative openness have been a driving force behind his word-of-mouth reputation, however, he believes that his skills and natural problem solver abilities are the real reason.
“I am not your typical potter in that I know how to make things exceptionally strong and resilient for the kitchen. To be able to go through the dish washer and to hold up to multiple platings in a night,” he said. “I think that since I am not set in my ways clients can come to me with a project that needs a new process and I’ll figure it out. I’ve been doing this long enough that I can figure it out and get things done quickly.”
Nelson admitted he really enjoys seeing his art in use. “It feels really good to see them in the kitchen, to see them being plated on, and to see them at the tables.”
Being a large volume production studio, Nelson does have a skilled group of staff in the studio who are able to help. “I do all the throwing. For those pieces I’ll throw and trim them, then hand them over to be glazed,” he said. “If it’s a handmade piece I’ll make a few of them and figure out the best way to do it and then show the person who is making the handmade stuff how to do it.”
Throughout the more than 25 years Nelson has been a potter he has held a variety of jobs, such as working in factories, riding in a rodeo and being in the Navy, but he always went back to the clay.
“I’ve always been interested in the arts but is has always been the physicality of the clay—putting your hands directly on your medium and manipulating it—that makes it fun, relaxing and challenging,” he said. “There’s a lot of detail in all of the processes in ceramics that lend itself to inspiration. The way the clay moves and the different properties of it.”
With a steady stream of custom orders, from dishes to sculptures and murals, Nelson makes sure to have personal time honing his craft. “At least once a week, I’ll come in when all the staff is gone and I’ll sit and make a few pieces that are for fun.”
This time alone is something that Nelson said is important to him and continuing to build his skill as a potter first and artist second. “I love what I do—I love making things. It holds true for me that my artwork comes on the base of my craft.”
Jered’s Pottery | 867 S. 19th St., Richmond | (510) 680-5444 | Jeredspottery.com