“I played around with clay in elementary school like everyone else — pinch pots, and whatever. But it wasn’t until college when I studied with Merrill Krabill my sophomore year, that learned hand-building and how to throw. Then I was hooked. It was so exciting.

I liked drawing. I liked to doodle and stuff, but I would critique myself too much. I felt there was a standard I had to measure up to. But with ceramics, I felt free to do what I wanted. Working with my hands felt much more ‘of the earth’ than drawing. I feel like you’ve got much more of a physical connection to a piece than when you’re drawing something. I was able to shut my brain off and work with my hands.

The other thing I love about ceramics is that I can make something I know someone will use. Just the physical use of an object that you can appreciate daily is special to me.

One of my proudest achievements was throwing these ten mugs for the people I would be living with at Kenwood House off-campus. I drew the letter ‘K’ on a piece of paper – I made a stencil for myself – and then I cut the Ks out of clay discs. I used a needle and put them on the outside of the mugs. I ended up glazing them white and purple, Goshen College colors.

I’ve always tried to work towards how I can link those two things – doodling, drawing, and clay.

Right now, I’m working as a production potter at MudLOVE in Warsaw. I got here at the end of my senior year. They had these coasters they needed made. Now I’m primarily glazing and throwing mugs, but I try to make my stuff on the side.

The transition between being a full-time college student and having a full-time job where I’m trying to find time to work on my pottery around that – it’s been an adjustment and still something I’m working on.

I appreciate the willingness and openness of the potters to share their knowledge. I’m interning with Justin Rothshank right now, and he’s just been so willing and open to letting me into his process.

Norah Ruth Amstutz, she’s really great. She’s been one of my mentors. [Potter] Jesse Woodworth – he’s in Shipshewana…I attribute a lot of these connections to my professor, Merrill Krabill.

I have all my family and friends on social media, but on the Goshen side of things, that’s the reason I stayed in Goshen after graduation: the pottery community. It’s so strong here. I know I will feel much more supported starting in a much stronger community than going to Pennsylvania, where I am from, and just buying a wheel and finding a kiln.

When I get old enough, I hope to give the same kind of guidance and assistance that these people have given to me.”

Abbie Thomas - Goshen Arts Council