Inverness potter to display wares at Dance Palace

David Briggs
Inverness potter Noelle Hiam throws a vase at her home.   
11/30/2017

The day after Thanksgiving, Noelle Hiam sat on the porch of her Inverness cottage applying the finishing touches to a delicate coffee mug she had recently molded, sculpted and glazed. The closest big box store, with its Black Friday mania, was many miles away. “One of the reasons I’m selling pottery is that I want to empower people to make things and to not buy mass-produced items,” she explained. “It would make me even happier if someone saw my work and it inspired them to make their own pottery instead of buying mine.” Ms. Hiam, who works for CLAM and Point Reyes Books when she’s not throwing clay, is also the owner of the new ceramics company Silt Clay. She specializes in mugs, bowls, small dishes and her signature item: pour-over coffee cones. She prefers to keep it simple, decorating her pieces primarily with streaks of light blues, whites and greys and an inscribed underglaze “N” on the bottom; her works will be for sale at the Dance Palace’s annual holiday crafts fair this week. Since moving to Inverness a year ago, she has studied under Inverness potter Peter Sheremeta, who lends his studio for Silt Clay creations. “She has a very good eye for shape and is an excellent thrower,” Mr. Sheremeta said. “When she glazes, she does these lines on the outside of her piece that can take a while; her patience is quite commendable.” Ms. Hiam has been knitting, painting and drawing since she was 8, but developed an interest in pottery in her teens. Then, during her final semester at Wesleyan University in 2015, she took a class. “I loved it immediately, but became overwhelmed by the time it would take to master it,” she said. “I studied earth science in college and I was studying clays as I started pottery! It was the perfect blending of my interests in art, farming and environmental science.” Ms. Hiam considers the ceramics process to be therapeutic, requiring her to center herself before every throw. It also forces her to sharpen her vision, then to let it go. “In other art forms, you can continue to alter your project,” she said. “Pottery does not allow for that and it’s been a really valuable experience to let go. I feel like I’ve learned so much about myself from being forced to have a fully-formed vision and figure out exactly what I need to do to get there.” Learn more about Silt Clay at Noelle Hiam’s table at the Dance Palace holiday fair, this Friday from 4 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or at siltclay.com.