Women of Beet & Yarrow #1: Mae Phillips

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Women of Beet & Yarrow #1: Mae Phillips

March is Women’s History Month. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to introduce you to the amazing women who grace the team at Beet & Yarrow. This will be an ongoing series, showcasing the lives, loves, and creative practices of the women we spend our days with here in the shop.

We’ll kick it off with an interview with Megan Phillips, aka Mae—inspired by her paternal grandmother’s middle name. Mae has been at Beet & Yarrow since August 2016.  

What is your favorite flower? 

My favorite flower is the Marigold—they are bold, familiar, and hardy, with a delightful grassy scent!

Your work at B&Y is tactile, and so is work as a potter. Can you explain why this kind of work is important to you? Are they complementary to each other?

I’ve always been a very tactile person. As a kid, I was never afraid to get dirty, and still can’t keep my clothes or hands clean to this day. Physical touch is my love language. I actually applied to B&Y with my pottery portfolio! I get real joy from problem solving, and understanding how something works; both pottery and floral design ask us to understand how objects fill a space. The through line for me is definitely navigating the world through touch, but also a constant desire to understand form, and what makes it meaningful or beautiful. 

How did you start making pottery? What does your artistic practice look like?

I made lots of little polymer clay crafts when I was growing up—my dad would “commission” me to make ornaments for all of our extended family at Christmas time. Besides that, I had never really touched real clay until college. I was an Art Education major, and was begrudgingly required to take one intro ceramics class that I couldn’t wait to just get out of the way. Turns out it’s a good thing I took it early on, because I ended up totally obsessed and graduated with a degree in Fine Art Ceramics! Pottery tapped part of myself I didn’t have access to before. It’s a very physical process of manifesting emotion into visible form. Until the past few years, I always worked in community studios, and even taught classes—but now I have a home studio in my basement. I’m grateful to have my sacred space to create privately with no limits, but definitely miss the collaborative aspect and accountability of being surrounded by peers. 

What's your most cherished part of the process? 

Throwing clay on a pottery wheel is a meditative process that can’t be explained, only experienced. This is one of my favorite parts, especially when I have a lot on my mind - it can be very cathartic and clearing. Pottery can also be really challenging! The materials are temperamental, and you never know *exactly* how something is going to turn out. That being said, my all time favorite part is cracking the final glaze kiln when it’s cooled and seeing what’s inside for the first time! Even though I literally have my hands on each piece from start to finish, and have methodical practices for surface design, pieces always have a way of declaring themselves at the end. The excitement (and anxiety!) of anticipating the final product is just the best. 

You can find Mae's pottery available for purchase right here at Beet & Yarrow.

Stay tuned for our next Women of B & Y interview—Britt is next up!