Pottery artist takes creativity to the wheel
Inspiration can strike anywhere. For Auburn’s Scott Clarkson, it happened while he was cooking. He was standing at the stove wondering where to put down a dripping pot lid when he decided there had to be an easier way.
So Clarkson, who makes pottery, began working on a design for a ceramic pot lid holder.
“I had three or four prototypes,” he said recently. “(I knew) it had to be universal for lids of all sizes. At one point I threw a bowl (on the potter’s wheel) and was trying to push it to a point. That’s when I saw that I needed to shape it in a certain way and add cutouts. The cutouts are what make it work.”
The finished product is a holder about 7 inches tall ( and can be as large as 10 inches tall) that keeps lids, spatulas or spoons upright so that condensation and grease drip directly into the bottom of the bowl.
“There are four cutouts,” he explained. “That way, you can put small lids and large lids in the lid keeper. It holds up to two lids at one time.”
He creates the lid keepers, fires them and glazes them in his garage workshop. Since everything is done by hand, each one is unique.
The next step was getting a patent for his invention. Working with a lawyer, Clarkson did a patent search and discovered that lid holders have been around since at least the 1800s. But the good news was, none of them were like his.
“There was nothing ceramic. They were all metal or wires or plastic,” he said.
It took nearly two years — including time holding a provisional patent — but he received his final patent about six months ago.
He sells the lid keepers out of his home and at some local events — he’ll have a booth at Saturday’s Old Town Country Christmas. He’s also planning to offer them on etsy.com, a website that specializes in handmade items.
Elk Grove resident Jackie Macres said she likes the lid keeper because it is “unique and beautiful, aesthetically, just sitting by the stove.” She’s also discovered more uses for it.
“One day I was trying to figure out how to keep a cookbook open, so I decided to put the (lid keeper) on it to see if that would work, and it did,” she said. “I also use it for the tea strainer and for spoons. It kind of holds everything you are working with in the kitchen.”
Clarkson’s interest in making pottery began in high school. He then rediscovered it a few years ago when he signed up for a class at Placer School for Adults.
“I enjoy the creation of things from clay — creating something beautiful,” he said.
Besides lid keepers, he makes big and small urns, “because people like to take ashes from departed loved ones and give them to different family members,” he said.
He also makes compost holders.
“You put (the holder) beside the sink and put compostable material there and then take it to the compost pile,” he explained.
Then there are bird feeders.
“They have a big roof made out of one strong piece of clay that slides up and you can fill it from there. It has a little tray at the bottom where the seeds come out,” he said.
That’s in addition to the serving bowls, artistic pieces and custom requests.
One of his current projects is building a mosaic, using ceramic pieces that have gone through the raku process.
“It kind of looks like a butterfly — with blue, green, gold and some reds,” he said about the mosaic. “When you do raku firing, a bunch of different colors come out.”
Clarkson, a former elementary school teacher, is now focusing full time on his pottery and hopes to eventually teach a pottery class at Placer School for Adults.
Reach Gloria Young at firstname.lastname@example.org