Shana Brautigam is a potter and teaching artist working at Rooted in Clay pottery studio in Rindge, NH. She makes her forms using hand-building techniques, such as pinching, coiling, and slab building. Without using the wheel, Shana creates a variety of unique forms, including everything from bowls and mugs to teapots, large vessels, and clay instruments. She often decorates the surface by imprinting natural objects, such as leaves, ferns, evergreens, and nutshells into the clay. By incorporating these designs into her work, Shana shares her love and respect for the natural world, while bringing the beauty of the outdoors into your home. She fires her work outside in a wood-fired kiln, built using old electric kilns. The kiln is fired with branches gathered from the local woods and scraps from nearby mills. Using a local and renewable resource to fire her pottery helps Shana reduce her expenses and reliance on fossil fuels. Firing with wood, the flames travel throughout the kiln, touching each pot and creating a range of beautiful earth tones and surface effects. Towards the end of the firing, soda ash is introduced into the atmosphere. The soda ash vaporizes immediately and adds to the interesting surface effects, creating a subtle sheen on the work. Unloading the pots from the kiln is always exciting, as the pots come out different every time, with many surprises.
Shana grew up in Durham, NH, near the seacoast. Her earliest experience with clay was when she was three years old, grabbing handfuls of green clay from the banks of the great bay at Wagon Hill Farm, and shaping it into small objects and figures. Shana was exposed to many art forms as a young child, including painting, collage, tie-dye, batik, puppet-making, etc. She got experience as a young entrepreneur running a small business with her two sisters. They made marbleized creations and sold them at a few local fairs. Shana became more interested in pottery when she was in fourth grade, and Mr. Tullar's wife, Sharyn, came in and gave a wheel throwing demonstration. Shana starting taking classes from Sharyn, and learned to make pots on the wheel. She loved spinning the clay, and forming it in small cups, bowls, and jars. In high school, Shana continued in Ceramics, with two wonderful teachers, Tracy Bylinsky and Tim Lawrence. The summer of her senior year, Shana wanted to continue working in clay and was lucky to find a potter, Tim Christensen, just 2 miles down the road, in Newmarket. Tim opened his doors and allowed Shana to join him in the studio, watching him work, while working on her own pieces. The mentorship that developed between Shana and Tim was invaluable. He was new to the pottery business and Shana picked up all kinds of knowledge about how to get started, market pottery, and run a business. Tim gave Shana skills, confidence, and knowledge necessary to take off. After graduating from high school, Shana had a brief stay at Bennington College, and then decided to get serious about pottery with her boyfriend, Ethan Hamby. Together, they started Rooted in Clay in 2003. They settled in Rindge NH, where potter Hideaki Myamura had built a pottery studio. Together, Shana and Ethan developed a unique hand-built style, built a wood-fired kiln using old electric kilns, and worked relentlessly at building up the business.
In 2010 Shana took over Rooted in Clay and continues to run the studio and business by herself. She teaches pottery at her studio and offers school programs. Shana sells her pottery at the studio, through a number of craft shops, and travels to several fairs throughout the year.