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I love anything you can make with your own two hands. I also love anything someone else made with their two hands. A collection of only handmade dinnerware is a goal of mine, and a few pieces from Notary Ceramics will most definitely be a part of it. Sarah Van Raden, owner of Notary Ceramics, has created any pottery-lovers dream collection. Muted tones and minimal design, each piece speaks volumes for itself. With a walk-in showroom/shop in Portland opening in a few days, lets just say Notary Ceramics is here to stay (and to swoon at!) 

Where did you grow up? Did living in that area influence your work?

I grew up in a small rural oregon town called helvetia. The town is more a string of farms and a church and a tavern. It is bucolic and enchanting and was a magical place to grow up. Growing up in this beautiful and wild country certainly influenced the way I feel about nature and about creating using our natural resources, such as clay.

What made you decide to start Notary Ceramics

​Notary Ceramics began as an idea that I had and pitched to my uncle who, at the time, was a full time potter of over 30 years. I wanted to create an all white line of stoneware that was neither precious nor was it fragile and would be able to stand the test of time. After a year or so my uncle decided it was time to retire and I decided that I would keep paying for the domain name in hopes that one day I could hire another potter to create the pieces again. After five years I began taking a ceramics class as a stress reliever and a way to express my own creativity. I was so in love with this medium and with the calming effects of throwing that I decided to devote more time and energy to it. This meant that I would need to buy my own wheel so that I could practice at home. I spend all of my extra moments on that old wheel until I decided that I would like to persue ceramics as a career. I gave up my 10 year long career of photo styling and set up a website and began making wholesale orders for a few stores. Now I am two and a half years into this business and I cant imagine spending my time any other way.​

What other artistic hobbies did you try outside of pottery?

I had a line of clothing for a couple of years after college. Unfortunately I really didn't enjoy the act of sewing, so I eventually gave that up to be a manager and a buyer at a small clothing boutique. I also played with knitting and felting wool for a while. I really enjoy gardening with my husband and reading to my daughters. Most of my energy and time spent on creative endeavors have led me to where I am today.

Why has pottery stuck with you compared to other interests?

It is an immediate product and a process that I truly love every part of. I love being physically tired at the end of the day and watching my body get strong and capable over the past couple of years. Other hobbies have become tedious and I have reached my knowledge limit, but with pottery I find that I am learning new things all the time and I love being challenged in that way.​

What has been the hardest thing about running your business? What has been the most rewarding?

The hardest thing has simply been making time for it. I have two young daughters that take up the majority of my time. It took a long time to find a balance and to figure out how to incorporate my business into my family life. It has been so rewarding to see my girls fall in love with the arts and to genuinly be interested in what I do for a living. I love thinking that I am setting an example for them as to how a woman can be both a good mama and a business woman and a creative. 

Most of your pottery falls into a simple color palette. What is your reasoning or inspiration behind this? 

My palette in life seems to stick with these neutral tones. From my home decor to my clothing to the plants I buy for our garden, everything is soft and serene and neutral. I find these tones to be the most soothing to me and stand the test of time and trends.​

You recently moved into a new workspace. What elements make an ideal workspace for you?

NATURAL LIGHT!!! I worked in my basement studio for two years with zero natural light and very low ceilings. I was able to tolerate it as long as I did because I was so inspired by the need to create and felt grateful to simply have a place to do that. However, being in an airy space with exposed beams, high ceilings and ample natural light is more inspiring that I could have every imagined.​ 

Do you have anything exciting coming up that you would like to share with our readers?

We are opening our doors on July 29th to the public and will soon be announcing regular shop hours. While the space is primarily a working studio we are also very happy to finally have a beautiful showroom/shop to show off the finished product.​ I was also recently interviewed and shot for a documentary that Fuji Film is doing on female creative entrepreneurs. It will debut in October at a big event in Seattle. I am feeling very fortunate to be a part of it.