In The Studio With Michelle Barrett Ceramics | SCOUTV Episode #1

michelle barrett ceramicsMichelle Barrett, hard at work in her studio/sun porch. Photos by Adrianne Mathiowetz.

Welcome to the inaugural episode of SCOUTV—a brand new, multimedia collaboration between Scout Somerville and our friends at SCATV, your local community access station.

Now, as we put together each issue of Scout, we’ll be running around the city with SCATV’s intrepid team of videographers, shooting video and audio meant to bring the stories you find in the print magazine jumping off the page.

You’ll be able to find all of this collaborative content at scoutsomerville.com/SCOUTV as soon as our November/December local gift guide edition hits streets, but we wanted to give you a sneak preview of the series today. In this episode, you’ll meet Michelle Barrett of Michelle Barrett Ceramics, who makes beautiful pieces of pottery out of her Somerville home and launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this month to help further fund her work.

You may think you’re unfamiliar with the work of local potter Michelle Barrett, but it’s quite likely that you’ve already seen her ceramics around town. She’s the artist behind the plates and bowls at Fat Hen, the much-lauded Italian restaurant that opened up inside La Brasa just a few months ago, and she also crafted the coffee pots and vases you’ll find at Juliet in Union Square.

“I’m hugely inspired by nature,” Barrett says. “I think primarily because I’ve always lived in urban areas.” She jokes she has a tendency to pick up found objects from the ground—rocks, feathers, rusty nails—which later find their way onto her mugs and plates.

“Though a rusty nail has not yet made it onto a pot,” she says with a laugh.

michelle barrett ceramics

Since 2013, Barrett has been handcrafting small-batch ceramics in her home outside Teele Square, where she’s converted the apartment’s sun porch into a studio. It’s a peaceful, serene space. Light pours in through large front windows that overlook the residential street, illuminating clay-flecked surfaces. Rows of vases and mugs line the windowsills, ready for firing after being thrown on a wheel that hums quietly in the corner. Barrett’s French bulldog, Grace, periodically paws out to say hello.

The studio has an energy mirroring that of her work, one of quiet contemplation.

“I find that pottery—especially with a white background and a black illustration—is really peaceful that way,” she says. “That’s what I want the energy of my work to be—a piece that brings a sense of reflection to somebody’s day.”

michelle barrett ceramics

Unfortunately, the studio is also small, and the apartment is old—those wide windows don’t do much to keep out winter winds. Barrett has outgrown the space as her business has expanded, and earlier this month she launched a Kickstarter to help her move into her own, designated studio. (She currently glazes and fires her work at Mudflat in East Somerville.) The new space will give her a place to fire her own work, which will in turn allow her to take on more wholesale orders and, she says with a smile, “pursue world domination through ceramics.”

And she still plans to make pots and plates on her porch… though she’ll probably stick to doing so during the summer months.

You can find Barrett’s work online and at makers markets throughout greater Boston. 

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