Open Studios: The Potter

In a career of unexpected twists and turns, Amanda Wright has come full circle, and yet she continues to push ahead. After leaving her job as a fashion designer and relocating from Los Angeles to Napa Valley’s St. Helena, she found her current calling as a potter by chance when she took a class at a small community arts center. “I started by making a lot of hand-built and slab pieces,” she says. “Eventually I got on a pottery wheel, and I knew right away it was what I was supposed to be doing.”

She began by making functional pottery, including bowls, plates and pitchers. But things got interesting right away. “I started to sneak fun, bold and sometimes humorous details into my pieces,” she says. “Eventually the details were my focus and the form became just a blank canvas for them.”

Wright’s star rose quickly, with work that’s almost instantly recognizable. The details she uses reference her former fashion design career, and they include zippers, spikes, studs and straps. “Fashion is one of the biggest influences in my work,” she says. “I have always loved street trends that are elevated to a designer level, and I’ve heavily utilized elements of 1980s and 1990s punk rock in my work.”

She has veered from tableware and vessels to wall art and pendant lighting, but recently it’s come back to the tabletop with the Atmosphere dinnerware collection she’s working on with designer Jay Jeffers. Later this year, she plans to wade into new territory again when her work begins incorporating imagery and text addressing the current political climate and women’s issues. Looking to the future, Wright says, “It will be exciting to tie together design, beauty and message.” - Mary Jo Bowling

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