Owner Traci Bowman is making the shop a fair-trade mission to help people in need
Editor’s note: The author is the shopowner’s son. This story was written as an assignment for a feature-writing class in which our reporter was enrolled.
By Dylan Bowman
Knightly News Reporter
HALIFAX — Clay is spinning on the wheel. Wet hands delicately mold forms out of large balls of rich, dark clay. It is easy to see that these are hands of a veteran: They are weathered, yet graceful, and they do not falter as they move and preserve unique forms. As the studio door closes behind the potter, all 5 feet 7 inches of her stands frazzled, her brunette hair glistening in the sun that is streaming in.
The Halifax community and surrounding areas are being introduced to a new pottery shop: Love of the Clay. The business is fueled by the dreams of owner, operator and potter Traci Bowman, who is excited to open up shop and introduce her work to the community. However, it is important to note that although Love of the Clay is a fresh addition to the artistic world, this is not Bowman’s first venture into the world of pottery.
“I opened my own pottery studio as a hobby/business and did that for seven years before taking a hiatus to homeschool my kids,” Bowman said. “Now, I am back in the pottery studio creating again.”
Bowman’s background in pottery has roots stretching back to her beloved grandmother, Naomi Cashner, who was a large part of her early life.
“She was a big inspiration to me,” Bowman stated. “I always loved painting ceramics at her house in the summertime when I was little.”
Bowman’s interest in the field peaked during a Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) course on pottery.
“I loved it, and in 2006, I went out to Mary Kelly’s for the first time.”
Mary Kelly, another potter and colleague of Bowman’s, taught her many pottery skills, helping her eventually begin her own work.
But how is this pottery shop different from the dozens of other pottery shops in Pennsylvania? According to Bowman, the mission behind Love of the Clay is deeper and more meaningful than first meets the eye.
“All of the pottery is handmade and fair-trade products, such as candles from the USA, wooden spoons from India and bracelets from teen mothers in Kenya, and are available for purchase,” Bowman said. “I like bringing notice to that to help them out.”
Fair-trade products are items from domestic or foreign artisans that are made and paid for in a fair way, unlike as in sweatshops that pay artisans and other workers by the penny for back-breaking labor. The purchase of these items not only supports fair systems of business around the world, but also supports people who are often in need and take part in making the products.
“I want my shop to bring more meaning to others than just me selling pottery for myself,” Bowman continued. “I want to bring awareness to the other organizations that help people and give some of my proceeds from the pottery to those that need it, who are in poverty, sexual slavery and other (distress).”
The building has a tagline that displays the mindset of the shop and its owner: “Celebrating creation, love, generosity and hope.”
Even though Love of the Clay only recently opened its doors, much of the Halifax community is responding well to the prospect of Bowman’s return to pottery.
Amy Reavey, a customer of Bowman’s previous work, is excited for the new shop and its merchandise.
“I am thrilled that Traci decided to open up a pottery shop again because her talents are too amazing to not be shared with everyone,” Reavey stated. “I could go on and on.”
The influence of the new shop seems to have spread fairly far, including to Central Penn, where a few students and staff are anticipating the opening. Trinity Etzweiler, a first-year student, is one of them.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the family doing something they love and turning it into a mission field,” Etzweiler stated. “I will definitely be coming in to see it!”
The family is also looking forward to the new business and the ministry it will bring to those in need. Traci’s husband, Ryan Bowman, is also optimistic.
“I think it’s great that she’s turned it into a ministry and that she’s getting back into pottery because she’s so skilled at it,” he said. “It’s like she never took off for several years and she seems even better than before. … It’s really special.”
Have a comment or story idea? Contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.
Edited by media-club co-adviser and blog editor Professor Michael Lear-Olimpi.