Just the Facts

Standard 266 Umbria with Grog and Standard 553 Warm Buff Stoneware 

Primary forming method 
wheel throwing, hand altering, some handbuilding 

Primary firing temperature 
glaze fire to cone 5, decal fire to cone 04, over glaze fire to cone 05, final color decal fire to cone 019 

Favorite surface treatment 
layering underglazes, glazes, overglazes, and decals 

Favorite tools 
a Kemper knife 

Studio Playlist 
a cycling grand tour (like the Tour de France), also audiobooks and podcasts 

more space, running water, a showroom 


My studio is in a detached garage in the backyard of my family’s home in Arlington, Virginia. My commute to work consists of walking about fifty steps past our garden where I grow flowers and vegetables. Arlington is a suburb of Washington, DC, so my home and studio are in a neighborhood that is walkable to the Metro, shops, and restaurants. 

When my husband, two small kids, and I moved here in 2008, we converted the garage into a studio, wiring it for an electric kiln, and installed a glass garage door. This door, the light it lets in, the perspective it allows of the garden where my kids would play when they were small and where my dogs run around now, and the ability to open it up fully to feel a beautiful day is my favorite aspect of my studio. 

My studio is not large, measuring just 250 square feet. I have a large center table and two smaller tables on either side of my wheel. My wheel is propped up on cinder blocks and brick so that I can stand as I throw. I have a ware cart for pot storage and drying, and another sturdy folding table that I use for storing pots in various stages of making and glazing. I store finished pots in boxes and on temporary shelves, which is probably the aspect of my studio that functions in the least practical way. If I could change anything about my studio, I would add a bit more space so that I could have a separate area to display work and pack boxes, but I don’t have plans to do that because it would require major construction, a lot of money, and likely special permits to build a second story onto the garage. There is also no running water in my studio so I either use the hose for water in the warmer months or carry out buckets of water filled inside the house. 

The size of the studio dictates that my process must move through stages; finishing and cleaning up from one stage before moving on to the next. Each cycle of my work takes about 2–5 weeks and involves multiple kiln firings. First, I do all the wet work, which is mostly wheel thrown with some altering and handbuilding. Then, I bisque fire, glaze fire (cone 5), apply decals (cone 04), mask, and apply an overglaze where I must heat each piece to apply three coats of the low-temperature glaze and fire again (cone 05), and then often a final low-temperature color decal (cone 019). If I am packing work and shipping it out, that is another step that takes the whole studio space. 

Paying Dues (and Bills) 

My high school art teacher first introduced me to clay, so when I went to Indiana University (IU) and there was a ceramics class offered, I signed up. That class led to another, which led to writing to Donna Polseno, who lived in Floyd near where I grew up in Virginia, to ask her if I could be her studio assistant while home for the summer. Meeting Donna and her husband, Rick Hensley, gave me faith in the idea of being a studio artist. I went back to Indiana after that summer and committed to getting a BFA in ceramics. 

After graduating from IU, I went back to Virginia and worked in the studio of Silvie Granatelli and served as her studio assistant when she taught a six-week concentration course at Penland School of Craft. The next year, I was a special student at the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, studying with Ken Ferguson. From there I went to The Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania, where I received my MFA. I spent the summer following graduate school working in a ceramics foundation, the Fundacio Josep Llorens Artigas in Spain, and then did a six-month residency at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center. I returned to Virginia in 1999, set up a studio, and taught adjunct at Virginia Tech for a few years. I have been working as a studio artist since 2000.

Being a studio ceramic artist is my only job, and I appreciate the flexibility of the schedule that has allowed me to be a mom and take on other volunteer and activist roles in my community. I work every day in the studio, spending on average six to eight hours working on whichever task of my process is at hand. Each day is different depending on which stage of the process I am working on. Some stages take more time than others, such as the masking and painting of the three coats of low-temperature glaze, which can take twelve- to fourteen-hour days. When I’m working on a tight deadline, like when I’m making cups for a collaboration with The Cycling Podcast (more on that below), my average day is closer to ten to fourteen hours. 


By far my most effective marketing strategy that is also unique to my work is a collaboration with The Cycling Podcast, a podcast that covers professional cycling. The collaboration began in 2019 after I contacted the podcast to see if they would help me award a cup to a young American rider that I had heard on the podcast. One of the hosts agreed to help so I sent him a cup, too. A few years later he contacted me to see if I would make limited edition cups for the podcast with the idea that they would also raise money for charities. The collaboration entails making limited-edition cups for each of the cycling grand tours: the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France, the Tour de France Femmes, and the Vuelta a Espana. Each batch is made up of approximately 60 mugs, 30 smaller European-sized coffee cups, 20 cappuccino and/or espresso cups and saucers, and sometimes gelato bowls. The podcast will announce ahead of time when the batches go on sale and batches have sold out in as few as two minutes. It is mind-blowing. 

Making these cups, which are responsible for the largest percentage of annual sales, has also been a dream come true. The cups have become more than just cups; they are awards for kindness, for sportsmanship, for humanity, and quite a few pro riders have been given cups—some of whom I have even had the opportunity to meet personally. It has built name recognition and valued friendships. The cups have come to symbolize a community and a reflection of generosity and that is deeply meaningful to me. 

I sell online through an Etsy shop, which has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that it has built an audience of return buyers and introduced cycling fans to the intrinsic value of a handmade cup. Etsy also creates shipping labels and collects payment and VAT from international purchasers (of which there are many). The main disadvantage is that Etsy charges high fees. 

I also have home studio sales where I clean up my studio and set it up as a showroom. I advertise these sales through a local email list and make postcards that I send out to a local mailing list. I sell through a few galleries and participate in the annual group show and sale Pottery on the Hill. 

Most Important Lesson 

The most important lessons I’ve learned working as an artist are to be curious, to be brave about trying something new, and that your best work is always still inside you. I remember being in graduate school and feeling stuck and a little lost and getting advice from Ken Ferguson suggesting that I would find my way by seeking inspiration from something I love. It was sound advice that I have since worked to follow. 

My best work is inspired by what I love: the rooflines, aerial images, and glimpses of humanity that take my breath away when watching bike races; the photographs of Bernd and Hilla Becher, which are straight-forward images of utilitarian structures; the color and composition of the landscape paintings by Egon Schiele and Richard Diebenkorn; the simple yet complex layering of Rosanjin’s work; and the way a weathering barn sits nestled in a mountain. 

Facebook: @SnyderCeramics 
Instagram: @Stacyasnyder 
Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/SnyderCeramics