Studio Tour Contest Winners!

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The votes are in and I’m pleased to announce that Jeri Lake and Kate Nicol-Smith are the winners in our Studio Tour Video Contest!  In today’s post, Jeri and Kate tell us a bit more about themselves and explain what this wheel will mean to them. Congratulations Jeri and Kate and thank you for sharing your story with us. We’d also like to thank everyone who entered, commented and voted.

One thing that we gleaned through your comments is that you would like to see the honorable mentions from this contest. Well, we are happy to oblige. We have decided to work a regular studio tour video feature into our rotation. So look for that in the coming weeks.

Also, since this contest was so successful, we are going to plan our next contest very soon – and we’d love suggestions for the topic. What types of videos would you like to see? Please let us know in the comments on this post, or drop us an email at with your ideas. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


From Jeri:
I am still shaking. When I opened my email last week and saw “The Cracked Potters” in the subject line and couldn’t believe it!

The reason you didn’t see Kate (Kathy) in the video was because I [entered the contest] as a surprise for her. I entered to try to get her the wheel. She has never had one of her own and I know she would throw more if she did. She worries about taking up time on mine – silly girl!

But the real prize, as it turns out, has been the comments of this community. We have the gift of knowing we are supported and that our story has made a difference for some of you. To all the others who have spoken of brain injury, we know the path you are on and if there is anything we can do to help smooth it out for you let us know. To all who mentioned other struggles, just keep the clay in your hands and as one person said let it “center” you. I know it centered me LONG before I could get it centered!! And to all who work with folks with challenges, thank you for that. You are so needed. And especially to the woman whose husband came back from Iraq with TBI. Your love is his most important resource and I know it is not easy for you either. Personality is altered, behavior changes, relationships are tough. Take care of yourself too and help him find that new path. Our caretakers are our heroes even though sometimes we don’t do a great job of letting them know. (Thanks, Steve!!)

Kate hit another big bump in her journey this week, so I told her about the contest because I wanted her to hear your words when she needed them. She told me you all were better than a wheel! To the other entries and finalists, thanks for sharing your stories. This site has been a great teacher for us. I too wanted to go join the others and work in their great places with their expert guidance! Beautiful. I know my video quality wasn’t great. I am not very fluent and I get nervous. My camera guy graciously said it was OK and didn’t make me do it over. He did the best he could with what he had. Thanks Bryan S. You know I love you! Kate and I believe that creativity heals because we are all part of a great creation and the creative spirit within each of us is no accident. We all have different paths but in many ways it is one journey. Thanks again for your kindness when we met you on this road! Peace – Jeri.

From Kate:
Again, thank you for all of your wonderful words of encouragement. That truly was as special as winning the wheel! Upon my journey I have thought of my life as that lump of clay, with no form, just there standing alone on that wheel. And Jeri has been one of those loving hands of friendship that has helped shape it into a beautiful vessel. Peace to all, and keep on throwing! We also both want to thank Skutt for donating the great wheel for this contest. We’ll put it to good use!!

  • God Bless you both! Keep up the good work! I hope we can see some of your work soon! I am so happy that you won! You have given me insight and a lot to think about! Again, God Bless You!

  • Congratulations! I hope we get to see a follow-up sometime in the future. But even if not, your entry was an inspiration to many. I use clay as a healing tool with children after finding out its healing qualities for myself. In fact, I went back to school to be a “clay therapist” and am now doing that parttime and hopefully soon full time. It’s so affirming for me to see what clay is doing for you and others.

  • Kate and Jeri;Congratulations!!!! Keep up the good work. As a retired psychologist who spent a number of years working in the clinical area of brain dysfunction,PTSD, and the development of therapeutic procedures to assist people who had the difficulties associated with those disorders I understand your challenges and commend you. Good Luck..Al Scott Breakaway Pottery.

  • Wonderful! All three of the studio tours were great, but I am so glad you won!
    Keep on throwin’

  • Al,
    Thanks for sharing your studio and your former work! Would love to talk with you more about both!! Breakaway is a BEAUTIFUL place and with all those students, seems to me you are still doing great therapy! Jeri (and Kate)

  • I am so happy that Kate and Jeri won this contest. After all, the contest was just about interesting studios, but with them it became so much more. It became about inspiration too, resulted in serving a bigger purpose, and ended up giving a wheel to someone who didnt even have one. What a nice thing to do both for Jeri and Skutt. Congratulations to them, and kudos to you for having the contest in the first place.

  • Congratulations! I used the wheel to center me after hurrican Katrinia changed my life. But my struggle was very small compare to the mountain you have climbed. Keep getting your hands muddy. Claire

  • Congratulations to both of you! I loved having the opportunity to “tour” all the studio entries, and it’s always a treat to see other potters’ works. Jeri, I especially enjoyed seeing how you have incorporated your father’s camp kitchens into your workspace.

  • Congratulations! i too enjoyed all the studio tours but you ladies are the clear choice to win the wheel – what an inspiration you will be to me in my lowly struggles.

  • CONGRATS!! I am so glad that you won! What an inspiration you both are to all of us. Clay has been very healing and inspiring for me too. There is something about working with God’s earth!

  • Your story is inspiring. I am majoring in Ceramics with a minor in Holistic Health so I can help introduce clay as a healing medium. It has been very healing for me. Best of luck in your journey! So glad you both have won! I voted for you =)

  • Congrats! It was inspiring to hear your story. Although I don’t have the challenges that you two are facing so couragously I do know that when I am upset or worried I reach for the clay. It never fails to calm me. Pinching a pot is my own meditation. I think it is so great that you have found it’s healing qualities too………..keep potting!!

  • Very well done and well deserved! I come from the UK and feel very much part of the community. Jen and Kate are inspirational in that they have made a wonderful creative environment through being resourceful and enthusiastic, not letting anything get in the way of their love for creating with clay. My love for clay is recently acquired since my diagnosis with MS. There are some days I would have gladly stayed in bed due to pain and fatigue. Now I go to sleep and get up thinking about ceramics. My daughter thinks I’m sad but I am truly happy; I have found an all-consuming passion for exploring this wonderful world of trial and error and limitless invention. It has lifted me above the daily battles; my mum is 89 and disabled living with me plus my autistic 19-year old not to mention an energetic 16 year old and a searching for work graduate.
    My journey with clay has helped me to make friends, lose myself for hours on end and forced me to think creatively on many different levels.
    Good luck to you all!

  • Congratulations, ladies! My Mom lived with me after two strokes and I watched her recover. Recently I’ve had a friend younger than I am have a stroke and another friend with damage from undiagnosed meningitis. Damage from differing causes, but similiar results. Your stories were inspirational to them. Thanks for sharing your journeys, and I hope you have many more years of advancements.

  • Congratulations to both of you! I’m a veteran and throw in the OT clinic at my local VA. “Playing with mud” has definitely helped center me. I’m so glad you both have wheels now, and hope your story inspires many more therapeutic pottery programs.

  • From New Zealand… your studio story was an inspiration…Life is altered sometimes and clay brings it all together. No judgment or critical eye… I fond the video quality was great, your camera man did an awesome job and so did you! How proud you must be, as this is another milestone for you! Keep inspired to play with clay.

  • Congrats to you!! I’m so happy you won the wheel!! Your story shows us all that by having a passion, we can have hope and make it through our challenges, whether they be physical, mental or like mine depression. After 10 years of severe depression I am myself again and alot of that has to do with my passion for clay – it has finally centered me. I love teaching clay – although I’m a self taught potter (working with clay for 30 years), I teach several classes a week to kids and adults. YOUR STORY HAS INSPIRED ME TO ACTION – to look for a physical therapist, doctor or what ever to partner with to teach clay as therapy for individuals with disabilities – and I’d like to focus on individuals such as yourselves – fighting back from brain injury.
    Please share your work with us and I’ll be sharing your story.
    God bless. Terri 🙂

  • What deserving winners! I am an art therapist and the director of a trauma clinic in West Virginia for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Working with clay (hand-building) is part of our program. I explain to our clients that the process of having both hands work together helps the brain integrate the verbal and the nonverbal functions that were separated during the trauma.

    The story also reminds me about MC Richards’s book on centering that addresses the psychological aspects of wheel work.

  • KATE AND JERI, Congratulations to the both of you. You are certainly the best of friends and obviously there for each other. What could be better than that. While you may both still have many hurdles to overcome I think you have transitioned from needing to be healed to being able to help with the healing of others simply by the example you have set. Thankyou for the privelege of getting to know you both. Have fun molding your clay and your lifes. Wishing you God’s blessings.

  • JERI and KATE: Congratulations to both of you. I can’t help but think your story must be so inspiring for others. I also love the idea of how you upfitted your studio with found items, reinvented them to work in your studio setting and what memories they must hold for you. Both of you are beautiful, strong and courageous women!!! Thank you for sharing your story with us!!! Ciao Bella’s!!!!

  • Jeri and Kate: Further to your return comments to me. Anytime. All the best Al

  • yay! I am so glad Cracked Pots won. What a challenge you have been thru! Nice studio, very neat and clever use of space. I love the campers kitchen cupboards, nice storage with ez access. Keep pressing on. I am impressed.

  • I was delighted to see who won!!! Exactly who I voted for.
    I was touched most by the heartfelt words about life and what these two ladies received from working with clay. Each and every one of us should look at our work spaces in the same way…a sacred space.
    Congratulations ….and keep on potting!!!!
    Sue B.

  • I was thrilled to see that Cracked Pots wone. All three studios were great but it was a joy to hear about just how much clay has touched your lives. Congrats and keep your heand in the mud.

  • My husband and I are both thrilled that you won – we both intended to vote for you (not just because you are an inspiration to others with your personal studies, but also because your video met the brief for entry) but unfortunately we lost broadband connection and didn’t get it back until it was too late to vote. I hope you are feeling upbeat again Kate – sounds like you’ve got a really good friend in Jeri. Good luck to you both. Ann UK

  • Awesome! You guys are such an inspiration! Enjoy your well-deserved prize. Jeri, I thought you very fluent and articulate. I loved the video, and I loved how you use the camp kitchens from your childhood. It makes your studio that much more special.
    The other videos were wonderful and inspiring as well. Thanks to all who shared. I look forward to seeing some of the others who entered.

  • Oops! I meant “I thought you WERE very fluent and articulate.” (Even though I’m obviously not. lol)

  • Hooray for the Cracked Potters! You rock and are a great inspiration to all of us. I am sure that wheel will be in loving hands. Thanks for making your video and sharing your story.

  • So glad you girls won! I alway knew from the first time I felt clay in my fands there was something MAGICAL about it. You two are living proof of that. Enjoy the wheel Cracked Potters. Ed / Bloomington IL.

  • hi jeri and kate,
    you are an inspiration! aren’t we lucky to have found clay? i think it is great healer of both big and small wounds. i know that i forget everything else when i’m in my studio. enjoy your prize, you certainly deserve it!!

  • So glad you won! I hope to see some of your work and hear more from you both. I have friends with brain injuries and know how hard it is for them overcoming their problems,glad you are both doing this for yourselves. I too have truned to clay for my life line. I am in no way compaire to the two of you but I have my own challenges with pain. God Bless you both. You are truly Blessed and have blessed others with your stories. Thanks to you both and congratulations!!!!!

  • This contest was really terrific. I have recently rediscovered clay after a 25 year hiatus, and seeing the entries (plus the many other video clips here – trust me I’ve viewed all of them) has really been a helpful impetus and guide to me. I wish I’d had such a resource when I was younger! Congratulations to the winners, to the finalists, and I look forward to seeing many more.

  • I am pleased that you won. Your courage inspires me to keep working to get a work space for myself. I do so enjoy when I get the chance to play in the clay, but having a dedicated space of my own will have to wait for now. May God bless you abundently and be with you through your recoveries.

  • I enjoyed all 3 videos…..Congratulations Jeri and Kate….

    Congrats Ceramics Arts Daily – a wonderful idea to have a Studio Tour.

  • Congratulations for your Job, it is very good for us potter! Thank you.

  • congratulations to both of you , you bot r so inspiring i understand i have been through a brain surgery and have recently taken up pottery . it has helped me immensely

  • Thanks Jeri and Kate for sharing your inspiring story. Clay helped me
    heal after I lost my daughter and is helping me heal again from some
    health issues. I hope the best for both of you.

  • I am so glad you won, Kate and Jeri! What a beautiful surprise for Kate!

    As a teacher, I have seen many lives transformed through that humblest and most magical of all materials – clay! I am so glad you two can experience it together.

    I had imagined both of you trying to share one wheel, and thought you two deserved two…

    Best of luck in your continued healing and growth through clay.


  • Good job! I’m so happy you won. Those who are “different” are so easily overlooked and pushed aside and you didn’t let that happen. Keep having fun..

  • I loved (and voted for) your video and am happy you won. I have Parkinson’s Disease and I also find throwing pots very therapeutic. Your story is truly inspiring to me.

  • Congratulations. God works in mysterious ways! I’ve been throwing for almost 2 years. My mother has alzheimers and I am one of the primary caregivers. It’s great to be able to get with friends once or twice a week or go to my basement to my little wheel and lose myself. Thank you for your inspiration.

  • Congratulations: I am beter at expressing myself on the wheel than in words. But You got my vote & keep on (playing) in clay.

  • From Brazil…congratulations, Jeri and Kate. You are real winners!

  • Just want to say ditto on the comments above — yes all of them. I had a wonderful time watching all the videos and yours touched my heart where all my creativity comes from.
    Clay On

  • Rock on sisters! I am so glad the Cracked Potters won the contest. I enjoyed your video and found it very inspirational. Now, enjoy that wheel and let your creativity run free.

  • Congratulations to you both — and to the behind-the-scenes camera guy! Pottery is new hobby of mine — but you have already altered they way I view that lump of clay. Continue to inspire eachother and others, and continue to create beautiful objects.

  • Dear Jeri and Kate, i voted for you and am so glad you won. Clay does change us, helping us express the best of what we have inside—our pure creativity. linda in Minnesota

  • Thank you Jeri and Kate for your inspirational words – may they transform our lives and our pots.

  • A big congratulations from Australia. The world is with you girls………keep going.

  • You ladies are awesome! You have given me hope for my daughter who also had a traumatic brain injury when she was 4 (she’s now 22)! I will get her into my studio yet!! Thanks for sharing your beautiful story and your wonderful pottery!! ~Karen

  • Congradulations! i would love to see some work from your new wheel and read more about your journey in clay!!! How fun to have a blog???Becky

  • BRAVO! to you both (and to Ceramic Arts Daily & Scutt for the contest & wheel).
    I’d love to see & read more about your works too.

  • Congratulations and thanks for the inspirational video. It was extremely well done! I find pottery great therapy for depression, but your story and your accomplishments and bravery in forging a new life is even better. Thank you for sharing it and enjoy the wheel. You really deserve it.

  • Congrats to all three of the finalists. I got valuable info and inspiration from all of you. Jeri and Kate – I voted for you because your story has given me so much inspiration. Many of us who work with clay have been given the gift of comfort and courage – it is a medium that gives back everything you give to it and more. good luck on your journey.

  • Super that you won! After everything that you both have been through and that you both had the strength to change course and do something else with your lives and to do it so well, and not to feel sorry for yourselves. Kol akovd!!!!!!!!! That is all honor in english.

    Eilat, from Israel

  • I am way behind on reading about the contest and you girls winning. I am so happy for you. I felt your earnest emotion as you were doing your video, and I appreciate it so much. It is a gift from God that you and Kate found a mutual artistic avenue for the expression of your hearts.

    I am 70 yo and I am just starting to really enjoy making ceramics in the last 5 yrs. I live alone with my dog, Sweet Pea, and she just waits/sleeps nearby while I am so involved in my current project. My work table is in my living room at the moment.

    May the Lord bless both Jeri and Kate!
    Ruth from southwest Nebraska

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