This guy makes killer planters.
That was the first thing that went through my mind when I met Avery Menke a few years ago. A mutual friend introduced us and after a moment’s flash of visualizing my entire house covered in his planters & tiny bud vases, I asked him to join the crew of designers at Reservoir. Avery is that old soul American. The one that works with his hands, puts in long hours and loves his craft. I think if my Grandpa Don were still alive, he’d be as eager to hang around Avery’s studio, talking shop and/or about the next road trip in his future. There’s a real easy, rhythmic flow to his personality and I think that comes through in his ceramics too. His designs are striking, modern and yet humble in some beautiful way.
“I took some ceramic classes in college but did not think much of it at the time… HAHA! I take it one day at a time and try to do things that make me happy.” photo credit: Menke Ceramics
“I love Scandinavian design; there is such a nice balance of form and function.” I couldn’t agree more. Its quite possibly the number one reason I wanted to work with Avery on our Reservoir Home Collection. He had been listening to me ramble on about the perfect mug for almost 2 years now, simple in shape, but as cozy as it is functional in every way. So when I finally took the leap to ask for his expertise on the project, he knew exactly what I wanted.
Like a true engineer, he took my sketch & inspiration to bring the first sample to life. We tossed around levels of speckle in the clay and he glazed a handful so I could choose the exact shade of wintery white I was going for. After narrowing it down to the final look, he made several molds to use for pouring each piece. Avery isn’t throwing each mug on a wheel, but each piece is poured and glazed by hand.
What I love most about his process, is that it allows more control over creating a cohesive collection where large details essentially turn out the same, but glazing one by one, each of these pieces are still uniquely one-of-a-kind.
I’ve loved visiting his studio the last several months because, like me, he’s never working on just one thing. He’s full of new stories, more projects and lately a gutted Ford Transit that I’ve watch morph each time into a mobile studio space!
So when you’re not in the studio, Avery, tell us what you’re up to?
“Spending time with my best friend Ashley or near water…(and) OMG> Could talk all day about this! Moving! We just bought an amazing house/studio in the village of Lake Placid, NY.”
I was super excited, and honestly a little envious, to hear him & his partner Ashley were moving to the Adirondacks. The idea of spending your days waking up in the mountains and submerging yourself in your art & nature is possibly every craftsman’s fantasy. And no doubt would these two do it well. I told them I’d be visiting, of which I really didn’t wait for the invite! Ha. Of course, it gives me a great excuse to go hang around in the Adirondacks and see what incredible new project he’s working on! So then what’s next..after new van, new home, mountains and Lake Placid at your finger tips?!
“Besides building a new studio.. More focus collaborating with designers, artists, and architects.”
If this is any kind of a personal review, I’d highly recommend working with him! I feel fortunate to have found such a talent & friend in the process.
“Totally obsessed with house plants. I am currently thinning the heard but have over 200. Since I was a little kid, I have always wanted to live in a green house.” photo credit: Menke Ceramics
Ok Avery, we need to know. If there was one thing you couldn’t live without?
“Water for sure… preferably mixed with grains, hops and yeast :)”
I’ll cheers to that! But I felt the real question and what all of us equally curious craftsmen are always asking of our fellow friends…give us some advice. If you could wrap up this interview with any words to live by, what would they be?
“Keep doing what you love, the $$$ will come.” …I’ll cheers to that too!
A massive thank you to Avery for taking the time to answer a few questions with me and more importantly, helping me along this journey of creating my first home goods collection!
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